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The working titles for this film were The Painted Veil, The Seventh Vow and The Seventh Veil. As early as July 1, 1947, an Hollywood Reporter news item noted that M-G-M intended to remake its 1934 film The Painted Veiland chose Greer Garson to star. On February 9, 1956, an ^HR news item noted that Eleanor Parker was to star in the film with Alec Guinness, who was possibly considered for the role taken over by Bill Travers. According to December 1956 Hollywood Reporter production charts and a December 25, 1956 Hollywood Reporter article, Sidney Franklin took over as producer for the film during the final months of shooting, replacing David Lewis. Hollywood Reporter production charts for the film indicate that Vincente Minnelli took over direction of the film in January 1957, although only Ronald Neame is credited with direction onscreen and in reviews. In his autobiography, Minnelli stated that he finished the film when, after conflicts with Lewis, Neame left mid-production. Minnelli claims to have kept Neame's original intent for the plot and requested the studio only credit Neame with directing the film. As noted in production charts, portions of the film were shot on location in Hong Kong.
The deathbed quotation spoken by Bill Travers as the character "Walter Carwin" was taken from the poem "Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog" by eighteenth century author Oliver Goldsmith. As mentioned above, W. Somerset Maugham's book The Painted Veil was first made into a movie with the same title by M-G-M in 1934. Greta Garbo and George Brent starred in that version, which was directed by Richard Boleslawski (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40). The 1934 film was set in the 1930s, while the 1957 release was updated to 1949. As of 2005, another film with the working title The Painted Veil, which is also to be based on the Maugham novel, was in pre-production, to be directed by John Curan and star Edward Norton.