Irving Berlin songs highlight this musical about a band leader and a singer, who quarrel and have difficulty getting together.
In San Francisco Roger Grant (Tyrone Power) plays violin and works at night. Singer Stella Kirby (Alice Faye) asks for a chance and sings "Alexander's Ragtime Band" when Roger plays her song with Charlie (Don Ameche), Davey (Jack Haley), and Bill (Paul Hurst). Stella quarrels with Roger, and Professor Heinrich (Jean Hersholt) objects to Roger's ragtime. Charlie calms Stella's ruffled feelings. The band sings "Everybody's Doing It." Charlie tells Stella she has improved for the better and sings "Now It Can Be Told" for her. She sings it but looks at Roger, and he kisses her. Charlie imitates a chef to get theatrical producer Dillingham (Joe King) to hear the band. Stella sings "All Aboard for Alabam." She tells Roger and Charlie that Dillingham is taking her to New York. Roger gets angry at Stella and tells Charlie to leave too.
Roger and Davey join the army and get permission to do a show. Davey sings "You Gotta Get Up" on Broadway. Stella asks to see Roger; but they have to ship out and skip to the finale, marching out. After the war Roger returns and sees star Stella. He asks her to forgive him and says he wants her; but she says she married Charlie. Davey brings singer Jerry (Ethel Merman) to Roger, who drinks. Jerry sings "Say It with Music."
A year later Stella and Charlie see Bill bootlegging and learn that Roger is in Greenwich. Charlie asks Stella to end the marriage, because she loves Roger. Stella goes to a speakeasy and is welcomed by Bill, Davey, and Roger. She learns the band is going to Europe. Ruby (Ruth Terry) just married Davey and tells Stella that Jerry kept Roger from being a drunk. Jerry sings "Blue Skies. Stella sadly watches their boat leave. Jerry sings "My Walking Stick" in London. Stella quits her show and on a train hears "Remember" on a record. Jerry sings "Steppin'," but Stella sings "All Alone." In the rain Roger asks Jerry to marry, but she says he is not in love with her. Roger returns and gets on radio. Charlie auditions ballads for Roger and says Stella left after the divorce. Charlie tells Roger she still loves him, and they try to find her. Stella goes to Bill's restaurant and learns Roger is looking for her. Roger gives a formal concert at Carnegie Hall. Stella hears it in a taxi. Charlie sings "Easter Parade." Stella finds it is sold out, but the taxi driver (John Carradine) lets her listen to his radio. Jerry sings "Heat Wave." Finally Stella goes backstage, and Roger gets her to sing "Alexander's Ragtime Band."
This classic musical is packed with songs and portrays two artistic temperaments that are mutually attracted but clash in the unresolved sexual tension.