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Alexander's Ragtime Band (1938)

Approved | | Drama, Musical, Romance | 16 August 1938 (USA)
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 »

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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
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?


This earned the second highest number of Academy Award nominations in 1938, six in total. See more »


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


Stella Kirby: You haven't left me with a word to say.
Charlie Dwyer: That's good. People talk too much anyway.
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 »


Spoofed in The Carol Burnett Show: Episode #6.7 (1972) See more »


Everybody's Doin' It Now
(1911) (uncredited)
Written by Irving Berlin
Performed by Wally Vernon and Dixie Dunbar (dance and vocal) and chorus,
then sung by Alice Faye and chorus
See more »

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User Reviews

6 October 2004 | by (Salt Lake City) – See all my reviews

20th Century Fox's 1938 Alexander'S RAGTIME BAND, Number 22 in their "Studio Classics" series, is with the exception of there 1927 SUNRISE (which was offered only as a promotional item), the earliest title to be offered and it turns out to be quite delightful!

Like many musicals of the time the story is slight and mainly used to advance the musical portions, but this one boasts a large collection from the pen of one of the best -- IRVING BERLIN!

Fox had wanted to do a biography on Irving Berlin -- instead Berlin worked out the story idea of a fictional bandleader ushering in a whole new era of swing music. Berlin worked with Fox during the two year period that was needed to prepare this lavish musical -- and the results are very entertaining as it presents 28 of his most famous songs. Alfred Newman's handling of the music won him a well deserved Oscar.

The cast, which includes Tyrone Power, the delightful Alice Faye, Don Ameche, Jack Haley (the Tin Woodman in "The Wizard of Oz") and a young and very attractive looking Ethel Merman, soars under the hand of veteran director, Henry King. There really isn't a "false note" in acting department.

Over all the picture rendered on the DVD is quite beautiful (though there are a few side scratches from time to time). The icing on this DVD is found in some marvelous "Extras": First of all there is a very fine A&E Biography, "Alice Faye: The Star Next Door", that gives a wonderful account of this once very popular star. There are dozens of nice clips from her film work at Fox (that make you wish that Fox would put out an Alice Faye Collection of six or so of her films in a package like Universal did with Deanna Durbin). After watching this biography I felt like Miss Faye must have been a very nice person as well as a talented singer and actress.

The big surprise is found in the Commentary Track provided by Film Score Restorationist RAY FIOLA. I had the opportunity to meet this gentleman at a Film Score presentation at Brigham Young University. BYU holds the Max Steiner Collection, which includes a large number of phonograph recordings of sound track music that were used for playback as the scores as they were recorded on the sound stages. BYU has issued a series of sound track CD's made from their holdings. Fiola is one of the world experts on preparing these 78rpm records for transferring to CD's. His commentary on this DVD provides a wealth of information about Berlin, his songs and the actors and other behind-the-scenes people who brought ALEXANDER'S RAGTIME BAND to life. He's more informative then a university film class -- and very interesting. This is one of the best of the Fox commentary tracks. Fiola even gives you information on ordering a CD of the ALEXANDER tracks that he worked on.

There is even more: How about three deleted scenes -- which means three deleted songs (and they are all very nice to see and hear). Also included are shots of Irving Berlin being interviewed at the London premiere of the film in newsreel footage.

All in all, this is a very nice addition to the Fox "Studio Classics" series -- one that is well worth adding to anyones collection who is interested in the history of the movies -- especially the history of film musicals.

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