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The working title of this film was Sing, Governor, Sing. The film was originally planned as a production of 20th Century Pictures before its merger with Fox. According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, the story was originally written with Bing Crosby in mind for the lead. Later, according to Daily Variety, Lawrence Tibbett was set to make his screen comeback with this film, but in March 1935, Zanuck announced that a "more romantic and meatier story" was being developed along lighter lines for other players as a musical comedy. Tibbett was subsequently cast in Metropolitan. While Nunnally Johnson is given sole writing credit on the screen, according to Variety, the press sheet credits Melville Crossman, a pseudonym for Zanuck, with the story. Gus Kahn and Arthur Johnston were borrowed from M-G-M to write the music; the title of the film was changed after they wrote the song, "Thanks a Million." According to Variety, the press sheet indicated that Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby contributed songs. No songs by Kalmar and Ruby are present in the final film, although the lyrics to one song, "What a Beautiful Night," were sent to the PCA for approval. Peverell Marley was loaned by Edward Small. According to Hollywood Reporter, the cast of the film was paid $300,000. Radio star Fred Allen, who made his screen debut in the film, reportedly received $50,000. Variety noted that the film "unquestionably establishes Fred Allen for the screen." Harry Tugend, who contributed to the writing of special sequences, was a writer for Allen's "Town Hall" broadcasts. This was the first feature film of the Yacht Club Boys, which consisted of Charles Adler, James V. Kern, Billy Mann and George Kelly. This was the first Twentieth Century-Fox production to be shot at the Movietone studios. The scenes of Paul Whiteman and his band were shot in New York by director Otto Brower and a technical crew that he brought from the Movietone studios. Hollywood Reporter noted that Whiteman was "almost unrecognizable with a svelte new figure." According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, Roy Del Ruth and assistant director Ben Silvey went to San Francisco before filming began to look for locations. No information has been located to determine whether any filming took place there. This was Margaret Irving's first film. In 1937, Lt. Gov. Victor Aloysius Meyers of Washington State, a former bandleader, sued Twentieth Century-Fox for $250,000 in damages because of a line in the film spoken by Fred Allen, which Meyers claimed reflected on his qualifications and deprived him of the "confidence, respect and good will of the people." The line in question came when "Ned" is trying to convince "Eric" to run for governor. He says, "Up in Washington, they elected a jazz band leader Lieutenant Governor, and if the people will vote for a jazz band leader, they'll vote for anybody." No information has been located concerning the disposition of the suit. The film received an Academy Award nomination in the sound recording category.
In 1946, Twentieth Century-Fox produced a film with a similar plot, entitled If I'm Lucky, but which gave no credit to this film. It was directed by Lewis Seiler and starred Vivian Blaine and Perry Como.