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Alexander's Ragtime Band (1938)

Approved | | Drama, Musical, Romance | 16 August 1938 (USA)
3:42 | Trailer

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This send-up of ragtime song and dance begins in 1915 San Francisco when society boy Roger Grant decides to pursue popular rather than serious music.



(screen play), (screen play) | 1 more credit »
Won 1 Oscar. Another 6 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Alexander (Roger Grant)
Jerry Allen
Davey Lane
Professor Heinrich
Aunt Sophie
Taxi Driver
Wally Vernon ...
Wally Vernon
Eddie Collins ...
Corporal Collins
Stage Manager


Roger Grant, a classical violinist, disappoints his family and teacher when he organizes a jazz band, but he and the band become successful. Roger falls in love with his singer Stella, but his reluctance to lose her leads him to thwart her efforts to become a solo star. When the World War separates them in 1917, Stella marries Roger's best friend Charlie. Roger comes home after the war and an important concert at Carnegie Hall brings the corners of the romantic triangle together. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

band | ragtime | violinist | singer | dance | See All (60) »


An American Cavalcade!


Drama | Musical | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

16 August 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Irving Berlin's Alexander's Ragtime Band  »

Box Office


$2,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA High Fidelity Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


33 Irving Berlin compositions were used in the filming, although 3 didn't survive through to the final cut. See more »


When Wally Vernon comes forward to do his specialty number, he passes Alexander twice, glancing at him both times. See more »


Stella's Sailor freind: So, did you ever learn long division?
Stella Kirby: I never even learned short division!
See more »

Crazy Credits

The music that Tyrone Power "conducts" during the film's opening credits is the song "Marching Along With Time", which was ultimately cut from the film. The song, however, as sung by Ethel Merman, has survived as an outtake and can be seen as an extra feature on the DVD. See more »


Referenced in All Creatures Great and Small: Puppy Love (1978) See more »


We're On Our Way to France
(1918) (uncredited)
Written by Irving Berlin
Performed by chorus
See more »

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User Reviews

Despite the polish, it's pretty much what you'd expect and nothing more.
25 October 2010 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

This film starred the top talent at Twentieth-Century Fox. Tyrone Power (who could not sing or play music), Alice Faye and Don Ameche star in this film directed by Henry King and featuring the music of Irving Berlin. Clearly it was a prestige film for the studio--a large budget film with high expectations for success.

The film begins with Power playing sophisticated music for a crowd of high-class folks. Only moments later, however, he's playing Ragtime music for a crowd in a bar--and it's obvious that he's torn between the world of society and popular music. Quite by Hollywood accident, the feisty Alice Faye is pulled into Power's band and the way she and Power meet and get along is very clichéd--you know, the misunderstanding that results in them becoming enemies and you KNOW they'll be in love sooner or later! She is a low-class dame and over time, Power is able to polish her image and make her a success--along with his band. On hand is another cliché--the nice-guy friend (Ameche) who loves the girl but demurs when his friend and the dame become a pair. You almost feel sorry for Ameche getting such a thankless role as the 'nice' friend...though I am sure his enormous checks from the studio more than made up for this! And then there's the final big cliché when Faye and Power break up--only, naturally, to be reunited by the film's conclusion. The only question is what, exactly, will happen in between--and there are certainly a lot of twists that occur in the interim in their parallel journeys. WWI, another woman (a younger and amazingly pretty Ethel Merman), marriage and bootlegging all are among the things the film explores during this portion. And if all this seems familiar, it is if you've seen many Fox musicals. This plot, with a few changes, was used in "King of Burlesque" and many other films with Alice Faye.

As for the film overall, it's pretty much what you expect from the studio--a lot of music (way too much, actually), a lot of polish and the best sets money can buy (Twentieth-Century Fox and MGM were the kings of such lavish productions). But, beneath all the polish, it is all formula and clichés--the sort of film that is pleasant but certainly not a must-see. Plus, oddly, the music, for the most part, isn't exactly Ragtime--often it's more the typical sort of musical numbers you'd see in just about any Fox production of the day.

By the way, in the WWI portion, I noticed that some of the soldiers were amazingly old and fat. Were we THAT desperate for men?! And get a load of those devil-girl dancers at about the 75 minute mark!

5 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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