The film was made for Chicago television and was highly praised and crucial to the career of its director William Friedkin, helping him get an agent and jobs making documentaries for David Wolper, and then an episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. The film won the Golden Gate Award Winner for Film as Communication at the 1962 San Francisco International Film Festival.
Friedkin says when he made the film he was convinced Crump was innocent but now feels he was guilty.
A digitally restored version of the film was released by Facets in May 2014.
William friedkin introduces the people vs paul crump