The Fountainhead - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Fountainhead Reviews

Page 1 of 18
December 24, 2016
A fine adaptation of a very complex story. The screenplay was adapted by Ayn Rand from her novel of the same title.

This is no ordinary story. It is one of the 3 main novels in the trilogy of Ayn Rand's cult philosophy of Objectivism. The other 2 novels being "Atlas Shrugged" and "Anthem", which oddly never received a major Hollywood production despite their classic status. Perhaps it is because Rand's Objectivism is more extreme than Libertarianism, which are out of place in left wing Hollywood.

The film is well acted, perhaps overacted, by Gary Cooper, Patricia Neal and Raymond Massey. King Vidor directs. The story itself is driven by larger-than-life character, Howard Roark, is difficult to take realistically. The emphasis on architecture is also another plot device that seems unnatural in the present (and past) world. However, Rand is making a strong point in that a human should be fiercely independent and respected for being such. Any collective actions by liberals, unionists, and the weak should not be allowed to supress the greatness an individual may attain.

Ayn Rand's ultra-conservative, right-wing philosophy is typically celebrated by idealistic late teenagers and 20-somethings until it becomes watered down by the realities of the harsh world we all must face.
August 15, 2016
Like the concept, but the female actress was horrible and the love story part of it, could have been left out.
June 21, 2016
Still relevant, still asks "Who controls us? What drives us?"
Super Reviewer
½ February 13, 2016
Utterly ridiculous yet strangely compelling. The characters are caricatures of philosophical concepts to the point that the situations they find themselves in seem to be fabrications just to showcase their singularity. Consider the opening montage of scenes, where different people are attempting to make the ultra-individualist protagonist conform to public taste. They are so overdone that one cannot take the drama seriously. A character like Roark (Gary Cooper) is an unstoppable force of nature, an iron will - it cannot possibly be good material for a drama. What is compelling though is how secondary characters react to him and how they are magnetized to his personality like Wynand does (Massey). At least Wynand faces some internal struggles. I suppose Ayn Rand wants us to see Roark as an exemplar, but he is no realistic character and he lacks depth - he is not human in other words. He is her interpretation of the Overman. However, Nietzsche would be horrified by how Ayn Rand sees his philosophy of individualism and when she tries to link this philosophy to American values and capitalism (see Roark's monologue in the court), the whole endeavor seems ludicrous.
However, the strong direction by King Vidor matches the exuberance of the script and manages to create an interesting world full of tall buildings for the characters to dwell in. The beautiful cinematography helps too. No matter its failings, the film will make you think, although not neccessarily in the way Ayn Rand would like you to do.
½ January 15, 2016
I suppose it's impossible for me not to have a bias about this one way or another considering its source. King Vidor's direction is top notch as always. Art deco come to life. The acting is equally impressive. But the story is Ayn Rand's, and like all of her objectivist fairy tales it takes great pleasure in offering nothing, save for boring, two dimensional allegory and the character depth of a cheap romance novel.
December 26, 2015
I was too old (24) to be dazzled by the novel and much too old (late 30s) to enjoy the film as anything other than a camp period piece. I wondered why the dialogue was so awful until I read that Rand wrote the script herself and forbade anyone to change a word. Gary Cooper comes across as a cartoonish B-movie hero, all clenched jaw and tense muscles. Patricia Neal has the same B-movie presence as a Strong Woman. But then, Objectivism and Rand's writing style are silly stuff, so I probably should have expected a profoundly silly movie. I give it 2 stars for at least being amusing in a MST3000 sort of way.
August 31, 2015
another lost gdamn review flixter WTF r u doing with these
August 17, 2015
Batshit crazy. Interesting story, and I'm all for off-kilter ideologies being expressed through art, and the individuality vs commie stuff here is fine in itself. But this film is WEIRD. The characters are almost robotic, spouting philosophy more often than personal motivation to an extent this sometimes seems like pretentious (bad) sci-fi. There's far too little character based dialogue and far too much overbaked speechifying. Steiner's music is stupidly overpowering, as is the romantic melodrama, which sits uncomfortably with the ideological grandstanding - although the phallic stuff with the power drill is a riot. Certainly different, certainly not boring. Just very weird.
½ July 19, 2015
There is no place for originality in architecture.

Howard Roarke is an aspiring architect that is a visionary and has new and unique ideas on how to approach his work and will not deviate from his beliefs from anyone. Meanwhile, one of his best friends believes in getting rich and delivering vanilla quality material to meet demand. Howard falls on his face professional and is eventually penniless. He begins working in a quarry and ultimately meets a girl, falls in love, but leaves her to pick his profession back up once he has a little money stashed away. Will Roarke ever be successful and what will come of his former fling?

"Twenty years ago I would have punched you in the face with the greatest of pleasure."

King Vidor, director of War and Peace, The Crowd, Duel in the Sun, The Big Parade, Man without a Star, On our Merry Way, The Citadel, and The Texas Rangers, delivers The Fountainhead. The storyline for this picture is amazing (not as good as the book, but still entertaining). The acting is first rate and the cast includes Gary Cooper, Patricia Neal, Raymond Massey, Henry Hull, and Ray Collins.

"Haven't you ever loved someone?"
"No, and I don't intend to."

I read this book a long time ago then came across this movie on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) with Gary Cooper and knew I had to see it. Was this as good as the book? Of course not. Was it good? Absolutely. Howard Roarke is such a mesmerizing character that was so well written you just can't wait to see what happens next. I strongly recommend seeing this and reading the book (but not in that order).

"You're on your way into hell."

Grade: A-
½ June 21, 2015
Love it or hate it. I'd recommend this movie to every architect.
½ April 10, 2015
Cosas y momentos interesantes, pero demasiados absurdos y risibles wtf made in Ayn Rand...
½ March 15, 2015
Um arquiteto teimoso não quer aceitar pitaco nenhum de cliente em seus projetos. Primeiramente isso quase o leva a ruína, depois leva o a glória. O arquiteto se baseia num discurso de que o homem precisa ser individualista para inovar e que fazer o que outros querem é perder a integridade.
January 20, 2015
Melodrama y noir. King Vidor maneja escenas con fuerza y erotismo contenido, clà sico y original final.
½ December 7, 2014
Lead actor is strong. Contains some dated cinematic styles- I love you, fight you scene.
September 21, 2014
It's hard to root for such a selfish "hero".
September 14, 2014
El manantial [1949]
August 2, 2014
I saw this movie a few months ago it has an interesting storyline a little futuristic
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
July 20, 2014
I heard that this guy is a passionate architect, but he must really love his job if he built a fountain for his head. Man, that sounds stupidly surrealistic, but no, this isn't exactly what I was expecting from David Lynch's first film, although I don't guess you can ever predict what kind of film a three-year-old will make. Yeah, this is too old to be as trippy "Eraserhead", which is bogus, because you're going to need some audacity if you're going to be adapting an Ayn Rand novel. Granted, I haven't read any of her books, because, you know, contrary to what many may believe based on my watching so many blasted movies, I have a life to get to eventually, but she did know how to push the envelope further than they were capable of doing in Hollyweird, circa 1949. ...Mind you, she actually wrote this screenplay, but she went on to do the critically panned, yet oddly commercially triumphant "Atlas Shrugged", so maybe her dramatic competence was beginning to slip by the end of the '40s. Yeah, people, I think we can all agree on what is truly the most satisfying adaptation of Rand's "The Fountainhead": Rush's "2112" album. I don't exactly know how this novel relates to that album which Neil Peart says was largely inspired by Rand's works, or rather, "genius" (He must have found something better to do than read "Atlas Shrugged"), but I'll take it, because this film isn't exactly doing anything for me, though not for a lack of trying.

This film offers a good bit of style and a great deal of limitations, and heights in both go reflected within Robert Burks' cinematography, which both held back by and thrives on a black-and-white color palette, which falls over crisp definition and occasionally ingenious plays on lighting in order to establish an almost noirish flavor that is handsome, if not captivating throughout the drama. This visual style, in addition to such other artistic touches as nifty visuals, supplement the aesthetic value which is decidedly as impressive, if not more impressive than anything else in this narratively sloppy affair of respectable style. Of course, if inspiration stands so firm in directorial style, then King Vidor can go only so far with his shortcomings in directorial storytelling before hitting highlights, and sure enough, when Vidor hits, entertainment value is sustained, occasionally augmented by genuine dramatic tension. Make no mistake, much more often than not, Vidor falls flat, and about as often as he hits highlights, he just about embarrasses with his dated, if not outright incompetent missteps, yet the fact of the matter is that highlights stand, helping you in seeing the potential here. Although I have not read any of Ayn Rand's classic material, I don't suppose her dramatic competence was ever even close to the level of her thematic competence, for even in concept, this story is a hopelessly melodramatic affair whose sloppiness will be touched more upon later, and whose genuinely worthy aspects are very much worthy, in their establishing some biting histrionic intrigue, and plenty of intriguing themes regarding business' and society's interpretation of questionable innovation, and how innovators interpret the critical. While more limited than fans of the original, ostensibly non-cinematic like to think, potential stands, and it's hard to deny that when it comes in glimpses through commendable style and heights in substance. Still, on the whole, the final product is surprisingly mediocre, being a misguided take on a misguided story which isn't even sharp enough to be as thorough as it ought to be with its characterization.

Over-celebratory of its themes and shamelessly manufactured with its dramatics, this film needs more than just adequate flesh-out in order to thrive as a character study, and the characterization here, with its lack of immediate development and shortage on gradual exposition, simply isn't up to the task of getting you invested in contrived and thin characters. Nonetheless, as undercooked as the film is, it, at just shy of two hours, still has plenty of time to drag its feet, not just through cold spells in King Vidor's direction, but through meanderings in Ayn Rand's script, whose bloating in plot layering doesn't exactly gel with all of the aforementioned expository bumblings. Rand's over 700-page epic is adapted into a two-hour melodrama which is all over the place with its pacing and structure, with enough of the source material's dynamicity retained for the messy structuring to lead to some serious focal inconsistencies which make the final product almost exhaustingly convoluted. Still, there is something consistent throughout the storytelling, and that is conventions, because even though there is a potential for uniqueness, the execution of a promising story is so riddled with tropes that the final product stands as just plain trite, with nothing new, - despite its following themes of rejecting conformity to artistry - and most everything questionable about Hollywood formulas of this time. I don't know if it's simply the test of time doing a number on the filmmaking abilities of this drama, or sheer incompetence which modern critics disregard, but I'm just not comfortable with this film's very Hollywood lack of subtlety, which draws thin roles for too many of the performers - save decent leading man Gary Cooper - to portray questionably, and too many embarrassingly shoddy dialogue pieces and obvious visuals and set pieces for you to get past the contrivances which are even found in concept. Again, Rand's dramatic writing seems to have always been beneath her thematic writing, and this film reflects that through a layered, but startlingly melodramatic and occasionally unfocused plot that thematic value could make up for, and perhaps would have made up for if it wasn't for all of the incompetent miscalculations in structuring and subtlety which betray thematic value, and further stress the blandness and misguidance of this story, until the final product is barely ever truly engaging. Sure, there are compelling moments found here and there throughout the film, and there's enough of them for the final product to all but achieve a decency which is ultimately lost by utterly erroneous filmmaking that make the final product yet another misfire of an overrated classic.

Overall, handsome visual style and other attractive stylistic touches to direction which hits a few dramatic highlights to do a degree of justice to intriguing subject matter, thus, the final product borders on a decent state that is ultimately lost amidst the thin characterization, bland dragging, exhaustingly convoluted unevenness, genericisms, and dramatic incompetence which, behind a hopelessly melodramatic and overwrought story, make King Vidor's "The Fountainhead" a mediocre piece of dated, melodramatic filmmaking.

2.25/5 - Mediocre
July 11, 2014
A let down since the book was 8/5 stars but still a great film
Super Reviewer
½ May 24, 2014
A rather superficial film that does not convey the philosophy of Ayn Rand to the full extent. Ayn Rand is not destined to write screenplays. The Fountainhard is about an individualistic young architect named Howard Roark who refuses to conform to the collectivist world by going against the restriction from the society to achieve freedom and self actualization. Now Ayn Rand's book was so much in depth that cannot simply be adapted to a 2 hour film, there are so many important events and characters missing. Despite Rand allegedly admitted he enjoyed the film's adaptation, she criticized the film for acting, production design and editing. I have to admit I agree with her. Production design was really bugging me, I hated the set, it was not what I expected to see in my vision. The rooms of the offices were too big, characters felt uneasy moving abouts. Also the rooms seemed too modern to begin with (even though Wyland did like Roark's design but he did not know about it at first). But the quarry was improvement from my vision, I liked the solidity and sharpness of the rocks. The editing seemed superficial, it simply only focused on conveying the emotions and actions of the characters but not the underlying messages. E.g. the continuous shift between the characters in the courtroom when Roark was delivering his climatic speech. The acting was awful, not that the actors are horrible (I would never in a million years say Gary Cooper is a terrible actor) but they did not follow what I would expect to see the behaviours of the characters (Also Cooper was too old to play Roark and he was meant to be redheaded to show how different he is from others). I felt Rand made the script too general for the public instead of conducting her philosophy. However, I thought it was ambitious and a nice adaptation that stayed faithful to the novel.
Page 1 of 18