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The film, which contains flashback scenes with voice-over narration, is based on the 1913 novel Trent's Last Case by London journalist Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956). According to a December 1963 New York Times article, the book introduced a naturalism and understated humor to the genre that eventually changed the course of the popular literary form and made Bentley, to some, "the father of the contemporary detective novel." Bentley, who also originated a light-verse form called the "clerihew," later wrote other novels and short stories in which "Philip Trent" was the protagonist.
The film version released by Republic was one of four films the studio co-produced with Herbert Wilcox and Anna Neagle. Produced entirely in England, the film was distributed there by British Lion and premiered in London on either 29 or October 31, 1952, a year before it was seen in the United State. Sequences set at London's Royal Opera House at Covent Garden feature an excerpted performance by pianist Eileen Joyce with the London Symphony Orchestra. Joyce's onscreen title card reads: "Piano Concert in C Minor by Mozart played by Eileen Joyce." The film's writer, Pamela Bower, and production manager, J. D. Wilcox, are the daughter and son of Wilcox.
In a flashback scene, Orson Welles, as "Sigsbee Manderson," makes an inside joke when he mentions that he did not care for the leading actor in Othello at the St. James Theater. In October 1951, shortly before the filming of Trent's Last Case, Welles directed and starred in a production of Othello, which received mixed reviews by the press. According to a modern source, Welles is said to have quipped, "I have just come from the St. James Theater, where I have been murdering Desdemona-or Shakespeare, according to which newspaper you read!"
Other films based on Bentley's book include a 1920 British film and the 1929 Fox Film Corp. silent picture directed by Howard Hawks and starring Donald Crisp and Raymond Griffith, both bearing the same title (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30).