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Alexander's Ragtime Band


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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: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002B15RE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,527 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Alexander's Ragtime Band" on IMDb

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

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.

Amazon.com

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

Customer Reviews

Acting is good and the music great.
Paul Hawker
Other distributors of DVD's should listen to this audio commentary as an example of how it should be done!
J. Klein
I highly recommend this for fans of classic musicals.
Matthew G. Sherwin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 65 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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49 of 53 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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26 of 28 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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By J. Klein on November 24, 2008
Format: DVD
This is an excellent DVD. I particularly enjoyed the audio commentary by Ray Faiola, which is superb. The commentary is so full of valuable historical information and trivia. I have listened to many DVD audio commentaries, and they range in quality from very good to very bad. This audio commentary is, without a doubt, one of the best I have ever heard. Other distributors of DVD's should listen to this audio commentary as an example of how it should be done! There are other good extras on this DVD, including an A&E Biography on Alice Faye, three deleted musical numbers in pristine condition, and newsreel footage of the London premiere.

A word about the DVD transfer quality - I have noticed that some of the other reviewers on Amazon.com have carped about the picture quality, saying that it is supposedly "terrible". Trust me, this is not true! The only defect is a faint vertical line that runs through the picture that looks like a scratch on the original negative. However, the viewer becomes so engrossed in the film that he forgets all about that faint line, and it does not distract at all. Some of these other critics who are complaining about the picture quality of this DVD - well, they just need to get a life! I can certainly live with that faint line. We're lucky this film even exists at all, as the film stock on which movies were made before the 1950s was nitrate based, which dissolved after a few decades. Because of this, many old movies have disintegrated and are totally unavailable today for viewing. So take your pick - a faint vertical line in the picture, or nothing. If you have any doubts about the picture quality, rent it first through Netflix (like I did), then buy it on Amazon.com. This DVD is a must for a serious film buff!
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