The film is based on the story Stazione Termini by Cesare Zavattini. Truman Capote was credited with writing the entire screenplay, but later claimed to have written only two scenes. The film was an international co-production between De Sica's own company and the Hollywood producer David O. Selznick, who commissioned it as a vehicle for his wife, Jennifer Jones. The production of the film was troubled from the very beginning. Carson McCullers was originally chosen to write the screenplay, but Selznick fired her and replaced her with a series of writers, including Paul Gallico, Alberto Moravia and Capote. Disagreements ensued between De Sica and Selznick, and during production, Selznick would write 40- and 50-page letters to his director every day, although De Sica spoke no English. After agreeing to everything, De Sica has said, he simply did things his way.
Montgomery Clift sided with De Sica in his disputes with Selznick, claiming that Selznick wanted the movie to look like a slick little love story, while De Sica wanted to depict a ruined romance. "Love relationship are ludicrous, painful, and gigantically disappointing. This couple loves each other but they become unconnected."
During the filming, Jones was distracted and saddened by the recent death of her former husband, actor Robert Walker, and badly missed her two sons, who were at school in Switzerland. She had been married to Selznick less than two years at that point, and they were having difficulties in the marriage.
The original release of the film ran 89 minutes, but it was later re-edited by Selznick down to 64 minutes and re-released as Indiscretion of an American Wife (and as Indiscretion in the UK). Clift declared that he hated the picture and denounced it as "a big fat failure." Critics of the day agreed, giving it universally bad reviews. The two versions have been released together on DVD by The Criterion Collection. A 1998 remake of the film was made for television under the title Indiscretion of an American Wife.