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The Fountainhead (1948)

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I actually just watched the movie today and I have to say it was amazing (keep in mind I am a Classical Liberal and not an Objectivist). I have to wonder if many of you have seen ANY movies from this time period. The acting seemed very on par keeping the era in mind. It is not the style we are used to today but it was spectacular for when it came from.

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I"m not sure what is meant. Could be referring to the inauguration. Four days late though to match the title of the Rand play "Night Of January 16th".

Snaps, I forgot about that. I think my mind was thinking Bush would still be President for a few more years with Obama as the President-elect

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It was Barbara Stanwyck who persuaded Warner producer Henry Blanke to read The Fountainhead and open the door for getting the book made into a movie. An account of how the film got made, particularly in respect of its script, is given in Jeff Britting’s “Adapting The Fountainhead to Film” (2007).


Greene County Examiner-Recorder

Catskill, New York

July 21, 1949

Among the movie advertisements on page 8, was this one:

July 26, 27, 28








Patricia ~ Raymond


A Review (also p. 8)

Bringing to the screen one of the most absorbing and tempestuous stories of the past decade, Warner Bros. will present at the Community Tuesday their film version of “The Fountainhead,” adapted from the famed Ayn Rand novel which swept the country as a best-seller a few years ago.

Starring Gary Cooper as Roark, the architect, and Patricia Neal as Dominique, the picture has been eagerly awaited by motion picture fans who recognize the production as one of the most ambitious on the Warner Bros. schedule of the past year.

“The Fountainhead” is the thrilling story of a young architect who fights out against complacency and tradition in behalf of his own work in which he believes so strongly. This theme is set against a lush background of beautiful buildings and interiors, and the film, having been given Warner Bros.’ most lavish production treatment, promises something as pictorially thrilling as any picture of the year.

Gary Cooper has been cast in one of the strongest roles of his great film career. Opposite him, playing the brilliant and beautiful newspaperwoman is Pat Neal, the Broadway star who soared to screen stardom after her debut in “John Loves Mary” and is here given a brilliant dramatic opportunity to display her talents in the tumultuous romance of Roark and Dominique.

Also in the cast are Raymond Massey as the newspaper publisher, Robert Douglas, and Kent Smith. King Vidor directed the picture.

NYT Review

Box Office

I was unable to attend first-run showings of the film in 1949 as I was incapacitated on account of infancy.

Edited by Boydstun
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On a not completely unrelated topic:

Perhaps the best thing about TF movie is the comments section on Netflix:

"Based upon what was one of the 20th century's most popular books, The Fountainhead as film serves as the perfect illustration essentially of Ayn Rand's preferred method for defecating all over the Bible and everything for which its moral code stands. Delightful to watch as it was to read, and terrifically acted by Cooper (handpicked by Rand herself), this thrill ride will have you on the edge of your seat, explaining directly Rand's faults for you through--at times hilarious--over-identification with the capitalist fetish and its logically selfish conclusions. At work throughout Rand's praxis, especially so The Fountainhead, is a distinction between "prime movers" and "second handers," taking to extremes Kant's opposition between ethical autonomy and heteronomy. Those pathetic second handers are looking endlessly for recognition outside themselves, their self-confidence and assurance depending on the qualities others see in them, while the prime mover is fully reconciled with himself, relying on his own will and creativity, selfish in the sense that his satisfaction does not depend on the recognition from/of others or on sacrificing himself, his innermost drives, for the benefit of others. The prime mover is innocent, delivered from the fear of the other, and for that reason without hatred even for his worst enemies. Roark for instance, the "prime mover" in The Fountainhead, when asked by his opponent Toohey what he thinks of him, states simply that he doesn't."


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I have The Fountainhead in my DVD collection, and it is a convenient devise for discussion among the those unfamiliar with Ayn Rand and Objectivism. I happen to have a great fondness for films of this era. My opinion of this film is, of course, one of approval. However, the viewer ought to be familiar with this classic era of noir film, and it is noir fiction, (especially the suggested sexual violence, flogging, and the demise of Gail Wynand.) Raymond Massey was the only character perfectly cast for his part, although Patricia Neal was excellent. Gary Cooper was a bit too old for his part, (as was Jimmy Stewart for his parts in The Spirit of Saint Louis and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance), but that was typical of those days. (I would have loved to have seen Vincent Price cast as Toohey.) Rand was supposedly thrilled to have her big screen idol, Cooper, cast in the part; so Roark's age was one of those elements that deviated from the book. I can't expect to have friends read the whole book, although some have, at my urging. The critical points made through Roark's example were intact, and that makes it worth watching again, and sharing with a friend. The virtue of individualism is portrayed as Rand insisted it must be in the medium of film, which is an art form created collectively. It holds up much better than the current attempts to portray Atlas Shrugged on film.

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On 12/12/2006 at 4:47 AM, chicoflaco said:

How can a screenplay possibly cover such a lengthy tome as The Fountainhead?! Ayn Rand did cover all the "valuable" content -- what was missing for you then?

I totally disagree! One of the most inspiring things about this book was how it contrasted Peter Keating's early "success" with Howard Roark's struggles.  It was indeed Roark's early struggles that led him to the quarry in the first place.  In my opinion, that was quite an omission not to at least spend the first 20 minutes of this film to tell us how Roark wound up in the quarry in the first place.  Roark would overcome his struggles because of his individuality and strength of character and ultimately succeed.  Having read the book, which, for me was, for the greater part, greatly inspiring, then seeing the movie, this flaw became all the more apparent to me.  The movie was not lacking in good direction and some fine performances- with the exception of Gary Cooper, whose casting was a misstep (although Rand insisted upon casting Cooper).  Gary Cooper came off as wooden, for the most part.

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I liked Neal and Massey the best. But linked below is a scene in which Cooper as Roark is landing the book true (though he has the drawback of age). There is a Cooper scene I especially liked (no link) in which Roark says to Keating that men able to do something are his kind of man. Cooper seemed to really get that.


Neal and Massey



Neal and Cooper


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I see that Zack Snyder still thinks that the time is not right for making his film of The Fountainhead. He had deferred it a few years ago because he had been advised it would get a better reception during a Democratic administration (cf. bump in Rand book sales during the Obama years). But now he seems to think the political climate has become all-around hopeless. This man is in the business of making films that gross many millions of dollars.

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