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The Fountainhead (1949)

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


Airs Fri. Jan. 25, 6:00 PM on TCM

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)



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Feature adaptation of Ayn Rand's novel about a young architect battling for his own artistic integrity.

Director: Zack Snyder


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


No Man Takes What's Mine ! 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 »


Box Office


$2,375,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$2,179,000, 31 December 1949

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,906,000, 31 December 1949
See more on IMDbPro »

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?


Roark (Gary Cooper)'s courtroom speech was the longest in film history up until that time. See more »


When Wynand is in his office talking with Toohey (about 15 minutes in), the shot of the seated Wynand shows him looking at the bottom half of the front page of his newspaper. When the angle shifts to Toohey, Wynand is suddenly reading the top half of the front page. See more »


Howard Roark: 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!
See more »


Referenced in The Comix Scrutinizer: Armageddon #1 (2015) See more »

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User Reviews

Would be repulsive if it wasn't so funny
14 May 2003 | by fleapit_fredSee all my reviews

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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