Ralph Thomas insisted on the film being shot in black and white as he felt the book "was written in black and white, and it's got to be made in black and white." He was influenced by a French film Casque d'Or set in a similar period which was in black and white.
Thomas later said this was a mistake and the commercial after life of the film would have been stronger if it had been in colour. He said the film "was very self indulgent because I wouldn't listen to advice. It's dangerous to have fashion and power and I was fashionable then."
The film was the most expensive British production of its year.
The film was shot in the Loire Valley in France, because it was the only place without telegraph poles. Several thousand American soldiers posted nearby in Orléans were used as extras. Shooting took six weeks. "The only way we were able to finish a film this ambitious on such a modest budget was by using a regular crew, so there were no fights, we just tackled it and went on until the finish," said Thomas.