To the tunes of Irving Berlin, Alice Faye and Ethel-Merman vocalize their way through a familiar but amusing version of boy-meets-boy-loses-boy-gets in the current screening of "Alexander's Ragtime Band" at the University. The story itself, showing the incredible ups and downs of show business, covers the last quarter of a century in an interesting if superficial picture of the times.
What makes "Alexander's Ragtime Band" an outstanding and in places a profound production is the music. Mr. Berlin's succession of song hits reflect America's changing taste and changing tempo. They are presented here in chronological order, and the history of "jazz" is traced from its noisy pre-war origins, down to the sophisticated swing of today. Happiness, pathos, sentimentality, escapism, the emotions that characterized the years are all there, woven into a curious unity by a composer who has always written for the rank and file. It is pleasant to record that since the picture was first released, the new compositions it contains have also been added to Mr. Berlin's success.