"Pepe" premiered in Hollywood on December 27, 1960. The Columbia Pictures feature, starring the Mexican film star Mario Moreno, "Cantinflas," in the title role, was directed by George Sidney. A multitude of cameo appearances attempted to replicate the success of Mario Moreno's American debut, notably, "Around The World in Eighty Days," produced in 1956 by Mike Todd. The Hollywood Hill top swimming pool sequence was filmed on property owned by Brian Aherne and Joan Fontaine. The Eastern property point overlooking Hollywood, downtown Los Angeles, and the panorama to the West, was located at the end of North Crescent Heights Boulevard, adjacent Hollywood Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard and Laurel Canyon. Columbia Studios' "Pepe" art director Ted Hayworth selected the location for the swimming pool scene-encounter. The studio built a full size swimming pool, on the bluff overlooking Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard. The entire set was fabricated on the bluff for this scene, with the four columned two story (Aherne-Fontaine) mansion as the backdrop for reverse camera angle shots. Upon completion of filming, everything built for the setting was removed, with the property restored back to the original condition. During the mid 60's, after Aherne and Fontaine's divorce in 1959, the mansion hill-top was sold, abandoned, becoming a Sunset Strip hippie enclave fort; the mansion was demolished in the late 60's; Great Western, sub-dividing the hill-top, developed home sights selling for approximately $350,000 to $500,000 in the late 1970's.
The film's length gave Columbia inordinate problems, especially as it was a major box-office flop. Its first screening was at a length of 195 minutes, but by the time of its European openings in the Spring of 1961, it had been shortened to 170 minutes, with many star cameos noticeably trimmed. Later showings, especially on television, have been trimmed further.
Jack Lemmon's cameo appearance in his Some Like It Hot (1960) drag is the only footage known to exist that captures Orry-Kelly's Academy Award-winning costumes and Lemmon's makeup in Technicolor. Billy Wilder filmed Some Like It Hot in black-and-white because he felt that the makeup was less believable in color.
The complete three-hour print was released for television broadcast in the 1970s, most notably on Channel 29 (WTAF) in Philadelphia, which ran the film in a 3 hour and 30 minute time slot, and Channel 7 (WABC) in New York, which ran it in five successive one hour installments on its 10:00am Movie in the Morning time slot.
One of the concrete giveaways between the full-length print and the edited print is the length of the "Faraway Part of Town" dance sequence. Judy Garland's complete prerecording can be heard on the film's soundtrack album, and the song appeared in this form in the full-length print.
The scene with the armored card racing across the tarmac with a police escort delivering the $250,000 silver dollars in coin to the airplane was an armored car from Nevada Armored Transport, the first and only local armored car service in Las Vegas for nearly 30 years. In the scene it is disguised as belonging to the Sands Hotel & Casino. Opening in 1946 on Fremont Street, the company was around until 1984 when it was finally absorbed into Loomis armored car service through their acquisition of Purolator Armored which had purchased and operated in tandem with Nevada Armored Transport from 1976.