Working titles for Trouble in Paradise included "The Honest Finder," "Thieves and Lovers," and "The Golden Widow"; the latter was publicly announced to be the intended release title. As with all the Lubitsch-Raphaelson collaborations, Lubitsch contributed to the writing and Raphaelson contributed ideas to the directing. Lubitsch did not receive screen credit for his writing, and Grover Jones, who was credited with the adaptation, did not contribute significantly: although he was in the room, his credit was based on a contractual obligation, and he did little more than tell stories. Further, although supposedly based on László Aladár's 1931 play The Honest Finder, Lubitsch suggested that Raphaelson not read the play, and instead the main character, Herbert Marshall's master thief, was based on the exploits of a real person, George Manolescu, a Romanian con man whose memoir was published in 1905, and became the basis for two silent films.
Made before effective enforcement of the Production Code, the film is an example of pre-code cinema containing adult themes and sexual innuendo that was not permitted under the Code. In 1935, when the Production Code was being enforced, the film was not approved for reissue and was not seen again until 1968. Paramount was again rejected in 1943, when the studio wanted to make a musical version of the film.
The Art Deco sets for Trouble in Paradise were designed by the head of Paramount's art department, Hans Dreier, and the gowns were designed by Travis Banton.