Tune of the Day: Blue Moon
Richard Rodgers and lyricist Lorenz Hart were contracted to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in May 1933. They were soon commissioned to write the songs for Hollywood Party, a film that was to star many of the studio's top artists. One of the ideas was to include a scene in which Jean Harlow is shown as an innocent young girl saying — or rather singing — her prayers. The song was not even recorded and MGM Song #225 “Prayer (Oh Lord, make me a movie star)” was registered for copyright as an unpublished work.
Lorenz Hart wrote new lyrics for the tune to create a title song for the 1934 film Manhattan Melodrama, “It's Just That Kind Of Play”, which, however, was cut from the film before release. The studio then asked for a nightclub number for the film. Rodgers still liked the melody so Hart wrote a third lyric, “The Bad In Every Man”. The song, which was also released as sheet music, was not a hit.
After the film was released by MGM, Jack Robbins — the head of the studio's publishing company — decided that the tune was suited to commercial release but needed more romantic lyrics and a punchier title. Hart was initially reluctant to write yet another lyric but he was persuaded. The result was
you saw me standing alone
without a dream in my heart
without a love of my own
Robbins licensed the song to Hollywood Hotel, a radio program that used it as the theme. It was subsequently featured in at least seven more MGM films including the Marx Brothers' At the Circus and Viva Las Vegas.