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Patricia Neal Has Skyscraper Envy
henri sauvage16 October 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Ayn Rand called her style of writing "Romantic Realism". As far as her film adaptation of her famous novel "The Fountainhead" is concerned, "Bodice-Ripper with Philosophical Pretensions" would be a more accurate description.

Despite an enormous budget, an accomplished director and some of the best acting talent available in the late 40's, this is one of the most unintentionally hilarious "message" pictures of all time.

Besides the fact that Raymond Massey had major parts in both films (though here it's in a supporting role, as pallid William-Randolph-Hearst-clone Gail Wynand) there are quite a few similarities between this film and another famous flop, 1937's "Things To Come". Both screenplays were written by revered authors with a huge popular following. The films themselves are visually stunning paeans to high technology, with fine casts and lavish production values, all of which are completely subverted by the reams of astonishingly clunky dialog mouthed by their cardboard-cutout characters.

The main difference between the two is that H. G. Wells was near the end of his career as a writer, while Rand was arguably at the peak of her narrative powers.

At least with "The Fountainhead" you know what you're in for from the very beginning, as veteran character actor Henry Hull -- playing Howard Roark's alcoholic, on-the-skids mentor -- doesn't merely chew the scenery but tears into it like a famished piranha, before his character's merciful (for the viewer) demise.

And it's all downhill from there, as Gary Cooper's ersatz Frank Lloyd Wright is dogged by the forces of conformity, personified by despicable architectural critic Elsworth Toohey. Just one of the many sledgehammer-subtle characterizations in this film, this villain does everything but sneer and twirl his moustache (yes, he has a moustache) as he declares that Howard must be crushed, for daring to be an individual and not submitting to the will of the masses (whom Toohey secretly despises).

Roark also designs buildings for which his doughy, loser friend Peter Keating (played by the thoroughly Caucasian Kent Smith) then takes the credit. Fortunately, Roark at least has the forethought to retain his little-known right (SPOILER ALERT) as the real architect to blow up his buildings rather than submit to the crushing tyranny of a conventional facade.

Patricia Neal does lend a certain verve to her role as Dominique, the sexually repressed and capricious romantic interest who must "destroy everything she loves". We know this thanks to an introductory scene where she tilts a large, heavy statue that she admires out the window of her high-rise apartment. ("Look out below: Dominique's in one of her moods again!"). Nor is this the most ham-handed bit of symbolism employed: I defy anyone to sit through the scene where Neal gets a blatant case of the hot sloppies while watching Roark get all sweaty pounding granite with a pneumatic drill without collapsing, helpless in the grip of a fit of uncontrollable laughter.

The rest of the plot is too ludicrous for words, but here are a few highlights from Ayn Rand's Bizarro World brand of "realism":

  • An architectural critic can wield near-dictatorial power by virtue of his vast following among fellow journalists, unimaginative businessmen, and the easily-swayed masses. (And Roger Ebert thinks *he* has it made!)

  • Rape is the best way to a willful and self-destructive woman's heart.

  • A challenge to one's artistic integrity is best countered with lots of high explosives.

  • (SPOILER ALERT) If treated to a tedious harangue about the importance of the individual, juries will tend to forget that this particular individual is on trial for dynamiting public buildings in a fit of pique.

Unless you're a rabid Ayn Rand fan -- or a confirmed masochist who gets a sick thrill out of watching great actors humiliate themselves -- stay far, far away from this rancid hunk of cinematic Limburger.
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Oil and Water
youbigbluemonkey25 May 2011
I fear that giving Ayn Rand full control over what was said on screen turned what might have been an interesting film into nothing more than an extension of her book. Now that might sound a good thing, but film and book are two different media that rarely sit comfortably with one another. Strangely it is this refusal to compromise, an important point in the book, that is this films biggest flaw.

While the acting is fine, aside from Coopers and Neal's in my opinion, the dialogue is stilted and stands out of place on screen, almost to the point of preaching rather than aiding the development of the story.

This might be simply a sign of the times, after all this was made in 1948, but this film stands out in my mind as perhaps the pinnacle of 'straight from the book to film' type of writing.

The film isn't subtle by any means, its point is pushed down your throat time and time again, the price of having your writer push an agenda.

It seems like every other line is a speech rather than a genuine conversation, with constant swings back and forth from over the top melodrama to meaningless contrite phrases.

As a book, without the aid of background music and the delivery of a host of different actors I'm sure this works fine, but as a film it just becomes noise with all meaning lost.
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One of the weirdest movies ever produced in the 1940s
El Cine9 May 2001
Not too many films can grab your attention with an atypical discussion of individualism, inspire you with a character's strength of will, disturb you with that same character's cold attitude towards humanity, and make you laugh at the script's stiffness and awkwardness at the same time. I don't really know how to approach my commentary on this strange film, so I will just list several of my observations.

--- I first learned of this film while watching a documentary on AMC about screenwriters' experiences in Hollywood. This film was chosen by the documentary as an example of what a screenplay shouldn't be! Indeed, the dialogue is melodramatic and positively stilted, since it is delivered by characters that exist primarily as vessels of philosophical thought, not real people that interact with each other. Does Dominique have any favorite hobbies, books, or radio programs? Or does she just sit around all day fretting about the inanity of the mindless masses, only taking a break now and then to throw a valuable statue out her window and onto some poor pedestrian's head because, as she says, she "loves" the statue? Gary Cooper even stuttered a lot of his lines like a robot, especially in that long-winded courtroom "climax". By the way, Cooper's character never seemed to be having fun except when he was getting fondled by Dominique or watching her trip and nearly kill herself while trying to run away from him.

--- At times, the film came close to acting as a successful examination of themes like resisting convention and finding one's internal independence and freedom, a la Chopin's "The Awakening." There are some provocative quotes that make good points on these issues. But the heavy dose of Randian anti-altruism that the script administers adds a pallor of mean-spiritedness and unlikeability to the characters and the screenwriter's points.

--- Rand apparently had a pessimistic view of humanity that was morbid and spiteful in the extreme. Are we to believe that all but a few people comprise an incitable, easy-manipulated, stupid mob of people? The scene where Wynand finds himself opposed by all 15 of his board members, all of whom are apparently spineless 'fraidy cats, typifies the exaggerated "It's everybody against one of me!" mentality that pervades the main characters' lives.

--- The direction was much better than I anticipated. And Robert Burks scored big with his cinematography. The modern black-and-white scenes must have provided him with lots of opportunities.

--- Zaniest quote (not word for word): Dominique is taken aback at how Gail Wynand bribed Peter Keating to break off his engagement with her. Wynand: Oh, people do this sort of thing all the time. They just don't talk about it.

--- Max Steiner's score is like Bernard Herrmann's score for "Marnie" --- it is pretty good and exciting to listen to on an album, but it is too emotional and high-strung for the screen. Oh, did anyone else notice how the piano player at the Enright Building's housewarming party was playing the movie's theme song?

--- Not enough attention was paid to the changes that the Gail Wynand character experienced. He went from strong amoral capitalist to redeemed supporter of the little guy to weak amoral capitalist in mere scene-changes!

--- How could Ellsworth Toohey, who is just a writer for a newspaper, manage to essentially take over the entire newspaper staff? How come Toohey never smiles or drops his scowl? And does he take some pride from the fact that he looks like and dresses like an evil John Quincy Adams with a mustache? Also, how does he have a hand in so many architecture projects? He's just a critic! Are we to believe that a cackling Roger Ebert hangs around the film studios in Hollywood and wields sinister influence over the producers and the films that they make?
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The Egohead
j-lacerra27 June 2009
Warning: Spoilers
It is hard to imagine that a movie starring Gary Cooper, Pat Neal, and Raymond Massey could be this bad. But, somehow King Vidor and Ayn Rand achieve this dubious distinction with The Fountainhead. From its dreadful dialog to its overblown set decoration to its overwrought score, this picture is a turkey.

The story of Howard Roark, architect, is presented showing a man with an ego the size of his largest building. He is not a pleasant or likable character. He is in a weird romance with the very strange Domenique, played by Neal as an irritating fruitcake of a female with a irresolvable inner conflict that the audience surely could not relate to, then or now. The chemistry between Cooper's character and Neal's is not just nonexistent, it is repellent. Massey does a little better as a powerful man who eventually is shown the limits of that power.

We are told of Roark's great talent, but are shown samples of his work that are wretched unbalanced monoliths, ludicrous while at the same time asking us to agree that they are masterpieces. We are told that the stuffy and self-important architectural critic of a newspaper has an ardent following among the common people, a very long stretch indeed.

Gary Cooper was sorely miscast in a role of a much younger man, a man of iron will and granite ego. The role might have been suited to a young Charlton Heston or Gregory Peck. Cooper walks through the role, that he clearly does not understand or sympathize with, like a zombie. His speech at the courtroom scene is delivered with all the aplomb and effervescence of a flat beer.

In every scene, the dialog is stilted and unrealistic; no one speaks like that, nor did they ever. In every interior scene the set is a huge spartan room with unreal spatial expanses.

And, unfortunately, the tale itself is boring and overwrought. It fails to redeem itself at any point. I can't recommend this overcooked turkey for viewing under any circumstances.
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Too unique to dismiss
Brian W. Fairbanks28 March 1999
Gary Cooper is much too mature for the role of the idealistic architect, but everyone else in the cast is fine. Cooper and Patricia Neal were supposedly involved in a passionate off-camera romance at the time, and some fans of this movie insist they can detect the sparks on-screen, too. I don't, but then I find Cooper such a bore as an actor that it's hard to tell if he's breathing, let alone excited. His performance here almost ruins what could have been a brilliant adaptation of Ayn Rand's ambitious novel. Howard Roark, the architect who refuses to conform to another man's ideals (or lack of them), does not strike me as an "Aw' shucks" kind of guy, but that's pretty much the way Cooper plays him. Roark will build anything--a public housing project, a townhouse, even a gas station--as long as it's built according to his vision. He will not compromise. Cooper just doesn't possess the fire that this character requires. When he becomes impassioned ("A man who works for the sake of others is a slave"), you can almost see the cue cards reflecting in his eyes. Certainly, he doesn't feel Rand's words in his gut. On the plus side, King Vidor's visual style is imaginative, and despite a lot of pompous sermonizing and Cooper's miscasting, this is a worthwhile film simply because there are so few Hollywood productions that emphasize ideas and a man's philosophy. In a curious way, it brings to mind "Network," and other Paddy Chayefsky films.
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King Vidor Does the Impossible with Ayn Rand's Help
mstomaso12 August 2008
Veteran director King Vidor was assigned the impossible project by Warner Brothers - Make a film out of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead. Broadly supported by actors and other subversive elements in the film industry, The Fountainhead is sort of a grandfather to the well-budgeted, big-studio supported "Independant" film so often made today. Gary Cooper, who was close to the pinnacle of his career at the time, all but volunteered to play Howard Roark after reading Rand's novel. Rand herself wrote the screenplay, and offered the same deal Roark so often repeated in the film - "It's my way or the highway".

Remarkably, Vidor managed to hybridize Rand's intensely philosophical and political dialogical essay (in the guise of a novel) with his own superb visual skill, and came up with a movie which, though it has its problems, remains interesting, entertaining and relevant.

Like Rand's novel, the film is about the noble struggle of the individual against society - and amounts to a socratic dialog between several intensely powerful intellects: Visionary modern architect Howard Roark (Cooper); erstwhile defeatist social critic Domenique (Neal); Contemptuous nihilist Wynand (Massey) and brilliant sociopath Toohey (Douglas). Although the film, like the book, contains a lot of overblown soliloquies and philosophical prose which places components of the story fairly far from reality, Vidor's visual style and uncompromising directing made the film work.

Howard Roark is a modernist amidst an increasingly collectivist neo-classicist society. Roark will compromise nothing of his own integrity, and will not lie, compromise or entertain any notions about doing anything for the common good. He is an embodiment of Rand's individualist-capitalist political philosophy, and eventually inspires even those who defy him to question themselves. But what will Roark have to sacrifice to fulfill his calling? And will he be able to do so despite his uncompromising approach to life?

Although many have derided Cooper's performance and have stated that he was miscast,I do not really agree. Cooper himself was disappointed in the lengthy soliloquy he delivered near the end of the film, and it is clear that he was not given enough time to make this scene as good as it could have been. By the standards of the time, a one-day shoot for a scene like this must have seemed like an eternity. However, today, I would not be surprised if a contemporary director would give an actor of Cooper's ability and stature several days and multiple cuts. Roark is a man of deeds, not words, and Cooper's unassuming, almost humble, matter-of-fact approach to the character is a surprising and consistent take on Rand's great protagonist. Nevertheless, Cooper is, in terms of acting, the weakest member of the principal cast. Neal is excellent, and Massey and Douglas are both unforgettable in their support roles.

Recommendation: Great fun for Rand fans, and those who enjoy politically and philosophically charged dialog. Not recommended for art-film fans as anything but an historic curiosity. Not recommended for fans of action films.
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The best they could do with a difficult book
preppy-33 October 2006
Movie based on Ayn Rand's book. Idealistic architect Howard Roark (Gary Cooper) won't compromise his designs for society. He also falls for beautiful Dominique Francon (Patricia Neal).

Now the original novel is brilliant...but over 1,000 pages and quite dense. The studio (wisely) got Rand to write the screenplay for this--I suspect a studio writer would have ruined it. She manages to cut down the book and get her message across perfectly. The movie is also well-directed--full of incredible sets and designs. It has a pounding lush score and some truly hysterical sexual imagery involving Cooper and Neal.

The acting though is another story. Neal is fantastic--the perfect choice for Dominique--sexy, smart and strong. Raymond Massey is also good as Gail Wynand. Unfortunately Gary Cooper is terrible as Roark. He was hand-picked by Rand to play the role--but I think she picked him because she was attracted to him. He's wooden all through the movie and his unsure line readings are pretty painful. (Purportedly he didn't understand the script--it shows). Still, the movie survives despite him. I can truthfully only give it a 9--with a better actor I might give this a 10.

Be warned--this is not an easy movie. It's all talk, runs almost 2 hours and deals with idealism and values. Some people will be bored silly by this but I find it fascinating. Recommended.
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The novel had a better conclusion.
theowinthrop30 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Unless one really digs Ayn Rand's philosophical theories, THE FOUNTAINHEAD will leave you pretty cold. Yet the film has it's fascinations. Cooper, Massey, and Neal manage to make their ridiculous dialog sound meaningful (particularly Cooper's courtroom defense). King Vidor was able to have some fun with the sexual symbolism of skyscrapers and Neal's yearning for Cooper (a real yearning as it turned out - as they began a long love affair while on the movie).

But to me the most interesting fascination is that of the character of the chief villain in the story, Ellsworth Tooey (Robert Douglas). Douglas normally played (in the words of the novelist George MacDonald Fraser) one of those villains with the "sibilant" esses in their speech (like Henry Daniel, George Macready, Basil Rathbone), who usually played costume parts. Douglas was Sir Christopher Hatton in THE VIRGIN QUEEN, and the Duke of Lorca in Errol Flynn's DON JUAN. His characters are always plotting or carrying out some political double cross. Here, he is out of his normal background. It's modern times, and he is the critic (on Raymond Massey's newspaper) on architecture. But he is on costume even here - usually wearing tales and a top hat. How such a ridiculously dressed character would imagine he'd be taken seriously by the world is beyond me.

Most people really don't care about architecture, unless they are going to be affected by a building they will live in or work in. They rarely read books about it, or newspaper columns about it. Yet Tooey (we are told) has great influence, and uses it to hurt the public. He boasts to his friends that he favors anything that will give the common man ugly looking housing and business structures. Just how come he gets his jollies from this is never explained - sheer cussedness I guess.

But given his appearance (like former Governor Dewey of New York, he looks like the groom on top of a wedding cake) how can he be seriously taken by that public? If he dressed like a common worker he might have a chance, but in the garb he wears everyone would suspect him.

In the film he succeeds in manipulating his acolytes and allies into most of the important departments of the newspaper owned by Massey, so that he basically takes it away from Massey, who kills himself when he realizes his dreams of guiding public opinion are sand castles in the wind. That is not quite how the novel ends - in fact the novel deals with Tooey in a far more effective manner than the movie did. When the movie last sees Tooey he is in court listening in anger to Roark's courageous (or long-winded, depending on your view) defense of the artist's right to control his vision. In the novel, there is a follow up to Tooey's apparently successful coup at the newspaper.

In the novel, a day or so after Tooey has demonstrated his control of the newspaper's staff and policies to Gail Wynand (Massey), he comes back "in triumph" to resume his control of the paper. He is told to report to his desk, which is on the top floor (where Wynand's office is). As he enters the building, Tooey notices how few people seem to be around, but goes upstairs. A secretary ushers him into the office, and he finds his desk there - opposite Wynand's. This pleases him to some extent (it is symbolically showing he is equal to the publisher). Wynand is busy with some paperwork at his desk, and looks up and nods at Tooey, and then resumes his paperwork. Tooey walks to his desk and sits down. He starts readying his desk for work, but is amazed to find nothing on the desk to look at or deal with. He waits. He taps the desk. He looks around the room and out the window at the nice view.

It begins to bother him - this absolute silence from Wynand. Why no comments? He considers the situation, and realizes that the publisher has just been humiliated and trounced by him, so that may explain it. Tooey starts speaking to Wynand, and explains that although what happened was...perhaps somewhat high-handed and humiliating to Wynand, actually Tooey is a human being and they can probably get along very well. Wynand looks up, doesn't say a word, and resumes his paperwork.

It slowly begins driving Tooey mad. Why is he here if there is nothing to do but watch Wynand? Didn't the paper tiger publisher learn his lesson the other day? And where is everyone else?

Suddenly the clock strikes noon. Wynand looks up, and puts his papers into his attaché case. He gets up from behind his desk. He then tells Tooey:

1) as of this moment the newspaper ceases to exist. It is being closed down. The staff has been paid off, and the various company properties are being sold.

2). Tooey will find a check for the balance of his contractual salary for the time left on the contract. As for his future, Wynand does not care what he does, but he won't get any reference from him.

Tooey pops up one last time just before the novel ends. He has found another job, but he has to start at the bottom again (he won't be headlining any column like he did on Wynand's newspaper). While he is politely listened to by others at his new job, his reputation is not great because his allies at his last job all lost their jobs.

Somehow that was a more satisfactory conclusion to the novel than what is in the film. I wish they had used it - it might have made the movie more amusing.
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Boy does Ayn Rand like to hear herself talk. If silent movies could talk, this is how they would have sounded.
Damien V.9 September 2005
One of the biggest mistakes in film history was allowing Ayn Rand to write the screenplay adaptation for her own novel. Boy does she like to hear herself talk or what? There is not one line of dialogue in this film that isn't overly dramatic and patently didactic. Rand does for dialogue what Norma Desmond does for mannerisms, except in the case of Norma Desmond there's an excuse -- she's nuts. Rand as a screenwriter just comes off as an egomaniac and she proves it with every over-stretched word. Even Hamlet would have told her to shut up.

Rand somehow manages to make Gary Cooper and Patricia Neil totally unlikeable in their respective roles. The whole thing is a handbook for art-deco dialogue as a dying language. Okay, Howard won't compromise his art and Dominique is a tortured chick -- we get it already, lady. Massey's newspaper mogul character, on the other hand, is great and he plays with the fecund dialogue like a little boy plays with a puppy. Too bad he's in the wrong movie.

I now have a new nightmare. I'm dead and I run into Ayn Rand at a celestial cocktail party. She corners me in a conversation and, oh my god, she sounds just like this movie.

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Amazingly bad movie by very talented people
metaphor-29 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
It's not surprising that Warner Bros was tempted by a big best-seller, but it's amazing that a bunch of film professionals like WB, King Vidor et al ever let this screenplay get filmed as it was written. Ayn Rand had obviously never been to a movie, or had complete contempt for movies and their audiences, because she had no concept of what dialogue does in a drama, or what it needs to sound like to be effective. She thinks that descriptive prose can be shoved into actors' mouths and that makes it dialogue. This is probably one of the most literate screenplays of the 40's, but it is incredibly awful nonetheless.

It is a testament to Gary Cooper's great abilities as an actor that he actually manages to make this stuff sound like a human being might speak it. None of the other actors achieves this feat, although Patricia Neal sporadically approaches it. If you focus on Cooper, you might be seduced into thinking this is a movie. If you listen to the other characters, you realize that it's a diatribe being read - rather stiltedly in most cases - by some fairly talented but hopelessly overwhelmed actors.

Ayn Rand's celebration of the ego reaches a zenith in writing the screenplay from her own book. The screenplay also demonstrates the big hole in her argument: just because you've got an ego doesn't mean you've got talent. Like the architect Roark, she wanted to keep possession of her ideas. So she designed the script from her novel. Unlike Roark, she was able to see that the ideas were expressed her way. In doing so, she destroyed whatever value this movie might have had in more competent hands.
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The Rise of the Individual
aramrc19 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The Fountainhead sets off by means of a powerful question: 'Do you wanna stand alone against the whole world?'. This may seem an unusual statement to start a film, yet from that moment on the viewer will witness the path of a man who attempts to precisely do so: striving against the whole world.

King Vidor's film introduces us to an innovative and talented architect, Howard Roark (Gary Cooper), whose artistic conception does not suit the public's taste and who has to face different forces that push him to conform to the conventions of his society. After an unsuccessful beginning in the profession, Roark is hired to design his first big project, but the influential newspaper The Banner, directed by Gail Wynand (Raymond Massey), carries out an aggressive campaign in order to discredit the architect. Only backed up by his ideals and integrity, Roark will struggle to carry on with his career.

As this plot line manifests, The Fountainhead explores an ancient debate – that of the individual vs. society – and its emphasis is overtly on defending the aspirations of the first over the expectations of the second. Thus, the film offers a pessimistic portrait of society – controlled by the powerful and the media and having no mindset of its own – that is fairly down-to-earth. He who does not conform is seen as a danger, not only because he cannot be subdued, but also because he may be an agent of change, and consequently, those who are in power try to erase one's individuality. However, the resolution of the conflict that The Fountainhead offers is not very plausible and it makes the film lose some of its strength. As the story goes on, the viewer follows Roark and is touched by the desolation of the atmosphere created, feeling its lack of oxygen, yet at the end this anxiety is dissipated, so the impact of the film on the audience is reduced. From my point of view, an ending that had left aside poetic justice would have been more effective.

Be that as it may, it can be considered that all the elements of The Fountainhead serve the purpose of conveying the message of the work: the individual is above society. Therefore, the film does not display a lot of camera artifice – it is dominated by two-shots, which let the audience focus on the characters' words and actions, and camera movement is limited and not evident – so that the viewer is not distracted by it, but it is visually beautiful and presents a good work of photography. The narration seeks the viewer's identification with Roark from the very beginning and the dialogues have a special force that impacts the audience, even if they seem unnatural sometimes, especially when the film deals with love. On the other hand, characterization is perhaps the weakest aspect of the work, since it is not very well developed and this may be caused by the fact that the emphasis of the film is on ideas and not on creating complex characters, for they are subordinated to conveying a message.

One may like The Fountainhead or not. One may consider that it is not perfect, that there are better ways of conceiving and creating films. Yet the fact that King Vidor's work has a power that makes an impression on the viewer, a power that attracts or disconcerts him (or maybe both), cannot be denied. And that is also what a film should do.

Arantza Medel Ruiz-Carrillo.
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Grand and Thoughtful Presentation of Ayn Rand's Views
wegekd20 March 2007
One of my very favorite films.

I found this movie to be one of the great standouts among the typical, predictable, formulaic films that typified this era. It is a truly thoughtful film and presents the idea of individualism in its barest sense, for both individualists and non-individualists to consider as the base for their analysis. This is the direct benefit of having Ayn Rand write the screenplay.

The acting was superb for the intended purpose, most especially that of Gary Cooper. The characters are hard and sharp. This was certainly not an accident or oversight in the screenplay as the purpose of the film as to define a philosophy, not to entertain the simple with the typical middle-of-the-road.

The black and white cinematography was wonderfully done. The acting, again, was perfectly suited for the intended purpose. The depiction of Ayn Rand's philosophy was beautiful.

You don't have to agree with Ayn Rand to appreciate this film. You only have to wonder what her philosophy was. The Fountainhead is the answer to that question and a great movie in it's own right.
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The house was a temple to his wife ...
didi-59 July 2004
This overheated potboiler attempts to make a social comment on the corrupt nature of conforming to the wishes of the masses, when its most interesting aspect these days is the teaming on screen (and off) of gruff-voiced Patricia Neal and her self-confessed 'love of her life', Gary Cooper. Their love scenes together are certainly not lukewarm!

Aside from this, there's a convoluted plot about architecture, the newspaper business, and the understated power of the humble columnist. Raymond Massey moves from one situation to the next with the same lack of passion, eventually giving Cooper and Neal their chance to simmer in close proximity. Robert Douglas is terrific as the obnoxious architectural critic, Ellsworth Toohey; while Kent Smith and Henry Hull put in OK performances as a weak architect of little originality, and a nervous press room editor, respectively.

The ones who catch the eye of the viewer, however, are Neal and Cooper. Towering performances in camp classic style. The imagery, too, is suitably suggestive – drills in a stone quarry, large skyscraping buildings, whips and pokers.

'The Fountainhead', adapted by Ayn Rand from her own novel and brought to the screen under the direction of King Vidor, is enjoyable despite the odd bout of overacting from both its principal and minor actors, and a truly silly script on occasion. The movie isn't great but in using the world in which it is set as a character of equivalent power to anyone on the screen, it sets itself apart as more than just run-of-the-mill.
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Score not by Franz Waxman
Mthebassplayer27 February 2011
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.
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Would be repulsive if it wasn't so funny
fleapit_fred14 May 2003
Gosh, but this film doesn't half bring out the rugged individualists on IMDB! Melancholy as it is to see that anyone believes the White Russian sociopath Ayn Rand was any kind of philosopher (she simply dressed up good, old-fashioned greed and misanthropy in two-dollar words), it is still sadder to learn from a couple of other contributors that her work features in American college philosophy courses. Alas for American further education...

However, one can't be angry for long at Miss Rand, or her hysterical contempt for the human race - her hero is a man who blows up a big apartment building without a thought for anyone it might fall on top of - when the film that expresses it is such an outrageous camp classic. Lord only knows what the folks in Peoria thought when, expecting a spot of manly action entertainment and rough, gruff romance with strong and usually silent hero Gary Cooper, they were required instead to sit through a couple of hours of high-flown speeches about Great Men and Free Spirits and all the rest of it, delivered by characters who talked exactly like a book (and a bad one at that). As for the stars, they perform this guff as though the script were in a foreign language and they'd learned their lines phonetically. Patricia Neal in particular looks and sounds throughout like a highly strung greyhound who's been called upon, at short notice, to take an oral examination in post-grad mathematics.

I bet the folks in Peoria wished they'd gone to see an Esther Williams musical instead - which would, I suppose, be typical of the despised masses. But here's a thing: who on earth thought it would be smart business to turn a book full of contempt for the "mob" into a commercial studio film, which by definition needs the mob to come and pay to see it? Not even a Steven Segal picture dares insult the audience as openly as that.

Presumably it was some easily impressed, half-smart executive whose grasp on common sense was as firm as that of Ayn Rand, who (among other lunacies) not only believed in perpetual motion, but was hornswoggled out of a lot of money by rugged-individualist con artists who convinced her they'd invented it. As every good con man knows, there's no more delightful sight as that of a hard-headed, unsentimental business type when you've got a consignment of gold bricks to unload.

The pity is that, as with most camp classics, it's impossible to convey how funny it is without lengthy quotation (or getting your friends to help you act it out - you've never lived until you've taken part in a Mommie Dearest party), and life's too short for me to watch The Fountainhead again with a notebook. But do try to see it once, if only to be reminded that the most pathetic people in the world are those who believe in their own superiority, and that the funniest people in the world are those who have no sense of the ridiculous.
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A classic! One of Cooper's and Neal's finest films!
verna5528 September 2000
This film doesn't always get the attention it deserves, but this sticks in my mind as one of Hollywood's greatest films of the 1940's. Based on Ayn Rand's popular novel, THE FOUNTAINHEAD unites two of Hollywood's most legendary stars, Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal doing some of their finest work ever. Though many people who have seen this film claim that Cooper was miscast, he still gives a memorable performance and makes a strong impression. Cooper plays a gifted architect whose fierce individualism nearly ruins his career. Patricia Neal is an equally headstrong critic whose interest in Cooper goes beyond his work. Neal is a perfect match for the tough, will-of-iron Cooper. In fact, the chemistry between these two is amazing. Though their intimate moments are fairly tame by today's standards, Cooper and Neal ignite fire in their love-making scenes. It's not surprising that their on-screen romance carried over into real life. My favorite scene is where an infuriated Neal rides up on horseback and thrashes her whip across Cooper's face when he rejects her not-so subtle invitation up to her bedroom. This scene could have easily turned campy, but King Vidor is such a skilled director, and Cooper and Neal are such distinguished and professional actors that the scene comes off in a rather smooth and serious fashion.
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Worst dialogue ever?
vaneyck20 January 2005
This movie gets my vote for the most unbelievable dialogue ever in an A-list Hollywood movie. From the opening words, spoken by an architecture-school dean (or rather, a cardboard caricature of a dean), there is not one sentence that could ever be delivered in real life. The whole movie is as schematic and unreal as the old Red agitprop plays. Appropriate, in a way, since Ayn Rand, too, was a propagandist for ideas rather than a real novelist or screenwriter. And what ideas! Individualism is crushed in America, but the idealistic architect will fight to produce--second-hand Mies! This individualistic architect is fighting to get buildings made that were exactly the kind corporate America was building after the war. He is shown as fighting against the old Beaux-Arts style at a time it had been dead for decades, and championing a style that had been in vogue for years.

Maybe the drawings can't be blamed on Ayn Rand, but the ludicrous dialogue can. Poor Gary Cooper. I see he gets blamed in other posts for not acting the part well. Next time you see this movie I suggest you try saying to yourself any one of his speeches in a believable way. She must have had an ironclad contract not to have been replaced by a Hollywood hack. Maybe a hack could have made a decent movie of this dog, but I doubt it.
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Strange adaptation of the best-selling book
blanche-219 September 2007
Ayn Rand adapted her own famous novel, "The Fountainhead," for the screen. Filmed in 1949, the outcome is odd, to say the least, but it has its interesting moments. "The Fountainhead" concerns an architect, Howard Roark, who, despite controversy, sticks to his designs without altering them to please anyone. Because of this, he becomes the brunt of a hate campaign by a tabloid newspaper, The Banner.

It's obvious from some of the comments on this board that many people are unfamiliar with the book. Unfortunately, the way the book was adapted, if you don't know it, I'm not even sure you can follow what goes on. The buildings, Roark, Dominque, Wyand et al. are all symbols - the buildings are what man can achieve, Roark is the selfish artist whose work has integrity, playing into one of Rand's main philosophies - man has a right to live for his own sake, without altruism, without bowing to the masses. Wyand is the brainwasher who cares about power; his architecture columnist believes in suppressing genius, as it is threatening - etc. Rand's novel itself is extremely prophetic (the tabloid inferences and the rise of mediocrity being just two examples) and therefore is timely today. It just didn't transfer well onto the screen. Symbols don't. There was too much material cut, and the screenplay was adapted, seemingly, with the supposition that everyone knew the book. On top of that, many of the scenes look almost fake from the use of a lot of process shots, giving the movie a bizarre sensibility.

Patricia Neal is astonishingly stunning and wears gorgeous fashions as Dominique, the sexually repressed turned sexually charged woman who gets turned on by Howard and his work. When I first read "The Fountainhead," I kept picturing Dominique as Faye Dunaway, and with her cold beauty, Neal is certainly the '50s Dominique. Raymond Massey is excellent as Gale Wyand, the Rupert Murdock character, and Kent Smith does a good job as a weasel architect friend of Howard's.

Now we come to Howard himself, Gary Cooper. Ayn Rand was one of Cooper's biggest fans from the time she emigrated from Russia and worked in Hollywood as an extra. She was of course thrilled beyond belief when he agreed to play Howard. There is a photograph of the short Rand gazing up at the chiseled, handsome Cooper, and she's practically drooling. After Rand worked - I can't remember if it was months or years - on Howard's big speech in the courtroom, Cooper told her after he finished filming it that he never understood the speech. I'm fairly certain he didn't understand the rest of the role either and that he had never read the book. A more glorious-looking, charismatic man to play Howard you couldn't have found, but did he understand this role the way he understood Lou Gehrig? I doubt it. Did Rand, for all her artistic integrity care? I doubt it. In the end, that great philosopher, that giant intellectual Ayn Rand was, in reality, a woman like any other.

If you must see "The Fountainhead," read the book first, which is fantastic. If you're not going to read it, I'd skip the movie, even though, like Rand and Neal, I love Gary Cooper.
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original and demanding
occupant-127 August 2001
Fades and splitscreens are clumsily done, but most other aspects of this film aren't too distracting. In producing the book and screenplay, Rand wound up laying the foundation for Objectivism, the viewpoint that occupied most of the rest of her life. Patricia Neal improved markedly as the shooting progressed. Cooper shines as the embattled hero. And Raymond Massey gives the performance of a lifetime as a divided man.

This movie is not a substitute for reading the book, but helps as an aid to understanding. Modern audiences, used to soundbites, may find the complex speeches in the book too difficult, although readers of another time wouldn't have flinched.
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Erectile dysfunction...
Merwyn Grote18 June 2004
A climatic moment in THE FOUNTAINHEAD comes when its hero, architect Howard Roark, (Gary Cooper) blows up a building. The one in question is a building he designed, but which is being built with changes that he did not approve. The building represents the world that Howard despises, a world that doesn't recognize his genius and dares to question his superior talents. Therefore, in his ego-contaminated mind, destroying the building isn't just a monumental temper tantrum, but a political statement, informing the world that it had better conform to his peculiar concept of individual freedom.

A few years back, THE FOUNTAINHEAD could have easily been shrugged off as a ludicrous display of knuckle-headed idiocy, pseudo-intellectual rants, mixing unbridled cynicism with delusional snobbery. However, in the wake of September 11, 2001, it is harder to take such a cavalier attitude. Howard blows up a building that represents all that he finds corrupt in an attempt to make the world bow to his philosophical superiority. How does that make him any different from the 19 hijackers and their puppeteers who attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon?

THE FOUNTAINHEAD is such a ridiculous movie that it is easy to laugh it off. With its pseudo-German expressionism look and its stylized, archly overwritten dialogue, it begs to be mocked as inconsequential camp. Like an elaborate joke, its cheesy Freudian symbolism and deadpan melodramatic performances would seem ripe for Carol Burnett and Harvey Korman to parody verbatim as one of the movie satires on her old TV show. If you could overlook the sobering reality that the film is based on a respected philosophy, then certainly THE FOUNTAINHEAD would be good for a few hearty chuckles and a couple of eye-rolling groans -- all at the expense of the poor actors trapped therein.

But THE FOUNTAINHEAD is a propaganda film, existing to illustrate the views of Ayn Rand, the author of the original book. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your point of view, the film is such an absurd mess that it is difficult to ascertain just what Rand's views are, this despite the fact that she penned the screenplay. Apparently, Rand believed in "objectivism," the notion that man as an individual is of supreme importance, but not in a Capraesque sense. It seems that to Rand a person should have but one goal in life and that is to satisfy one's self. God, mankind, country, friends and family are secondary and trivial concerns. Selfishness is the one truism and its own reward. If she had written IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, Old Man Potter would be the hero, not George Bailey.

Which brings us back to Coop and his little sticks of dynamite. In one of the most idiotic courtroom sequences this side of Woody Allen's BANANAS, Howard defends his act of urban terrorism with a confusing maze of self-righteous platitudes and smug displays of pious double talk. Delivered by a monotoned Cooper in a long-winded monologue, his defense is barely comprehensible, even after listening to his convoluted arguments repeatedly. He claims to be fighting for the right for man to exist, but "man" seems to be only "creators" like himself, as opposed to "parasites," which apparently would be just about everybody else on the face of the earth. He seems to be claiming the building as intellectual property, not real estate: He designed the building, therefore he owned it. Forget everybody else, from the investors to the laborers, they are all just parasites feeding off Roark's genius. Should one therefore assume that Rand believed that the actors, the director and all others involved in making this film were also mere parasites feeding off her genius?

Despite such convoluted logic and the overall incompetence of the film as a whole, there is something very scary about this entire enterprise. If Rand or anybody else wants to belch up lame scenarios about delusional, self-absorbed jerks, that is their literary license. But when she seriously argues that such delusions justify violent, unprovoked criminal acts, then her philosophy becomes renegade. As such, her hokey cinematic lecture, suddenly morphs into a disturbing manifesto for mayhem. All acts of terrorism, be it bombing abortion clinics or ROTC offices, begin with a seed of genuine righteousness. When that seed grows into armed violence, such philosophical self-righteousness is the first victim. Her Roark is not a heroic figure, a man of integrity fighting for his beliefs; he is a ruthless, arrogant megalomaniac. And if the buildings shown in the film are any indication, he is also one heck of a terrible architect.

Another disturbing element of the film is that it came out in 1949, on the heels of World War II. Throughout THE FOUNTAINHEAD, Roark and his lover/groupie, Dominique Francon (Patricia Neal), repeatedly refer to superior individuals whose genius makes them rise above "the mob" and above the law, and who should not be restricted by a common sense of morality. It is fascist drivel, not based on race or religion or ethnicity, but on the sheer arrogance of a supposed intellectualism devoid of any trace of humanity. Objectivism appears to be based less on rational thought than on simple-minded paranoia. It seems Rand sees everyone, from the ignorant masses to the power elite, conspiring to oppress the loyal few who kowtow to her ideals. She obviously hates communism, but worse she appears to hate democracy as well. It has a chilling similarity to the nationalism that propelled Hitler into power little over a decade prior. THE FOUNTAINHEAD, with straight-faced piousness, boldly defends its sociopathic ideology, praising not the genius of the individual, but the potential cruelty of the individual ego.
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On a lighter note...
bubba444-116 March 2003
All pretentious blather about the deeper meaning of Rand's writing aside....

This is a MUST SEE just for the expressions on Patricia Neal's face every time she lays eyes on Gary Cooper. Oh, her eyes bug out, she leans forward like she's about to leap off a building - it's priceless! I watched this with my 70 year old Mom recently, and we were both ROLLING! That poor Patricia Neal character, at one moment so calm and cynical, suddenly turns into a RABID, LUSTING BEAST!! TOO FUNNY!!!

So, all you smart, educated people, was Ms. Rand saying that women are ultimately just slaves to their erotic needs, unlike those men with all their self-determining sense of purpose? (I think I've entered an alternate universe here....)
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zardoz1229 February 2004
Warning: Spoilers
One of the major problems with "The Fountainhead" not mentioned by any of the IMdB reviewers is the time period the film is set in. The novel makes no bones about being set in the 1920s, but the film seems to be set in the `30s or `40s. I bring this up because the ultra-modern buildings protagonist Howard Roark designs would seem exotic before the Depression, but by the Thirties such structures were becoming accepted, and nowadays they are the rule. In the film, Roark's designs are not accepted because they aren't Classical in some sense. In any case, Roark's creations look like cartoons of Art Deco buildings, while the "Classical" buildings of his nebbish chum/antithesis Peter Keating are just photos of skyscrapers with classical facades pasted onto the ground floors. Another problem is Roark's character; the man is a sociopath with not even a tiny shred of empathy, yet he can design buildings that his clients dream about and which fit their locations perfectly. Rand's character could possibly survive as an engineer (a job Roark briefly holds in the novel), but no architect can work like that. One of the keystones of both the book and the film is that HR cannot compromise on designs either when they are blueprints or when they are under construction. My question is, what if Roark goofs? Would he tolerate a redesign if something in one of his buildings proved unfeasable? And what about people remodeling one of his buildings years after it was completed? Roark's model, the architect Frank L. Wright, often suffered design failures and pressured his clients never to remodel (namely because he also designed all the furnishings for his homes), so I can only suppose that Roark would rather let a building collapse than change his "perfect" plans.

Besides the impossible Roark, we are faced with the bizarre snob Ellsworth Toohey. Toohey is supposed to be the embodiment of evil, but he comes off on screen as a sneering Snidely Whiplash-like character whose attemps to drive Roark under look like cries for attention. Toohey is an architecture critic and intellectual public figure, but he loves mediocrity. Why we are never told, but probably because Rand equates mediocrity with socialism, and in the novel Toohey is a Red. Inbetween the two poles of Roark and Toohey are the aforementioned yob Peter Keating, Raymond Massey as proto-Rupert Murdoch Gail Wynand (and Toohey's boss), and Patricia Neal as Toohey's co-worker Dominique Francon. As you can tell, Rand loves giving the bad guys weird names, the good guys WASPy names, the love interests romance novel names, and the tools names that rhyme with bad schoolroom behavior. And you can tell what is going to happen to these characters from the outset, because despite its intellectual pretensions, "The Fountainhead" is just another noir film. Somebody will snitch, somebody will commit suicide, somebody will just dissapear from the procedings, and the protagonist will end up with the girl. I just wish that that noir film were "The Big Sleep" and not "The Fountainhead."
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You'll laugh, you'll cry...actually no. But you will laugh.
WoodrowTruesmith21 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers

Never have so many fine actors floundered in such a sea of shoddy pamphleteering. Which is not to say the movie's not entertaining - it is. It's just not very good.

This was Ayn Rand's final screenplay in her brief Hollywood career, which is a tragedy for connoisseurs of bad soap opera. It's tempting to blame director King Vidor for all the scenes where characters turn their backs on the hero to declaim their speeches to just left of the camera – a staple of daytime serials ever since – but the speeches themselves are so over-the-top that avoiding each other's eyes may have been the only way for actors to deliver them without cracking up.

Rand's scenes constantly begin with some character summoning the heroic architect Howard Roark to deliver a snide ultimatum, which he impassively rejects, at which point the Other Character turns on a dime and flings him/herself at his feet, metaphorically or (in the case of Patricia Neal's Dominique) literally.

Even when Roark is not around, people behave with bizarre inconsistency, as if different writers had been assigned successive scenes. Take Raymond Massey's Gail Wynand, whose sexually ambiguous name (spelled like Gail Russell rather than Gale Gordon) seems to explain his lack of passion for his wife and his devotion to Roark. Wynand is willing to ruin his paper rather than retract his backing for Roark...until his board of directors softly suggest that he back down. Whereupon he instantly turns on Roark, so viciously that suicide (after rehiring Roark) is his only possible atonement.

Wynand's wife-to-be Dominique is a particularly kinky customer, humiliating and abusing Roark until he satisfies her by (in oblique, Old Hollywood fashion) raping her. Dominique definitely goes Scarlett O'Hara one better in bringing rough sex to the forefront in movies, but her particular fetish forces her to go through the whole movie in a temper, until she surrenders to Roark's perfection and Finally Gets What She Needs. You buy the affair because of the palpable heat between the gorgeous Neal and Gary Cooper...not because of the loony dialog.

The minor characters behave as if the movie were set (or at least written) on Mars: Angry mobs boycott a paper and tear down newsstands, all to protest the firing of the reptilian architecture critic Toohey, who dresses like Clemenceau and proclaims a self-loathing version of Marxism that would have earned him a icepick from Stalin. How did this fruitcake get so popular with the Joe Sixpacks of 1949?

The hilarious thing about the film is that everyone on view accepts that its hero is a genius. Roark, a paper-thin conceit instead of a character, never doubts himself for an instant, which imparts even to Gary Cooper an aura of unbearable smugness.

So where is dramatic conflict to come from?

Well, from the embittered paranoia that pervades every other character in the story. Even Roark's admirers are convinced he's too brilliant to succeed, while the villains are determined to bring him down, not because they're Philistines, or because his designs look as cold and forbidding as Albert Speer's, but because they hate Genius. After two hours of Roark's tin-Jesus certainty, you start to sympathize with them.

Imagine a movie in which the antagonists are not motivated by different ideals or greed or lust or revenge...but because they hate the hero's Goodness...and you have some idea of the depth of the writing in The Fountainhead.

Robert Douglas, on vacation from his usual swashbuckler villainy, is excellent as the scheming Toohey. Ironically, with his gift for glittery-eyed resentment, Douglas might have been far more believable as Roark than the stiff, earnest Cooper...but this casting would have laid bare the hero's narcissism and rendered him unwatchable.

As it is, Cooper, that laconic cowboy American, is visibly flummoxed by delivering Roark's rant in the courtroom climax. He spouts Rand's rambling derision for the common man in a speech that he scarcely seems to if he knew it would have earned him a clip in the jaw from Capra's Mr. Deeds.
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Blown Up
tedg27 January 2007
I am hoping the viewing of this movie will end a week of viewing films with bad, even execrable philosophy. But I just couldn't avoid this. It was a big film and based on a best seller, an enormously good seller and an influential book.

For decades, it was the standard path for a college freshman to read this and imagine himself "different." Probably still the case in Texas. The ideas here are hardly original, but they are presented so boldly and with such panache that the author has spawned countless political religious movements in the US. Misguided kids thinking they were geniuses as measured by the degree of rejection by society began doing nothing but court rejection. Individuality as selfishness became a value, but the definition of what it means to be "individual" became so standardized that whole industries now sell goods to support you in your endeavor to be yourself, be different.

And that's true of film as well, how many of them now use commercial formulas to advise being different.

I suppose a case can be made for respecting greatness, and another for striving for genius. But this particular presentation is so bogus it undercuts these ideas at every turn. (Disclaimer: I am an architect.)

This movie chooses architecture, possibly the worst example. A writer or any artist would be better. A filmmaker even better because it is an expensive, collaborative endeavor.

But architecture is unique among all the clever things in the world. (These days architecture includes inventing conceptual spaces as well.)

This movie makes the mistake that architecture is somehow equivalent to sculpture, that what results are objects and not environments, that buildings are monuments and not experiences, that creativity somehow sticks to something once it is set free in the world.

It assumes that nothing the masses like can be true, that no observer (excepting a true love or a failed genius) can see greatness. But as I say, the definition of "individuality" is so unclever, so lacking in genius here, so predictable its laughable.

If you know the book, you'll guffaw at the writing, which is clearly by a nongenius, a non- special soul. You'll chafe at the way the "ideas" are sold, by wrapping them in a second rate bodice-ripping love tragedy that ends happily. Milk will come out of your nose when you see the designs displayed as genius, and individuality.

The one good thing that can be said of the book. It was written with a cinematic sensibility. That's why we have an architect. Architecture is cinematic, even on the page.

The girl who is won by the genius is pretty enough. Who would ever swallow these ideas and believe that a woman could be a prize?

Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
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Matthew23 December 2008
A crap film, rife with crap dialogue, scripted by a crap "philosopher" based on her crap Harlequin Romance. The entire project is utter disproof of the bloated, self-serving canon of the U.S. elite.

Its abominable dogma is the equivalent of that of a person who reached the terrible twos and continued to develop only in the realm of language skills, at the expense of empathy, lateral thought, sense of community or a simple notion of humility. That aside, my f--king god, how did ANYBODY speak these turgid, impossible, self-impressed-charlatan-penned lines and keep a straight face? Who green-lit them at Warners? Were there editors then? Was the superwoman's sacred ego such that it must be obeyed to the point of producing overwrought dreck to plague the rest of mankind?

If so, and it is so, case-in-point.

Turns out our übermenschen aren't as über as they think.
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