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The Fountainhead [Import]

3.5 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Gary Cooper, Patricia Neal, Raymond Massey, Kent Smith, Robert Douglas
  • Directors: King Vidor
  • Writers: Ayn Rand
  • Producers: Henry Blanke
  • Format: NTSC, Import
  • Language: English
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: MGM (Warner)
  • VHS Release Date: Sept. 1 1998
  • Run Time: 114 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews
  • ASIN: 6301969294
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Product Description

Exhibiting a darker edge to his hero persona, the strapping Gary Cooper has the (Frank Lloyd) Wright stuff as architect Harold Roark, a "fool visionary" who refuses to conform his artistic ideas to popular taste. His inflexibility makes enemies out of a tabloid architecture critic and a tycoon (Raymond Massey), who proclaims, "All men can be bought... there are no men of integrity." Keating (Kent Smith), a former classmate, urges Roark to take "the middle of the road so it's sure to please everybody." But Roark will not compromise, and when one of his building designs is radically altered without his consent, he resorts to drastic measures. Adapted for the screen by Ayn Rand from her towering and controversial bestseller, The Fountainhead is about as subtle as that phallic drill Roark wields so impressively, which catches the frenzied eye of the formidable Dominique Francon (Patricia Neal in her film debut). She recognizes Roark's nobility, but fears he has no chance "in a world where beauty, genius and greatness have no chance." Rand did little to dilute her polemics for the screen, resulting in melodramatic scenes that border on high camp, such as Roark and Francon's rather sexually charged discussion about limestone. Rand practiced what she preached. According to a bonus featurette about the making of the film, she refused to trim Roark's then-unprecedented six-minute courtroom speech in which he defends his actions. Even for those who don't adhere to her philosophy, The Fountainhead does offer something rarely seen on screens these days, a man of unshakable principles. And Hollywood could sure note Rand's object lesson about the perils of mediocrity and catering to "the mob." For Cooper fans, The Fountainhead is an essential addition to your movie library. --Donald Liebenson

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
I have been accused of being a collectivist because I do not enjoy Ayn Rand's novels. I'd always tried to argue that it wasn't the message that I disagreed with, but the delivery. In fact, I whole heartedly believe that man's individuality is his greatest strength, that true virtue can only be reached when man stands alone, and that a person should not have to compromise his or her vision to serve society. I also don't suffer under the delusion that this is an amazing revelation and that I am one of the few people in the world that understands this.
Unfortunately, her writing and the film adaptation of her book "The Fountainhead" makes it clear that she did believe this. The way people talk is ridiculous. Nearly everything that came out of the mouths of the "bad guys" was something like: "What hope can one man have to stand against the will of the majority? In an age such as ours we can not afford to have individuals who dare hold their own vision." The dialogue is really that silly.
Rand called her style of writing Romantic Realism. Romantic because it dealt with people not as they are, but as they should be. Realism because her stories were set in the real world. Since the good guys (like the supreme egoist and hero of the film Howard Roark) embody her Romantic ideal, I am only left to believe that she put the bad guys (the conformists and collectivists) into the realism column. That is absurd. I'm sorry Ms. Rand, but people don't talk like that, and very very few people think like that.
That is the main flaw of this film and Ayn Rand's fiction in general -- it is not set in the real world. Her message would have been countless times more effective had it strived to show the more subtle ways that people are made to conform and compromise.
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Format: VHS Tape
Rand had unprecedented control over this film: approval of cast, script (she rewrote Cooper's final speech making it LONGER), and all the other nonsense.
And it's all crap. But MAGNIFICENT crap.
See EVIL ARCHITECTS CONSPIRE AGAINST THE INDIVIDUAL!
See SPIRIT OF MAN TRIUMP OVER MEDIO...MEDIORCH... DULLNESS!
See PATRICIA NEAL WHIP COOPER (literally) UNTIL HE RAPES HER (her idea)!
See RIOTS IN THE STREET OVER A BUILDING! Yep.
See SETS WITHOUT WALLS! Very cool effect
See AN OFFICE THE SIZE OF CONNETICUT! So big the ceiling is a matte painting.
See EVERYONE SHOVE THEIR JAWS FORWARD! They must've all had their retainers in upside down.
See THE HOMO-EROTIC QUARRY! Really, it's creepy... those distant explosions...
Finally a movie that shows ARCHITECTURE the way it really is.
WHY CAN'T I GIVE THIS FILM TEN STARS?!!! You goddam Collectivists!
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By A Customer on May 11 2002
Format: VHS Tape
Oh, it's hard to rate this film with stars.
The problem is dramatic; Pat Neal is mesmerizing as Dominique, and Vidor moves the movie along with brilliant momentum.
Then we have Gary Cooper, who seems embarrassed - as well he should - by the cartoonish dialogue. All right, Rand wants to ram her objectivist views down every available throat. But surely someone with a sense of good dialogue was near the set? Her screenplay is riddled with sentiments expressed as subtly as the 'Ka-POWS!' in the Batman TV show. Herds of sheeplike businessmen say 'But what's the good in originality?', or, 'Look here, old man, one mustn't fight popular opinion!'. It's really that banal.
Too bad. I don't much care about the philosophy Rand espouses, either way. What bothers me is that a ridiculously clumsy trumpeting of it ruins what good have been a classic film.
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By A Customer on Oct. 11 2002
Format: VHS Tape
And then some... There doesn't seem to be one line in this film (or in the book) that doesn't telegraph Rand's "philosophy" like a punch to the proboscis. The pompous & silly propagandizing is worse than Riefenstahl's films for Hitler. But it was prescient in one very key sense. It anticipated the strong need of today's viewing & reading public for easy-to-understand formulas that substitute for real thinking (& "self" understanding). Good cinematography though. Vidor always did have a great feel for the WPA look.
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Format: VHS Tape
Howard Roark, independent architect, is determined to do it his way or not. To make ends meet during lean times he gets a day job at a rock quarry. There he meats his match and bets literally wiped by the boss’s daughter Dominique Francon (Patricia Neal.) they both seem to know more of the world than most people do. She works for a newspaper and to punisher self for falling in love with Howard marries her boss Gail Wynand (Raymond Massy.) This does not denture Howard form building Gail and Dominique their dream house. Eventually getting the chance of a lifetime to build low-income housing through another architect, he jumps at the chance as long as it means only doing it the Howard Roark way. Watch the movie to find out what happens and why he is such a stickler for the work of the individual.

You can argue about film versus book until the cows come home. You could say, "Let’s make this with Helen Mirren and Mel Gibson." You can even have Turner colonize it. Well folks, it is not going to happen; so do not waste your time wishing, and look at this movie.

This is a pretty faithful summary (as opposed to adaptation). In that, you get the essence of the book with a few saved speeches. All the actors get their point over to you: this includes Gary Cooper as Howard Roark (he purposely looks stoic and amused) and Patricia Neal as Dominique (looking frustrated and aloof.)

The scenes, black and white with exaggerated camera angles, portray the story very well. The Frank Lloyd Wright architecture adds to the time period. The tone of the movie gives the impression that this was copied from a stage play where one person at a time talks and no one overlaps until the first person is finished.

All in all, the entire movie is worth the viewing. And reviewing for the details.
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