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Garden of the Moon (1938)

Approved | | Comedy, Musical, Romance | 1 October 1938 (USA)
John Quinn is the ruthless manager of the night club Garden of the Moon. He has booked Rudy Vallee & his Connecticut Yankees for a season as his band, but due to a car accident Vallee can't... See full summary »


Busby Berkeley


Jerry Wald (screen play), Richard Macaulay (screen play) | 2 more credits »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Pat O'Brien ... John Quinn
Margaret Lindsay ... Toni Blake
John Payne ... Don Vincente
Johnnie Davis ... Slappy Harris
Melville Cooper ... Maurice
Isabel Jeans ... Mrs. Lornay
Mabel Todd ... Mary Stanton
Penny Singleton ... Miss Calder
Dick Purcell ... Rick Fulton
Curt Bois ... Maharajah of Sund
Granville Bates ... Angus McGillicuddy
Edward McWade ... Peter McGillicuddy
Larry Williams ... Trent
Ray Mayer Ray Mayer ... Musician
Jerry Colonna ... Musician


John Quinn is the ruthless manager of the night club Garden of the Moon. He has booked Rudy Vallee & his Connecticut Yankees for a season as his band, but due to a car accident Vallee can't work for a while, Quinn's secretary Toni Blake is only able to get the unknown band of Don Vincente. Quinn makes it clear to Vincente, that he has only to work for a fortneight, untill Valle is able to work. Vincente doesn't like the way of Quinn handling his personal and they start their small private war against each other. Vincente falls in love with Toni Blake, and when Vincente becomes famous, inspite of Quinn's trials to make a fool out of him and gets an offer for a radio programm, he gladly accepts. But Toni Blake don't want to leave her job in the Garden of the Moon, so Quinn starts his game to get Vincente back. Written by Stephan Eichenberg <eichenbe@fak-cbg.tu-muenchen.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

watch | waiter | singer | royalty | riot | See All (29) »


Visit the World's Swankiest Swing Spot


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Release Date:

1 October 1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

No Mundo da Lua See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The roles played by John Payne and Margaret Lindsay were originally intended for Dick Powell and Bette Davis. Powell took a layoff rather than make this film. See more »


Toni Blake: I hope you got your pants pressed.
Slappy Harris: Well, at least I got 'em on.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The credits are printed into a restaurant menu and the pages are turned by a male hand. See more »


I'll String Along With You
(1934) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Al Dubin
Partially sung a cappella by Pat O'Brien (with modified lyrics: "I May Not Be an Angel ...")
See more »

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User Reviews

Night Club Scandals of 1938
13 December 2004 | by lugonianSee all my reviews

GARDEN OF THE MOON (Warner Brothers/ First National Pictures, 1938), directed by Busby Berkeley, might have some distinctions of being a science fiction fantasy from the 1950s about some landscaper taking up residence in outer space. As the title indicates, it's the name of a high class nightclub located at the Royal Hotel in Los Angeles, California. With the name of Busby Berkeley credited as its director, this is a musical, and a musical without its Number One vocalist Dick Powell in the lead. Sources have it that Powell turned down this role, and was substituted by an unknown by the name of John Payne, which rhymes with John Wayne, but the same John Payne whose career peaked in the 1940s while at 20th Century-Fox, where his best known work happens to be MIRACLE ON 34th STREET (1947) starring Maureen O'Hara and Edmund Gwenn.

The story for GARDEN OF THE MOON is lively, tuneful, simple but very predictable. It centers mainly upon John Quinn (Pat O'Brien), the ruthless proprietor of the famous bistro. After losing the engagement of Rudy Vallee and his Connecticut Yankees in a bus accident, Quinn hires Don Vicente (John Payne), an unknown band-leader under the recommendation of his publicity agent, Toni Blake (Margaret Lindsay). While Vicente plays wherever engagements are available, he readily accepts his assignment working for Quinn, but is not happy with only a two week engagement. Determined to make good in spite of everything, Vicente goes against Quinn's orders, causing Quinn to do whatever possible to discourage him. Vicente, on the other hand, is usually one up on Quinn, clashes leading to schemes and tricks upon one another(some backfiring), with Toni acting as referee.

With music and lyrics by Harry Warren, Al Dubin and Johnny Mercer, the motion picture soundtrack is as follows: "Garden of the Moon" (sung by Mabel Todd, but never in its entirety); "Love Is Where You Find It" (sung by John Payne and Johnnie Davis); "The Lady on the Two-Cent Stamp" (sung by John Payne and band); "Confidentially" (first sung by Mabel Todd, but after much difficulty in trying to vocalize, since Payne does not use girl singers in his band, she is drowned out by the loud playing, causing her to walk out and Payne to take over); "Love Is Where You Find It" (reprise by Payne); "The Girl Friend of the Whirling Dervish" (sung by John Payne and band); and "Confidentially" (sung by John Payne and cast).

Other members of the cast include: Melville Cooper, Isabel Jeans, Richard Purcell, Larry Williams, Granville Bates, Edward McWade, Curt Bois (as the fired pickpocketing waiter posing as the famed Maharajah); and Edgar Edwards (Chauncey, the Ape Man). Penny Singleton, best known for her leading role in the popular "Blondie" film series (Columbia, 1938-1950) appearing briefly as Miss Calder, Quinn's brunette secretary, with horn-rim glasses. Special billing in the opening and closing cast credits goes to newspaper columnist Jimmie Fidler appearing as himself. This became his one and only screen appearance. Now there's one for the "Who's Who in Journalism."

Unlike WONDER BAR (1934), Busby Berkeley's earlier musical set entirely in a night club, GARDEN OF THE MOON has no lavish scale production numbers, no smiling chorines nor overhead camera shots. It consists mainly of tunes vocalized by John Payne and his oddity of characters in the band. Berkeley keeps his camera moving though, focusing on each individual band member consisting of Jerry Colonna, Ray Mayer, and Joe Venuti and his Swing Cats. "The Lady on the Two-Cent Stamp," is tuneful, and at times the score sounds a lot like the earlier Warren and Dubin song, "You Gotta Know How to Dance," introduced in COLLEEN (Warners, 1936) starring Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler. This number, along with "The Girl Friend of the Whirling Dervish," are both played strictly for laughs, with the latter having Colonna (the one with the big rolling eyes, mustache and loud yell), as the "Girl Friend" with a veil concealing "her" face and with his visible big round eyes rolling around in all directions, but not simultaneously, as the band members sing and clown it up.

As mentioned before, GARDEN OF THE MOON is predictable, but predictable in the sense of Pat O'Brien's character, a fast-talking promoter, which he's many times before, in this instance, self-centered, ruthless, but quite deceitful. The running gag here is having him breaking his "mother's" watch in anger only to gain sympathy so he could get what he wants from others. One pleasant surprise is finding Margaret Lindsay in a musical film. Lindsay's pleasant personality and dark-haired features simply add some simplicity of the story. Aside from this being her only musical for Warners, GARDEN OF THE MOON goes on record as Busby Berkeley's final musical for the studio before moving his assignments to MGM.

Virtually forgotten, and nowhere near as good as ALEXANDER'S RAGTIME BAND (20th Century-Fox), another musical about a leader (Tyrone Power) of the band, GARDEN OF THE MOON, like many Berkeley musicals, predates some future musical genres, in this case, that of the "big band". GARDEN OF THE MOON doesn't present the score in the "big band" manner, nor legends like Benny Goodman, for example, (though he previously appeared in Berkeley's Hollywood HOTEL in 1937), but a movie musical style that would become popular in the 1940s.

GARDEN OF THE MOON, at 94 minutes, has never been distributed on video cassette. It does turn up occasionally on Turner Classic Movies. Occasionally bright and breezy, sometimes silly but often amusing, the movie itself, with some slow spots during its last half hour, is no masterpiece but passable screen entertainment, especially for curiosity seekers of obscure 1930s cinema such as this one. (***)

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