Irving Berlin’s Alexander’s Ragtime Band is a grand filmusical which stirs and thrills, a medley of more than 30 pieces, selected from some 600 which Berlin has composed.
Although the story opens back in 1911, the narrative moves swiftly through the years. None of the characters ages a single grey hair in 25 years.
Richard Sherman conceived the story idea with a central figure, a San Francisco bandmaster who adopts the name of Alexander. It is strictly fiction with only slight similarity to the Berlin biog. The screenplay is a fine piece of work in its subtle and logical inclusions of the Berlin ballads. Henry King directs with humor and sentiment, letting loose with an occasional broadside of mass movement.
Berlin supervised the musical angles and, in addition, tossed off three new numbers, Now It Can Be told , ‘My Walking Stick’ and ‘Marching Along with Time’.
In the foreground are Tyrone Power, as Alexander; Alice Faye; and Don Ameche, who carries most of the story with an occasional song number of his own. Cast is heavy with featured names. Although Ethel Merman is a late entry into the proceedings, she sings and acts excellently. Jack Haley shows advantageously in comedy.
1938: Best Score (Alfred Newman).
Nominations: Best Picture, Original Story (Irving Berlin), Art Direction, Editing, Song ( Now It Can Be Told )