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The Fountainhead (1949)

 -  Drama  -  2 July 1949 (USA)
7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 6,200 users  
Reviews: 185 user | 25 critic

An uncompromising, visionary architect struggles to maintain his integrity and individualism despite personal, professional and economic pressures to conform to popular standards.

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(screenplay), (novel)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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...
...
Kent Smith ...
Robert Douglas ...
...
...
Roger Enright
Moroni Olsen ...
Chairman
Jerome Cowan ...
Alvah Scarret
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Storyline

Individualistic and idealistic architect Howard Roark is expelled from college because his designs fail to fit with existing architectural thinking. He seems unemployable but finally lands a job with like-minded Henry Cameron, however within a few years Cameron drinks himself to death, warning Roark that the same fate awaits unless he compromises his ideals. Roark is determined to retain his artistic integrity at all costs. Written by Col Needham <col@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The great best seller made greater on the screen by Warner Bros. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

2 July 1949 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Le rebelle  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The view from Gail Wynand's office appears to be the view from the dome of the former New York World Building on Park Row, which contained the office of publisher Joseph Pulitzer, the World's publisher. Despite this, the character of Gail Wynand is believed to be based on Pulitzer's arch-rival William Randolph Hearst. See more »

Goofs

Howard shatters Dominique's slightly damaged fireplace slab with a chisel and says, "Now it's broken and has to be replaced." When Dominique asks Howard if he can replace it, the next shot of Howard shows him kneeling in front of the not-yet shattered marble slab. See more »

Quotes

Henry Cameron: I told them that the form of a building must follow its function.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Zizek! (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

 
one of the most unintentionally hilarious movies ever made
3 November 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

To put it mildly, I have no idea how cast and crew got through each day of filming without collapsing onto the floor in convulsive laughter. How Ayn Rand's script, basically a polemic on the virtues of self-interest, ever got green-lighted by Warner Bros. is a mystery for the ages. The characters are just cardboard props set up to mouth Rand's philosophy, which is divorced from any mature world view. The storyline itself is no more than a sermon definable by its pathological psychology preached in dead earnest. It is for these reasons, the movie can't even be enjoyed as entertaining camp.

Gary Cooper, an actor comfortable portraying easy-going, modest men of virtue, is tasked with playing a character completely out of his skill set or comfort zone. He's Howard Roark, an architect who is defiantly ego-driven to wrestle life into a shape that conforms to his own terms. He'd rather be reviled and ridiculed than compromise his vision to please the degraded sensibilities of the common masses. Cooper's take is to play him as a man of solemn dignity, but what we get on screen is a confused actor whose self-containment comes off as disinterest and boredom. Twenty-two year old Patricia Neal is the heroine in this tale of gods, goddesses and villains. The romance between her character Dominique Francon and the rogue genius Roark has all the fantasy elements and juvenile dialogue that would enchant the mind of a starry-eyed, young girl's dream world of knights and damsels.

And then Rand gives you a scene delivered in complete seriousness. A Freudian cliché is played out with such obvious intent; the childishness of it would even have made Freud himself burst out laughing. We see Roark, the man who will never compromise, the unacknowledged avatar of modern architecture, driven to earn a living doing manual labor. In a stone quarry Roark toils manfully ramming his huge, powerful electric drill into a wall. Looming overhead, perched above him on a lofty ridge, is an imperious Dominique watching mesmerized at how skillfully Roark operates his tool. This appreciation of equipment is a love match from the get-go.

But the clichés in this movie hit you in abundance. The architectural critic of the city's most influential newspaper is one Ellsworth M. Toohey, presented as the physical incarnation of the stock Victorian villain. His name is reminiscent of a Dickens character, and like many of Dickens' evildoers, he's effete and snake-like.

The Fountainhead is so stilted, phony, and pasteboard, it's tempting to go on and on about this film disaster. Why then do I give it a "5?" I think it's so bad that it merits watching as a prime example of just how bad a bad movie can really be.


2 of 2 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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