• Unrated, 1 hr. 54 min.
  • Drama, Classics
  • Directed By:
    King Vidor
    In Theaters:
    Jul 2, 1949 Wide
    On DVD:
    Nov 7, 2006
  • Criterion Collection

Opening

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62% Fading Gigolo Apr 18

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The Fountainhead Reviews

Page 1 of 17
Bob S

Super Reviewer

April 9, 2007
could really get one star, it's that overbaked
Pierluigi P

Super Reviewer

May 23, 2012
Although the message it carries is indeed powerful and still relevant, the execution seems to fall short, as cinema just can't get a hold on that much philosophy, therefore most characters look like stereotypes, they are all too smart and sensitive to be perceived as people we could identify with, this same issue affects King Vidor's direction, it feels a bit stagy. Nevertheless the script has great quoteable lines and the art direction and cinematography are impressive.
dietmountaindew
dietmountaindew

Super Reviewer

January 29, 2009
fountainhead the novel has tackled into the oppositional conflicts between individualism and collectivism through four characters: peter keating, the second-hander; ellsworth toohey, the crooked intellectual who patronizes collectivism for profits; gail wynand, the egoist who scrifices his own individuality for power; howard rourke, the man of men, the individualist who stands firm on his own ground, the sublime presentation of american modernism. ayn rand's literature has been degraded by some as propanganda since the characters in her novel could merely be representations of her philosophical notions in human forms, and all these together are etwined into an illustration of objectivist philosophy, an ayn rand utopia, which praises personal interests and the virture of selfishness, BUT the unique difference is rand's brand of individualism as well as selfishness is a responsible one, just like sartre's existentialism with an (russian-)american twist.

as i mentioned in the review of gone with the wind, david o salznik once noted that any social problem would be solved in the movie as long as it's blended with a romance, which aims to consummate. so is the case of fountainhead the movie, which is a vehicle to demonstrate the mighty magnitude of gary cooper's machismo. audience probably walks off the theater in a pleasant mood due to the sparkling chemistry between cooper and the divinely sultry particia neal. in the original novel, howard rourke was acquited because the jury doesn't believe anyone who ernestly has such faith in individual integrity could be sane, thus rourke is not mentally prepared to pay the consequence of blowing off a building. ha. quite an irony, right? is ayn rand intended to provoke anarchy?

beside the fact that fountainhead is a cinematic adaptation of tour de force by director king vidor, its failure to deliver its philosophical concepts just bares the limit of cinema as an apparatus to sharpen human wits, on the contrary, cinema could blunt the human wits due to its overt saturation of images (respresentation) and fluent narratology which aim to exhilarate your percpetive sentiments instead of triggering your mind into meditation. in the case of fountainhead, it simply becomes a sensual legend in the celebration of the potency of masculinity: it's about an architect who raises his chin up to cope with all the obstacles, and him alone against the world. at last, the phallic male is rewarded just like all the old-hollywood pieces. he succeeds and walks home with the most beautiful woman in the scene. seriously, would you probe the meaning of being an individual or american collectivism after viewing the movie?

does cinema make you think? even it does guide you into thinking, could it be more than an elaborate indulgence of avant-garde aesthetism or blind-fold you into identifying with an ideology by this compelling aesthetics?
Apeneck F

Super Reviewer

July 21, 2007
The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Ayn Rand's script based on her novel is not perfect by any means, nor is this film. But ... its point, its directness, its dynamic, its resonant impact is seldom seen and hard to ignore. A must see.
AJ V

Super Reviewer

September 5, 2010
A fantastic story about individuality in the industrial world, but the romance tries to steal the show. I liked it, but it would have been better if they could have balanced the drama and romance better.
jjnxn
jjnxn

Super Reviewer

March 23, 2008
Heavy handed psycho babble given the Hollywood treatment. Patricia Neal looks beautiful even though her acting here is often overwrought something that is rare for her, one of the great naturalistic actress. Cooper is adequate but he and Patricia Neal share very little on screen chemistry, odd since they had a torrid affair off screen that almost destoyed Cooper's marriage. Massey is terribly wooden which may have been a choice the actor made to show the constriction of the character but it's distracting. There is one really fine performance contained herein and that's Robert Douglas as the venal and amoral writer, he oozes slime whenever he's on screen. The film itself isn't bad but it does get mired in long talky patches.
Ken S

Super Reviewer

May 5, 2007
A Rand-ian call to arms!

Cooper is amazing (as usual) and the art direction is even better.
Michael G

Super Reviewer

January 25, 2007
I can't say exactly why I love this movie. The cinematography and set design are amazing. The philosophy'a also interesting. The hammy overacting and often extreme plot definitely help. But I think the "world" of this movie is great as is its dynamicism. Gary Cooper is great and as much as I liked Patricia Neal, I would've loved to seen Barbara Stanwyck in that role.
Anthony V

Super Reviewer

January 23, 2008
Not even half as good as the book, but has its moments.
August 17, 2012
There were moments of brilliance because of the content of the novel, but it was undermined by the rushed plot and Gary Cooper being his awkward self in struggling through lines. I thought that Patricia Neal stole the show with her melodrama.
August 27, 2012
Bracing, majestic adaptation of Ayn Rand's famous novel! Rand's famous (or infamous!) philosophy comes into play more towards the end. The rest of the film is high melodrama, but beautifully executed melodrama! The combination of Rand's script and Vidor's direction prove perfect. Max Steiner's magnificent score rings throughout, and Robert Burks cinematography is among the greatest in black and white film. This is the melodrama that "Citizen Kane" should have been!
April 25, 2010
Interesting overall concept, but NOBODY talks like these people in real life. NOBODY is this blunt and honest, so the lines were laughably horrid most of the time.
jes25924
September 8, 2008
If Ayn Rand had just written super hero comics, she might have been better accepted in general, or her characters might have found their more natural fit. Looking for real people in her writing is like looking for real people in Batman or Superman. A...(read more) ctually come to think of it, "The Fountainhead" may be closer to "The Watchmen", in reverse....

Anyway, it's not as good as the book, but it's a pretty decent summary. Rand wrote the screen-play herself...
rich17404
February 17, 2008
The book was better but Gary Cooper is so Gary Cooper cool in this movie and it is a great story based on the Ayn Rand novel.
February 12, 2008
This film is wonderfully bad. Actually it wouldn't have caught my attention hasn't Ayan Ran been the script write. Turns out to be quite similar to Soviet 1950s propaganda where a young man sacrifice himself for the greater good, except that this time the ideology is different. This super man following his ideal is totally ridiculous. But some scenes are just precious for instance when half naked, sweating and muscled Gary Cooper is stared at with lust by Patricia Neal while he is manipulating a jackhammer. Other than that it is really worth forgetting.
November 29, 2007
In terms of the movie itself, it was pretty good, but for me it was very hard to judge based only on the movie. I've read the book, and it is one of the greatest book ever written. The movie did a pretty good job of slaughtering the book though, which if you read the book and understand the story itself, i's very ironic. Ayn Rand wrote the book about Howard Rourke, an architect who allows no compromise in his work. He was made out to be the ultimate hero, the greatest of all men, the irony comes from the fact that Ayn Rand wrote the screenplay that was full of compromises. To begin with, basically the entire first half of the novel wasw thrown out the window, save a few, very few, key points. All contraversy was removed, save a single scene, which was severly watered down. Events occured obscenely out of order. Every character was severly weekend, especially that of Dominique. A plus was that the 2 most powerfull speeches of the book were left in, edited, by keeping ther effect. The biggest injustice of all was the abscence of cruelty, The Fountainhead is a very cruel book in so many ways, yet rightous in it's cruelty, it speaks the truth. The book is part of a foundation for an entire philosphical theory, the movie is little more than your typical B+W love story, not that I have any problem with those, but this was Ayn Rand betraying her own work, she sacrificed something graet for something average, those who know Ayn Rand know what an atrocity this is.
moviegirl50
June 30, 2007
Strange, riveting, tragic, & fullfilling. A little on the humanistic side, but I still found it to be an interesting film.
March 17, 2014
Not enough tomatoes to throw.
A mess.
Rand claims to be a conservative to whom the right to property is all important yet the destruction of property is justified based entirely on a matter of ego.
At the same time that she believes that anyone can do anything if its in their own interest and that empathy is weakness the wealthy guy is the villain and kills himself out of guilt!
Rand says she doesnt believe in guilt.
Go figure!
Stars should be taken away not given.
January 2, 2014
Now that I finished the book, I can see the movie...
October 13, 2013
Truly, one of the most idiotic, illogical, unintentionally funny "message" films ever made. Rotten Tomatoes managed to dig up enough bottom-tier critics to get this turkey an 83% rating. Ridiculous! Almost all of the major critics panned this turgid, preachy, loony adaptation of Ayn Rand's equally bad novel (which had itself already become a joke in the world of literature by the time this film was made). I suspect that those reviewers here who claim the film to be "better than the novel" never actually read the novel; rather, knowing in what low esteem the novel is held, they didn't want to appear illiterate, so described the film as superior to the book. In fact those reviewers (I prefer "reviewer" to "critic" when referring to some of the obscure, barely literate individuals RT features in the "Critic Reviews" section for The Fountainhead) are probably not highly literate, and had they read the novel would likely have been just as impressed as they were with the horrid film (because Ayn Rand herself wrote the screenplay!) If "Duel in the Sun" was Vidor's failed attempt at another "Gone With the Wind" "The Fountainhead" is his failed "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington". But where Capra's Mr. Smith has faith in the basic decency of the people, Rand and Vidor's Howard Roark despises the people. That's right, Howard Roark sees "the people" as a mindless mob of mediocrity. Yes, the audience viewing "The Fountainhead" is being told throughout the immense contempt Ayn Rand has for it. Instead of Mr. Smith passionately reminding us of the virtues of democracy, we get Howard Roark droning on about the virtue of total selfishness (not kidding) and the evils of altruism, in what seems like the longest speech ever. The film is a bizarre blend of repugnant ideology and soap opera level melodrama punctuated by embarrassingly obvious symbolism (mostly phallic in nature, representing Roark's rightful dominance in the "correct" social order as Ayn Rand imagines it). If you want to see a good King Vidor film, watch his silent film "The Crowd", which is a classic and which he made many years before getting mixed up with Ayn Rand's loony political ideology. "The Crowd" is filled with brilliant imagery, and since it's a silent, you won't have to listen to interminable lectures about the "virtue of selfishness" or inane dialogue such as "I don't give or ask for help!". Skip "The Fountainhead" and check out "The Crowd" instead, just to know that Vidor's work wasn't all terrible.
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