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The onscreen credits misspell the name of actor Fritz Leiber as "Fritz Lieber." The working title of this film was Ellis Island. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item from December 1937, Twentieth Century-Fox purchased an original story entitled "Ellis Island" from "Prince" Michael Romanoff, known as an impostor who posed as a member of the Romanoff dynasty. In the late 1930s, he opened Romanoff's restaurant in Beverly Hills and became wealthy with a chain of restaurants. The story, according to the news item, was to star Annabella, Raymond Griffith was to produce, and Don Ettlinger and Karl Tunberg were assigned to write the screenplay. According to the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, Edith Skouras and Kathryn Scola, rather than Ettlinger and Tunberg, prepared a story outline, dated January 17, 1938. A February 9, 1938 Hollywood Reporter news item states that the studio purchased an original story by Walter Reisch, also entitled "Ellis Island." That story, dated January 29, 1938, is in the Produced Scripts Collection. All subsequent work in the Produced Scripts Collection is by Lamar Trotti. It is not known if the story by Reisch, who received screen credit, was based on the story by Romanoff, or if any material contributed by Romanoff, Ettlinger, Tunberg, Skouras or Scola was included in the final film. Hollywood Reporter production charts include Romanoff in the cast, but according to New York Times, "Prince Mike, an old friend of the Bureau of Immigration, was going to play himself-that is, a bogus Russian nobleman. But Gregory Ratoff had to be substituted at the last minute because, it seems, Prince Mike wasn't bogus enough!"
According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, Twentieth Century-Fox offered Maurice Conn, who produced a film entitled Ellis Island in 1936 for Invincible, $7,500 for a release to the title, but Conn turned them down. Twentieth Century-Fox then offered $100 to anyone working at the studio who could come up with a suitable new title. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, after critics acclaimed Arleen Whelan for her performance in Kidnapped (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40;F3. 2279), her part was enlarged for this film. Gladys George, J. Edward Bromberg, George Barbier and Sidney Blackmer are listed as cast members in Hollywood Reporter production charts, but their participation in the final film is doubtful. According to modern sources, Ratoff directed the second unit, Leyland Hodgson played the ship's headwaiter, and James and Robert Haxton, Jr., seven-month-old twins, played the Hlawek baby. Film Daily called the film a "Grand Hotel idea based on Ellis Island."