Britten was asked to compose the music to this film by Boyd Neel, who was the musical director for the production: the contract was signed on 19 September. Because of a series of delays it was not until November that Britten was able to compose the music, working at great speed with Grace Williams acting as an amanuensis. The recording sessions were on 25 and 27 November.
The film - the only feature-length film for which Britten composed the music - was based on a stage play by Frank Vosper modelled on a short story, Philomel cottage by Agatha Christie, and starred Ann Harding and Basil Rathbone. Made by Trafalgar Films, it was produced by Max Schach and directed by Rowland V. Lee. Its gala premiere was given on 7 January 1937.
The original film music survives only as very rough sketches. Colin Matthews prepared the published score by transcribing the sound track, using the sketches as a guide.