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 <email@example.com>
Ayn Rand was furious that Roark's courtroom speech was edited down for time, and as a result refused to allow for a film adaptation of Atlas Shrugged during her lifetime. See more »
When Dominique is taking the construction elevator to the top of the skyscraper, the camera (as if from Dominique's perspective) zooms in slowly to the top of the building but there is no elevator shaft. See more »
Before you can do things for people, you must be the kind of man who can get things done. But to get things done, you must love the doing, not the people! Your own work, not any possible object of your charity. I'll be glad if men who need it find a better method of living in the house I built, but that's not the motive of my work, nor my reason, nor my reward! My reward, my purpose, my life, is the work itself - my work done my way! Nothing else matters to me!
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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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