Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB. USA, 1938. Twentieth Century Fox. Screenplay by Kathryn Scola, Lamar Trotti, adaptation by Richard Sherman. Cinematography by J. Peverell Marley. Produced by Harry Joe Brown. Music by Irving Berlin, Alfred Newman. Production Design by Bernard Herzbrun, Boris Leven. Costume Design by Gwen Wakeling. Film Editing by Barbara McLean. Academy Awards 1938.
Fantastic Irving Berlin musical features over two dozen of the famed composer’s works, plus a terrific lead performance by Alice Faye as a boozy singer who comes between two good friends (Don Ameche, Tyrone Power), but also starts a huge dance fad (ragtime). Joining the boys’ band, which has now been named after their premier hit song “Alexander’s Ragtime Band”, the troupe travels the country performing their popular tunes until they hit pay dirt and get the chance to go big time. Unfortunately, getting their names in lights involves making some personal relationship sacrifices. Dramatically involving, plus pure delight for musical lovers, this film starts great, continues so, and then adds a rip-roaring Ethel Merman in its last third just for good measure. Indulge!