The film was shot in just under two weeks, and was planned as an exercise in film-making for Fassbinder, to fill in the time in his schedule between the work on two other films, Martha and Effi Briest.
Ali is played by El Hedi ben Salem, who was Fassbinder's partner at the time. Barbara is played by Austrian actress Barbara Valentin, who was in the 1980s a partner of Freddie Mercury, lead singer of the band Queen. Fassbinder himself has a cameo appearance as Emmi's son in law. Emmi, played by Brigitte Mira, shares some life experience with the actress's own life, Mira's father having been a Russian Jewish immigrant, whose heritage the actress had hidden in order to survive Nazism and in fact had collaborated by acting in Nazi propaganda films for a time. Emmi's daughter, Kristin, played by Irm Hermann), had herself a turbulent relationship with Fassbinder in real life, having been quoted as saying of Fassbinder, "He couldn't conceive of my refusing him, and he tried everything. He almost beat me to death on the streets of Bochum ....". And Fassbinder himself grew up under some of the domestic effects of immigrant prejudice, given that his mother immigrated back to Germany from Poland after the Soviet Occupation and Fassbinder grew up in a turbulent and eventually divorcing household where immigrating relatives stayed with them. Thus the production set was rife with the themes of the film having played out in the personal histories of the actors and director.