The jaunty rhythms of Irving Berlin drive Alexander's Ragtime Band, an epic musical from 1938 that follows the up-and-down romance of a young bandleader (Tyrone Power, Witness for the Prosecution) and the singer he loves (Alice Faye, Tin Pan Alley) over decades. Their journey from a San Francisco honky-tonk to mass popularity is marked by classic songs like "Oh How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning," "Blue Skies," "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody," "Easter Parade," and the title track. Power and Faye are a little bland, but the supporting cast--including Don Ameche (Midnight), Jack Haley (the Tin Woodsman from The Wizard of Oz), and a very young Ethel Merman--give the movie some real personality, as do a few wild dance numbers. At the end, the movie becomes surprisingly suspenseful and even a little touching. --Bret Fetzer
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