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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Warner Bros. approached Frank Lloyd Wright (who had been the inspiration for Ayn Rand's character, Howard Roark), and asked him to submit some architectural designs to be used in the film. However, the studio balked when Wright requested his usual fee of $250,000, and decided instead to leave the designs to the film's art director, Edward Carrere. See more »
When Roark is drilling rock in the quarry, he is doing so without any eye protection. See more »
[to Roark, regarding the Wynand Building]
Build it as a monument to that spirit which is yours - and could have been mine.
See more »
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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