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 th... more »e 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.« less
J. Michael Click | Fort Worth, Texas United States | 10/02/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"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. The extras include 3 rarely seen musical sequences that were deleted from the final cut of the film; the Original Theatrical Trailer; Fox Movietone News footage of the film's British premiere (fascinating to see the English hoopla surrounding this quintessentially American feature); and best of all, the full-length A&E Biography segment, "Alice Faye: The Girl Next Door". If only the film itself were as lovingly presented as the wonderful bonus materials, this would be a must-have DVD. A pity. "
Stunning tribute to some of Irving Berlin's very best
Simon Davis | 04/03/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
""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"!Having just previously worked together in Fox's classic "In Old Chicago", Tyrone Power, Alice Faye, and Don Ameche were by this stage a well oiled team of professionals that were as effective in period dramas as they were in this production. Alice Faye in particular has a real showcase in this production with her development from the loud saloon singer into a world acclaimed artist in her own right.Her unusual deep smoky singing style in particular really suits the tunes she performs here. In particular her rendition of "Blue Skies" is unforgettable and really is the most memorable song used here. Tyrone Power was just reaching his peak when "Alexander's Ragtime Band", went into production. His stylish good looks often hide the fact that his was a fine acting talent and he certainly proves it in his playing of the determined young band leader who encounters all kinds of difficulties in his climb to the top in swing. His onscreen chemistry with Don Ameche and with Alice Faye in particular works wonderfully and he would work with her rather sadly only one more time in the next year in "Rose of Washington Square". Also of great interest in this film is a rare early appearance by the legendary Ethel Merman as Jerry Allen who comes in as the replacement singer when Stella leaves the band. Merman was a formidable talent but somehow with the exception of her classic "Call Me Madam", never really became a successful movie actress. Her great stardom came fittingly on Broadway where her name became legend. Merman is best in her musical numbers in this film where her terrific vocal range and delivery are evident. Her rendition of "Blue Skies" is also one of the films show stoppers.The Beauty of "Alexander's Ragtime Band", also lays in the great attention to period detail employed here. Fox went all out as befitted a Darryl F. Zanuck production with lavish sets, stunning costumes and brisk energic direction by the legendary Henry King who always worked so well with Tyrone Power. Indeed the look of this film is really eye stopping and it was Fox's most expensive production that year. All the effort resulted in a stunning six Academy Award nominations including one for Best Picture, it being a rare honour for a musical to be included in that category.For anyone looking for a musical feast for both the ears and the eyes "Alexander's Ragtime Band", is unsurpassed entertainment from the old school of movie making. Knowing that so many of Irving Berlin's signature tunes came from this production certainly reserves it a special place in musical history. For those that love his work, and admire Tyrone Power and Alice Faye at the peak of their success and beauty then you can't go past this film rendition of Irving Berlin's "Alexander's Ragtime Band"."
Great movie - deplorable quality DVD from Fox
tacks31 | San Francisco, CA | 01/21/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)
"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."
FILM GETS 5 STARS---DVD GETS 1 STAR. WHAT A SHAME!
Eric | Columbus, OH | 12/13/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"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!"
Fine classic movie musical bursting with song and dance !!!
Matthew G. Sherwin | last seen screaming at Amazon customer service | 04/17/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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. What happens to Stella after she becomes a huge star and marries Charlie? Is she happy with that life or does she want something else? Will Jerry Allen take Alexander's mind off Stella--at one point Alexander actually asks Jerry to marry him--how will that turn out? No plot spoilers here, folks--you'll just have to watch the movie to find out!
The DVD has some rather good extras. There is the "biography channel" episode of the life and career of Alice Faye; this is very well done. We also get deleted scenes and footage of the movie's premiere in London, England. There's even an audio commentary--terrific!
My only complaint--and it's somewhat minor--is that there IS a vertical, white line "scratch" on the screen starting about 35 minutes into the picture and it never really goes away although it is less noticeable in many subsequent scenes. I will take off one star for this flaw; this will be a four star review.
Alexander's Ragtime Band is an excellent motion picture musical from the golden age of Hollywood. I highly recommend this for fans of classic musicals. "