“Do you want to stand alone against the whole world?”
A visionary young architect (Gary Cooper) refuses to compromise his artistic integrity at any cost.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Courtroom Drama
- Gary Cooper Films
- King Vidor Films
- Love Triangle
- Patricia Neal Films
- Raymond Massey Films
King Vidor’s adaptation of Ayn Rand’s bestselling novel is just as stilted as its source material. Rand wrote her own screenplay, and, like her central hero, refused to compromise the integrity of her philosophical vision; as a result, the characters are — as noted by DVD Savant — simply “walking ideas and arguments”, and the film itself comes across as “a presentation of a radical social philosophy using a soap opera format”. With that said, some believe there’s more to The Fountainhead than meets the eye; Savant himself refers to it as an “emotionally powerful piece of cinematic insanity, a movie that bears careful watching.” I’ve seen the film twice now, and must admit I find it difficult to take seriously — while it’s nothing if not sincere, it fails to involve viewers on anything more than a superficial level, and the didactic dialogue is an enormous distraction. Cooper’s infamous, lengthy courtroom speech in the final section of the film is frustrating rather than satisfying, given that his logic is hopelessly skewed:
Ultimately, it’s hard to root for this staunchly selfish man, who considers his own needs more important than everyone else’s.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Patricia Neal — stilted but undeniably beautiful in her first major film role
- Robert Burk’s stark cinematography
Yes, for its status as an over-the-top cult favorite.