Alexander’s Ragtime Band (1938)

HENRY KING

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBBB.  

USA, 1938.  Twentieth Century Fox.  Screenplay by , , adaptation by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by , . Production Design by Bernard Herzbrun, .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Fantastic Irving Berlin musical features over two dozen of the famed composer’s works, plus a terrific lead performance by  as a boozy singer who comes between two good friends (, ), 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  in its last third just for good measure. Indulge!

Academy Award:  Best Scoring
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Original Story; Best Art Direction; Best Film Editing; Best Song (“Now It Can Be Told”)

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