206 user 31 critic

The Fountainhead (1949)

Approved | | Drama, Romance | 2 July 1949 (USA)
2:17 | Trailer

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


King Vidor


Ayn Rand (screenplay), Ayn Rand (novel)
1,441 ( 9,707)





Complete credited cast:
Gary Cooper ... Howard Roark
Patricia Neal ... Dominique Francon
Raymond Massey ... Gail Wynand
Kent Smith ... Peter Keating
Robert Douglas ... Ellsworth M. Toohey
Henry Hull ... Henry Cameron
Ray Collins ... Roger Enright
Moroni Olsen ... Chairman
Jerome Cowan ... 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) See more »

Also Known As:

Le rebelle See more »

Filming Locations:

Fresno, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This film's earliest documented telecasts took place in Salt Lake City Friday 26 July 1956 on KUTV (Channel 2), in Tucson Saturday 4 August 1956 on KDWI (Channel 9), in Miami Sunday 2 September 1956 on WTVJ (Channel 4), and in Bellingham WA Sunday 16 September 1956 on KVOS (Channel 12); it first aired in Boston Sunday 14 October 1956 on WBZ (Channel 4), in Phoenix Thursday 25 October 1956 on KVAR (Channel 12), in San Francisco Friday 9 November 1956, cut to 72 minutes to fit a 90 minute time slot, on KRON (Channel 4), in both Cincinnati and Bloomington IN Saturday 10 November 1956 on WKRC (Channel 12) and on WTTV (Channel 4), in Los Angeles Sunday 11 November 1956 on KTLA (Channel 5), and in Portland OR Saturday 8 December 1956 on KOIN (Channel 6). See more »


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 »


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


Referenced in Bright Leaves (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

Score not by Franz Waxman
27 February 2011 | by MthebassplayerSee 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.

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