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The working title of this film was With Flying Colors. All of the actresses who played nurses in Up in Arms are listed collectively onscreen as "The Goldwyn Girls." Danny Kaye's character was based on the character "The Nervous Wreck" from the play of the same name by Owen Davis, which opened in New York in 1923. The play, which bears little resemblance to the film, was in turn based on the 1921 magazine serial The Wreck by Edith J. Rath and Sam H. Harris, which was published as a novel called The Nervous Wreck in 1923. In 1928, Florenz Ziegfeld staged a musical version of Davis' play called Whoopee starring Eddie Cantor.
Although a December 1942 Los Angeles Examiner article states that Samuel Goldwyn hired well-known shorts producer Pete Smith to narrate the film, and a December 1943 Hollywood Reporter news item confirms that Smith completed the commentary, Knox Manning is credited onscreen as the narrator. Modern sources note that Virginia Mayo, who played a nurse in the film, was considered for the part of "Virginia," but eventually lost the role to popular singer Dinah Shore. Mayo went on, however, to star in Goldwyn's 1944 The Princess and the Pirate, opposite Bob Hope, and other Goldwyn pictures. Although the early Hollywood Reporter production charts list John F. Link as the film's editor, the onscreen credits name Daniel Mandell and James Newcom. Although Hollywood Reporter news items add Lenore Aubert, Hal K. Dawson, and dancers John Coffey, Walton Walker and John Roche to the cast, their appearance in the film has not been confirmed. According to an April 1944 Hollywood Reporter article, during production, associate producer Don Hartman sued Goldwyn for allegedly ridiculing him publicly, and then refusing to release him from his contract.
Up in Arms marked the motion picture debut of Broadway star Danny Kaye (1913-1987), and opened to uniformly rave reviews. In February 1944, the New York Times reported that the usual recording procedure, in which the entertainer sang his or her song in the studio and then lip-synched on camera, was made far more complicated in this film due to Kaye's complex scatting. The song "Melody in 4F," which was co-written by Kaye's wife, Sylvia Fine, was taken from Kaye's Broadway hit, Let's Face It, and was characteristic of the tongue-twisting numbers that he performed throughout his career. The popular star, who began on Broadway in 1939, had already turned down a contract with M-G-M, when Goldwyn cast him in Up in Arms. After this film made Kaye an international success, he went on to do three more with Goldwyn before moving on to Warner Bros. In his later career, he enjoyed continued success on television, notably with The Danny Kaye Show from 1963-1967. Kaye was also lauded for his charity work, particularly with UNICEF. The film also marked the American film debut of Mexican-born actress Linda Christian.
The picture's February 1944 premiere at Radio City Music Hall benefitted Ann Lehr's Hollywood Guild Canteen, a fund for soliders. The film received Academy Award nominations in the Music (Scoring of a Musical Picture) and Music (Song-"Now I Know") categories. Among the many other screen and television versions of Davis's story are a 1926 Christie Film Company picture called The Nervous Wreck, directed by Scott Sidney and starring Harrison Ford (see AFI Catalog of Feature Film, 1921-30; F2.3799); a 1930 United Artists film Whoopee!, which was based on the musical of the same name, directed by Thornton Freeland and starring Eddie Cantor (see AFI Catalog of Feature Film, 1921-30; F2.6328); and several television productions, including a Musical Comedy Time program broadcast in October 1950, starring Johnny Morgan and Nancy Walker, and an October 1952 Broadway Television adaptation of the play, which featured Buddy Ebsen.
Hollywood Reporter articles state that Col. Hamilton Templeton, Gunner's Mate 1/c Marvin C. Beck, Navy Capt. Walter Voegler, and the Maritime Commission's D. Harms were hired to act as technical advisors for the film's military sequences. Although a September 1943 Hollywood Reporter news item announces that Disney would prepare an animated sequence for the film's climax, there is no such sequence in the final film.