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The Fountainhead (1949)

Approved | | Drama, Romance | 2 July 1949 (USA)
An uncompromising, visionary architect struggles to maintain his integrity and individualism despite personal, professional and economic pressures to conform to popular standards.



(screenplay), (novel)

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Complete credited cast:
Alvah Scarret


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


Monumental Best-Seller! Towering Screen Triumph! See more »


Drama | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

2 July 1949 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Le rebelle  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


King Vidor originally hoped to cast Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in the lead roles, but Ayn Rand insisted on Gary Cooper in the lead. Bacall was cast opposite Cooper, but dropped out before filming began. Hoping the film would make her a star, Warner Bros cast a relative unknown, 22-year-old Patricia Neal, after considering and then rejecting Bette Davis, Ida Lupino, Alexis Smith, and Barbara Stanwyck as replacements for Bacall. Cooper objected to Neal being cast, but during filming, Cooper and Neal began an affair. See more »


When the Banner prints its front page story "The Truth about Howard Roark", a six-paragraph story is shown - but the first three paragraphs of the story are exactly the same as the last three paragraphs. See more »


Ellsworth Toohey: I feel it is my duty to offer you my advice.
Gail Wynand: Whom do you recommend?
Ellsworth Toohey: The rising star of the profession, Peter Keating. No other architect can equal his ability. That Mr. Wynant, is my sincere opinion.
Gail Wynand: I believe you.
Ellsworth Toohey: You do?
Gail Wynand: Of course, but Mr. Toohey, why should I consider your opinion?
Ellsworth Toohey: Well, after all, I am the architectural critic of The Banner.
Gail Wynand: My dear Toohey, don;t confuse me with my readers!
See more »


Featured in The Marvellous World of Roald Dahl (2016) See more »

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User Reviews

Score not by Franz Waxman
27 February 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Whatever you think of the score, it's by Max Steiner, not Franz Waxman. Just an FYI.

Personally I think it's overwrought and inappropriate. It's a movie about a hardcore, uncompromising modernist artist (or least a cartoon version of one), and the score is a typical 40s melange of Richard Strauss and Rachmanninof with perhaps a touch of Scriabin here and there. I'm not sure what Roark would have listened to, but somehow I doubt it would have been post-Romantic treacle (although apparently that's what Rand liked, since her favorite composer was Rachmanninof).

Others have excoriated the casting, but I just have to pile on: was ever an A-list Hollywood star so dreadfully miscast in a high-profile picture as was Gary Cooper as Roark? I can't think of one. Wrong physical type, WAY too old, and completely wrong temperament. Clearly he had not a clue what the role was about (of course, no rational human being would, so perhaps that's not really his fault). Not that I think the best cast in the world could have rescued this script, which, as others have pointed out, hardly contains a single sentence you can imagine any human being ever uttering. I know Rand never claimed to writing realistic dialog, but still...

But more importantly, of all the artistic professions Rand could have chosen for her hardcore, uncompromising modernist artist, architecture is probably the worst. Building buildings, like it or not, is a thoroughly cooperative endeavor in which the architect is only one of many players. A crucial one, of course, but still only one, and almost never the one who puts up the money. A building is simply not a picture you can look at, or not, or buy or not; not a piece of music you can listen to, or not, or buy the recording or not; not a play or movie you can choose to attend, or not (or even walk out of if you don't like it). A building is a place, in which real people live and/or work. A building design is not just a work of imagination, it is virtually always a "work for hire," commissioned by a client, who has specific needs and conditions that must be met. The architect can always refuse the commission, but once accepted, it must be lived up to. And guess what? That often involves a certain level of compromise.

The only reason I even give The Fountainhead as high a rating as 2 is that it is gorgeous to look at.

However, as a glimpse at the appalling philosophy of an appalling human being, the movie is probably pretty good. Watching it will save the endless hours of slogging through her books. And as you do, remember that the current economic situation can be largely laid at Rand's feet, since much of it is the result of her acolyte, Alan Greenspan, applying her ideas to real life.

20 of 33 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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