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Alexander's Ragtime Band

63 customer reviews

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(Sep 07, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Tyrone Power stars in this "must-see" (TV Giude) film as a free thinking classical musician who wants the world to dance to a different beat. Set in the early 1900's this extravaganza of music, story and romance follows the highs and lows in the life of Roger Grant, a high-brow-born San Franciscan who changes his name to Alexander and conducts a band with a whole new sound - Swing! And just as Grant meets with musical successes and failures, he smolders and is occasionally scorched by Stella Kirby (Alice Faye), his lead singer. Also featuring the delightful Don Ameche as Grant's romantic competitor, a wonderfully comic Jack Haley and then newcomer Ethel Merman, this musical treasure is a perfect addition to any collection of film classics.

The jaunty rhythms of Irving Berlin drive Alexander's Ragtime Band, an epic musical from 1938 that follows the up-and-down romance of a young bandleader (Tyrone Power, Witness for the Prosecution) and the singer he loves (Alice Faye, Tin Pan Alley) over decades. Their journey from a San Francisco honky-tonk to mass popularity is marked by classic songs like "Oh How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning," "Blue Skies," "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody," "Easter Parade," and the title track. Power and Faye are a little bland, but the supporting cast--including Don Ameche (Midnight), Jack Haley (the Tin Woodsman from The Wizard of Oz), and a very young Ethel Merman--give the movie some real personality, as do a few wild dance numbers. At the end, the movie becomes surprisingly suspenseful and even a little touching. --Bret Fetzer

Special Features

  • Deleted scenes: Some Sunny Day, In My Harem, Marching Along with Me
  • A&E Biography: Alice Faye: The Star Next Door
  • Fox Movietone News: Sensational London premiere

Product Details

  • Actors: Tyrone Power, Alice Faye, Don Ameche, Ethel Merman, Jack Haley
  • Directors: Henry King
  • Writers: Darryl F. Zanuck, Irving Berlin, Kathryn Scola, Lamar Trotti, Richard Sherman
  • Producers: Harry Joe Brown
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: September 7, 2004
  • Run Time: 106 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002B15RE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,587 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Alexander's Ragtime Band" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

67 of 71 people found the following review helpful By J. Michael Click on October 1, 2004
Format: DVD
Film: ***** Extras: ***** DVD Transfer Quality: BOMB

Another huge disappointment from Fox Home Video. "Alexander's Ragtime Band" was 20th Century-Fox's most prestigious production of 1938, featuring three of the studio's biggest box office draws (Tyrone Power, Alice Faye, and Don Ameche); a marvelous supporting cast led by Ethel Merman, Jean Hersholt, and John Carradine; outstanding direction by veteran Henry King; and a slight but entertaining script that showcased more than two dozen of prolific songwriter Irving Berlin's most beloved melodies. The prototype for the big budget musicals that Fox would perfect in the 1940's, the film was a huge hit with the public and critics alike, garnering six Oscar nominations (including Best Picture) and winning the statuette for Best Music Scoring.

One might think that Fox would take special care in mastering such a revered film for its DVD release - especially when releasing it under the Fox "Studio Classics" banner - but one would be wrong. Although the film's soundtrack has been painstakingly preserved, the visuals are inexcusably shoddy. Specifically, there is a visual noise line that appears in the midst of Chapter 8 (during the song "Now It Can Be Told") and continues to disrupt the picture for the remaining hour or so of the film. This distortion never appeared on the various prints shown on pay cable stations during the past 20 years, and should not appear in a home video release that purports to be "restored".

This major and obnoxious glitch is especially upsetting because the rest of the DVD is so appealing.
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Simon Davis on April 2, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
"Alexander's Ragtime Band" is wonderful entertainment in so many different ways and its chief fame rests undoubtedly on the fact that it provided a perfect showcase for almost two dozen Irving Berlin tunes that have gone down into musical history. Who can forget the magical "Blue Skies", and of course the celebrated title tune "Alexander's Ragtime Band". Twentieth Century Fox pulled all the stops out with this 1838 production not only providing Irving Berlin with a stunning showcase for his musical genius but with an opulent no expense spared tribute to the enduring talents of lead performers Tyrone Power and Alice Faye.
Tyrone Power has the lead role of Nob Hill raised Roger Grant ne: Alexander, an earnest young conductor in 1911 San Francisco committed to the elevation of swing as a musical force in its own right. The story covers over 3 decades as we see his rise and fall and rise again as his fortunes change with each passing decade. In particular the focus is on his love/hate, on again/off again relationship with the band's lead singer Stella Kirby (Alice Faye)a brassy saloon singer from the Barbary Coast with no refinement but alot of energy and a great talent. Their's is a tumultous relationship which sees them unwillingly thrown together in their work, through a veiled attraction to each other, to separation by war, to Stella developing refinement and then finding fame in New York as a solo singer through to her unhappy marriage to a member of the Band Charlie Dwyer (Dom Ameche in another underrated performance) Of course the resolution at the conclusion is a happy one with the pair being finally reunited in a rousing rendition at Carnegie Hall of, you guessed it "Alexander's Ragtime Band"!
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53 of 57 people found the following review helpful By tacks31 on January 20, 2005
Format: DVD
Fox Studios obviously took a worn print that was shown 250 times on late night tv and slapped it onto a DVD format. This is a classic film that deserves better. What an absolute disgrace! The execs at Fox should be ashamed of themselves.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Eric on December 12, 2004
Format: DVD
I love this movie. Its story is ridiculous. The main characters span 27 years but do not age. The dialogue is corny. But the SONGS, those great Irving Berlin songs, are performed with gusto by Alice Faye, Ethel Merman and many more. Add to that Alfred Newman's great musical direction, and Eddie Powell's orchestration and heaven is at your doorstep.

Unfortunately, this release has a blatant WHITE STRACTCH down the left side of the image for most of the film. It's so distracting it makes it hard to enjoy the film. How could Fox do this, with their prestigious STUDIO CLASSIC series, which also by the way, could use a fresh coat of packaging paint. Their covers are awful.

The commentary by Ray Faiola is fun, the outtakes are fun, and the trailer looks TEN TIMES better than the movie.

C'mon Fox, pay attention and do a better job. This was a Best Picture nominee!
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Format: DVD
Alexander's Ragtime Band is one of the very best musicals ever produced by Fox Studios. Of course, the numerous song and dance numbers are beautifully staged; and the songs by Irving Berlin are performed flawlessly by greats Alice Faye, Don Ameche, and a young Ethel Merman. The action moves along at a good pace and the acting was extremely convincing.

The action begins in the early 1900s in San Francisco. A young man from a wealthy society family named Roger Grant (Tyrone Power) just can't stand playing classical music even though he's very good at it. Instead, to the dismay of his family, he forms a ragtime early swing era band and calls it Alexander's Ragtime Band. He even changes his name to Alexander! That's when Alexander and his buddies Charlie Dwyer (Don Ameche) and drummer Davey Lane (Jack Haley) meet up with tough talking Stella Kirby (Alice Faye); but soon Stella is singing with the band.

Romance inevitably blossoms. Eventually, after a few misunderstandings, Stella and Alexander are in love. However, when Stella gets her big break to leave the band and go to New York to star in big Broadway shows, Alexander is furious that she would leave the band behind. Only Charlie sticks up for Stella; and in a fit of rage Alexander tells Charlie that he should also go to New York with Stella.

World War One sets in and Alexander tries to forget about Stella. After the war Alexander returns--only to find that Stella, who he still loves, married Charlie back home during the war. Alexander is depressed but Davey introduces him to Jerry Allen (Ethel Merman). Jerry replaces Stella in their band act and Alexander tries to see if he can find romance with Jerry instead of Stella.

The plot can go in many different directions from here.
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