The Fountainhead

3.7 4
Director: King Vidor

Cast: Gary Cooper, Patricia Neal, Raymond Massey


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The hero of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead is Howard Roark (Gary Cooper), a fiercely independent architect obviously patterned after Frank Lloyd Wright. Rather than compromise his ideals, Roark takes menial work as a quarryman to finance his projects. He falls in love with heiress Dominique (Patricia Neal


The hero of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead is Howard Roark (Gary Cooper), a fiercely independent architect obviously patterned after Frank Lloyd Wright. Rather than compromise his ideals, Roark takes menial work as a quarryman to finance his projects. He falls in love with heiress Dominique (Patricia Neal), but ends the relationship when he has the opportunity to construct buildings according to his own wishes. Dominique marries a newspaper tycoon (Raymond Massey) who at first conducts a vitriolic campaign against the "radical" Roark, but eventually becomes his strongest supporter. Upon being given a public-housing contract on the proviso that his plans not be changed in any way, Roark is aghast to learn that his designs will be radically altered. Roark sneaks into the unfinished structure at night, makes certain no one else is around, and dynamites the project into oblivion. At his trial, Roark acts as his own defense, delivering an eloquent paean to individuality. He is acquitted, while the newspaper tycoon, upset that he could offer Roark no help during the trial, kills himself. This clears the way for a final clinch between Roark and Dominique on the skeleton of his latest building project. Ayn Rand's celebration of Objectivism didn't translate very well to film, with Gary Cooper coming off more selfish and petulant than anything else. The Fountainhead's saving graces are the solid direction by King Vidor, the rhapsodic musical score by Max Steiner, and the symbolism inherent in Cooper's manipulation of his power drill when he first lays eyes on Patricia Neal!

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Ayn Rand's adaptation of her own classic novel deconstructs numerous provocative and age-old societal opposites: integrity vs. conformity, the individual vs. the collective, selfishness vs. selflessness, power vs. weakness. The Fountainhead couches these in the deceptively fertile subject of architecture, and casts the unflappable Gary Cooper as the against-the-grain designer nearly Galilean in his trailblazing spirit, which comes across as either arrogantly bullheaded or defiantly courageous depending on one's analysis of the issues. Rand's plot is intricate and ever more evocative as it rolls forward, most notably in the person of the complex, flip-flopping newspaper editor (Raymond Massey), who embodies, at different times, both the spineless cowardice Howard Roark abhors and the heedless determination he prizes. Rand's talky philosophies, which dominate the film for better or worse, invite endless contemplation about what it means to be a trendsetter and to protect the purity of one's artistic endeavors, especially in a world eager to quash those who challenge the status quo. Amid this high-mindedness, the romantic relationship between Cooper and Patricia Neal feels overblown and inappropriately Harlequin, surely a concession to Hollywood expectations, which has a certain thematic irony of its own for Rand, if one considers the uncompromising architect her stand-in. Everything else in The Fountainhead is meaty with thematic import, solidified by the acting and King Vidor's directing, which earns kudos for keeping the audience glued to a nearly two-hour movie that's mostly dialogue.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Warner Home Video
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Special Features

New featurette The Making of the Fountainhead; Theatrical trailer; Languages: English, Français & Español (feature films only)

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Gary Cooper Howard Roark
Patricia Neal Dominique Francon
Raymond Massey Gail Wynand
Kent Smith Peter Keating
Henry Hull Henry Cameron
Robert Douglas Ellsworth M. Toohey
Ray Collins Roger Enright
Moroni Olsen Chairman
Jerome Cowan Alvah Scarret
Paul Harvey A Businessman
Harry Woods Superintendent
Paul Stanton The Dean
Bob Alden Newsboy
John Alvin Young Intellectual
Morris Ankrum Prosecutor
Louis Austin Woman Guest
Griff Barnett Judge
Gail Bonney Woman
Dorothy Christy Society Woman
Tristram Coffin Secretary
G. Pat Collins Foreman
Ann Doran Secretary
John Doucette Gus Webb
Roy Gordon Vice President
William Haade Worker
Creighton Hale Clerk
Jonathan Hale Guy Franchon
Thurston Hall Businessman
Selmar Jackson Official
Fred Kelsey Old Watchman
Douglas Kennedy Reporter
Philo McCullough Bailiff
Paul Newlan Policeman
Almira Sessions Housekeeper
George Sherwood Policeman
Ruthelma Stevens Secretary
Tito Vuolo Worker
Geraldine Wall Woman
Harlan Warde Young Man
Pierre Watkin Official
Josephine Whittell Hostess
Frank Wilcox Gordon Prescott
Isabel Withers Secretary

Technical Credits
King Vidor Director
Milo Anderson Costumes/Costume Designer
Henry Blanke Producer
Robert Burks Cinematographer
Edward Carrere Art Director
Edwin DuPar Special Effects
Oliver S. Garretson Sound/Sound Designer
John Holden Special Effects
H.F. Koenekamp Special Effects
William L. Kuehl Set Decoration/Design
Dick Mayberry Asst. Director
William McGann Special Effects
Perc Westmore Makeup
Ayn Rand Screenwriter
Max Steiner Score Composer
John Wallace Makeup
David Weisbart Editor

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The Fountainhead
1. Credits [1:02]
2. Uncompromising [6:08]
3. Standing Alone [3:43]
4. My Own Standards [3:22]
5. What the Public Wants [3:25]
6. Wynand's Terms [4:38]
7. Incapable of Feeling [2:00]
8. Drilled Into Her Mind [3:25]
9. Cracked Marble [4:55]
10. Whipped Into a Frenzy [4:28]
11. Enright House Furor [4:47]
12. Gulf Between Us [4:54]
13. Love That Must Wait [4:30]
14. Acceptances and Rejections [4:03]
15. Success Story [1:58]
16. Unbreakable [5:57]
17. Feeling Once Granted [4:53]
18. Cortlandt Homes [5:31]
19. Monumental Mood [3:19]
20. Test of Courage [4:43]
21. Destroy the Sabateur [2:46]
22. Not Afraid Any Longer [4:11]
23. Power Play [4:58]
24. Giving In [4:10]
25. Individual Vs. Collective [5:02]
26. The Verdict.. [3:58]
27. Final Monument [3:24]
28. Love Ascendant [2:05]


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The Fountainhead 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Perhaps you should take another look at the titles to the film. Who wrote the screenplay for this weak adaptation of Rand's book? Ayn Rand wrote the screenplay, that's who.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
While the Movie was not true entirely to the book, the movie does gove a good idea to readers who might want to read the book but are confused by the novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Characters do not have a chance to develop. Gary Cooper comes off as a stingy, selfish Roark, and Patricia Neal a not so hot Dominique. Massey not the one to play Wynand in my opinion. If you loved the book, you will probably not care all that much for the movie. Perhaps a remake some day?