The Fountainhead - The Movie


seeker

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~ Reading the rest of this thread brought back to mind some 'behind the scenes' interviews I remember seeing of George Lucas about his films (not ONLY the SW ones). Either he, or commenters on his films, stressed the idea that in cinema, for the most part, the visuals themselves should be able to tell most of the 'story,' and that dialogue was almost regarded as secondary. This is definitely stressing cinematography as the highest priority here.

~ I'd guess there're film classes that get into this subject (and I wonder it's relevence to stage-plays?), but after reading the above, I can appreciate this perspective of some film-makers. Hitchcock comes to mind.

~ I WILL re-check THE FOUNTAINHEAD movie...sans sound. Thanx for the idea re a subject I'm too little familiar with.

LLAP

J:D

Edited by John Dailey
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I found a copy of the Movie version of AR's The Foutainhead 1949 (Gary Cooper)- on DVD no less. I had no idea that this had been made into a film, so I bought it. AR was the playwrite as well. As usual the book was far better than the movie. In fact compared to the book the movie was senseless! Not one character seemed to have the slightest motivation for doing the things they did. Most apalling were changes made to the story such as Dominique leaving Peter for Gail Wynand breaking their ENGAGEMENT not their MARRIAGE. I am always prepared for the movie to fall short of the book. But in this case the movie was an injustice if not an insult to AR's message. I just could not believe that AR wrote the screen play. It was a deeply disappointing movie and from my point view failed to get AR's point and objectivism's message across.

Appearantly I am missing something because the many reviews I read on line written recently by recent viewers (not professional reviewers) - raved about how pefectly the film brought out AR's philosphy. It was a stilted boring and stiff script that sounded more like the actors were reading from ther que cards and making no attempt to hide that fact. Shoddy at best.

Hi Seeker

Well you may or may not be missing something - people can take different views! - but personally I don't agree with you. I saw the film more or less by chance when it was shown in London a while ago - and I'd read both TF and AS first - and I thought it was great!

I posted my reactions on objectivistcenter.com and hope you'll forgive my quoting myself here...

I wondered how well TF would translate to film. My preconception was that movies are better at action than ideas. I'm conscious that Rand's novels are pretty intellectual and philosophical, and her characters have a way of breaking into long set-piece speeches which is arguably a bit un-novelistic and even more un-filmic. I've read with interest about the plans to film “Atlas Shrugged”, but wondered a little how on earth one could do it.

I checked out what Internet commentators, including both movie fans and objectivists, had to say about the film,and got essentially a lot of gripes. Was Gary Cooper too old? Did the architecture look right? Was the sexual symbolism (drills, skyscrapers) too unsubtle? Was the romantic orchestral score a bit much? Would the images disrupt one's internal visions of the characters?

So I went in with (I hope) an open mind, but also a degree of scepticism. I should also say that I'm more a reader than a viewer, and that when I do see films they tend to be modern rather than vintage. The last old film I remember seeing was Chaplin's “Great Dictator” (also highly recommended, by the way).

In the event, I thought the film of “The Fountainhead” was absolutely great.

Yes, it's a late-40s Hollywood movie and conforms to the conventions of its place and time. But then these guys were seriously good at making movies, and it's not hard to suspend your disbelief and live with those conventions. Yes, quite a lot of the content of the novel ends up on the cutting room floor. But then a good screenwriter knows that a film is something different from a book, and works with that, even if it's not the case (as here) that the screenwriter is also the novelist. Some of the incidents may have gone, but the message is intact.

The movie – perhaps even more than the novel? - is absolutely clear and purposeful. Every scene makes its point and has its place in the argument. Not a word or a shot is wasted.

I guess there are two ways of looking at the film. If you're coming at it as a Rand enthusiast, looking for a work of art you can appreciate, then see it – it's good. Another way of looking at it, though, is as a vehicle for advocacy and education in objectivism. Several times I've tried to introduce friends to Rand's ideas. While a paperback copy of “The Fountainhead” or “Atlas Shrugged” can be an inexpensive present, not everyone is immediately turned on by the prospect of eleven hundred pages of tiny print. I know some people advocate “Anthem” as a starter, and I can see why they do, although personally I find the fantasy setting of that book less compelling that the more-or-less modern contexts of the late great novels. I'd suggest that the film of “The Fountainhead” could well be a fine alternative easy way in to Rand's thought. I understand from amazon.com that it will be out on DVD very soon. (I only hope the US DVD works in Europe.)

Best regards

Adrian

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In the new Essays on Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead there is chapter on turning the book into a movie by Jeff Britting. It is well worth reading. Miss Rand was not the first choice to write the screenplay. Some of the earlier efforts were awful. The next time I am going to take the advice and turn off the sound.

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  • 2 weeks later...
A very interesting post, Greybird. Now that you mention it, I am aware that many people who see the movie without having read the novel are overwhelmingly moved and fascinated by it -- and rush to get the book. I can imagine how stunning it must be to first encounter Rand's ideas in this rather stark, unembroidered form. I think you're correct in suggesting that the movie is a wonderful way to be introduced to Rand. I don't agree that it's necessarily the best way, however; I suspect that each of us thinks the way he first encountered Rand was the best way, and mine was through the novel of The Fountainhead.

Barbara

IN fact, the title of my movie review for it was "See the Movie First, THEN Read the Novel."

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  • 2 months later...

Think of the movie in the context of the films and style of that time.

A good late night movie to watch. That stone-faced Gary Cooper as Roark.

The attempting-to-be-frivolous Dominique

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  • 4 months later...

Kat and I just saw this on DVD and also saw the bonus documentary, The Making of The Fountainhead, that bore the copyright of 2006, so it is a recent mounting of old film footage with a modern narrator. Before getting to the movie, a couple of comments about the documentary. I had never seen footage of King Vidor before, so it was cool seeing him. It was kinda cute how they glorified the "scandalous affair" between Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal, which had started during the filming, and presented as glamorous. As this was undoubtedly overseen by ARI people (it certainly had the signs of it), I couldn't help thinking that when it is others who have affairs with married people, it is glamorous, but when it is Rand herself... ahem... I digress. Also, there was a very curious notice at the end. Special thanks were given to Leonard Peikoff and Michael Mentzer on a full screen.

Michael Mentzer??? The weight lifter who died in 2001???

Whatever...

One thing the documentary mentioned was that King Vidor was mostly famous at that time as a silent movie director. Since I saw the documentary before seeing the film (again), I focused on this comment and, by golly, that is what characterizes this film. It is a modernized silent film with dialog. Especially Patricia Neal's constantly exaggerated tragic facial expressions and the mostly wooden delivery by most of the actors during much of the film. In Brazil, I did a lot of subtitle translation for old silent films in video so I have these images in my memory. Once it was verbalized, the silent movie style of The Fountainhead simply jumped out at me and I found it charming as all get out. What I used to consider as stilted I now saw as stylized (for lack of a better word), but not stylized in an Objectivist sense of romantic realism—stylized in the sense that silent movies are not real.

The most regrettable thing I found about Max Steiner's score is that it was lush without being very memorable. The main melody is not a strong one and the others are even more bland. The strange thing is that I now find the lushness a bit out of place during most of the film. But it did work when Patricia Neal was doing her thing with extravagant looks and gestures.

All in all, I am glad I saw it again. Despite these criticisms, the constant harping on ability and integrity during the film hit me in the gut hard and it felt good.

Michael

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Hi Adrian:

From the comments I've read here and yours in particular, I am going to have to view the film again -- when I first viewed it - I had just finished reading TF and I think I was unwittingly expecting the book and the movie to be one in the same in most aspects. This is an unrealistic expectation for any book and screen play combination. Hence, I probably did miss something in a more profound way than I'd like to admit. In addition I've now read all of AR's books except Anthem and have read several other books about her and/or objectivist philosophy and find I am intrigued and absorbed by AR's life and philosophy even more than I was initially. I believe I will see it from a fresh prospective and more intense interest.

I will be the first to admit that I have a hard time viewing films made in the 40's and 50's because I find most the acting to be too mechanical to be real :sleep: - the opposite seems to be true of modern films where I think they are often too realistic/graphic in general. If TF were made today I would expect there to be torrid graphic depictions of sexual encounters among other things that would detract from the movies message. So each era has its own distractions -- but keeping that in mind may very well be the ticket to my enjoyment of TF, the movie. To be continued! :w00t:

Warmest regards,

Seeker

P.S. I have not heard of Chaplin's "Great Dictator" or at least I don't recall coming across it in my 67 years on the planet -- I will indeed check it out!

Hi Seeker

Well you may or may not be missing something - people can take different views! - but personally I don't agree with you. I saw the film more or less by chance when it was shown in London a while ago - and I'd read both TF and AS first - and I thought it was great!

I posted my reactions on objectivistcenter.com and hope you'll forgive my quoting myself here...

I wondered how well TF would translate to film. My preconception was that movies are better at action than ideas. I'm conscious that Rand's novels are pretty intellectual and philosophical, and her characters have a way of breaking into long set-piece speeches which is arguably a bit un-novelistic and even more un-filmic. I've read with interest about the plans to film “Atlas Shrugged”, but wondered a little how on earth one could do it.

I checked out what Internet commentators, including both movie fans and objectivists, had to say about the film,and got essentially a lot of gripes. Was Gary Cooper too old? Did the architecture look right? Was the sexual symbolism (drills, skyscrapers) too unsubtle? Was the romantic orchestral score a bit much? Would the images disrupt one's internal visions of the characters?

So I went in with (I hope) an open mind, but also a degree of scepticism. I should also say that I'm more a reader than a viewer, and that when I do see films they tend to be modern rather than vintage. The last old film I remember seeing was Chaplin's “Great Dictator” (also highly recommended, by the way).

In the event, I thought the film of “The Fountainhead” was absolutely great.

Yes, it's a late-40s Hollywood movie and conforms to the conventions of its place and time. But then these guys were seriously good at making movies, and it's not hard to suspend your disbelief and live with those conventions. Yes, quite a lot of the content of the novel ends up on the cutting room floor. But then a good screenwriter knows that a film is something different from a book, and works with that, even if it's not the case (as here) that the screenwriter is also the novelist. Some of the incidents may have gone, but the message is intact.

The movie – perhaps even more than the novel? - is absolutely clear and purposeful. Every scene makes its point and has its place in the argument. Not a word or a shot is wasted.

I guess there are two ways of looking at the film. If you're coming at it as a Rand enthusiast, looking for a work of art you can appreciate, then see it – it's good. Another way of looking at it, though, is as a vehicle for advocacy and education in objectivism. Several times I've tried to introduce friends to Rand's ideas. While a paperback copy of “The Fountainhead” or “Atlas Shrugged” can be an inexpensive present, not everyone is immediately turned on by the prospect of eleven hundred pages of tiny print. I know some people advocate “Anthem” as a starter, and I can see why they do, although personally I find the fantasy setting of that book less compelling that the more-or-less modern contexts of the late great novels. I'd suggest that the film of “The Fountainhead” could well be a fine alternative easy way in to Rand's thought. I understand from amazon.com that it will be out on DVD very soon. (I only hope the US DVD works in Europe.)

Best regards

Adrian

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Hi Seeker

Thank you, that's kind of you. I'm very pleased that you found my post interesting.

Chaplin's "Great Dictator" (moving off-topic a little) is a humorous treatment of a very unhumorous topic (the Nazis). I believe Chaplin later said that he couldn't have made it if he had really understood what was going on. Still. to my mind, the film is very sharp and really hits home. I'll be most interested to hear what you make of it. (We may need a new thread for that.)

All good wishes

Adrian

Edited by Adrian
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Rich; You mentioned the score for The Fountainhead. The score was by Max Steiner who did a lot of Warner Brothers movies. Years ago I had a cassette that had excerpts from some of his movie work including The Fountainhead. If anyone know about this I would love to hear.

Hi Chris

A very late reply. Apologies.

I think you can find the original recording (released for some reason by Brigham Young University) at http://www.screenarchives.com/title_detail.cfm?ID=4119.

There's a later. more modern, re-recording of suites from this and other Steiner movie scores at http://www.amazon.com/Now-Voyager-Classic-...3030&sr=1-1.

Hope that helps.

Best regards

Adrian

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MSK:

~ Re Metzer (Metzner?) I know nothing of his association debated here, but, as an aside, was extremely surprised a while back (ok: more than a decade+ ago) while reading some of the 'muscle' mags (when my stepson-of-then was into body-building) that here was someone writing 'intellectual stuff' (apart from the usual concretes of specific diets and weights to live by and for) about body-building, and, was a self-avowed Rand-promoting 'Objectivist.' I still can't get over that this was in a 'muscle' mag.

~ Wiki has some interesting background on him and Weider.

LLAP

J:D

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The second one is the one I brought as an LP.(For the youngsters LP is abbrev. for long playing phonograph record)

I'll be surprised if someone doesn't assume you meant Leonard Peikoff.

Alfonso

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FOR THOSE BORN POST-'80:

~ Record-wise, 1st (popularly accepted, that is) there were the 78-rpm (rounds-per-minute) vinyl (aka plastic) 'records,' about 1 ft wide; then came the less-than-1 ft wide '45's (45 rpm) with a special larger center opening for a special large spindle to fit on the original record-playing center-spindle. Then came the 33-1/3 rpms, wider (1-1/2 ft?) than the 78's, but fitting the original spindle; THESE were called the Long Playing records.

~ Then came the 8-track tapes, their cassette descendents, and Leonard Piekoff. Who knows what Phoenix will rise from cassettes' offspring, Compact-Discs?

LLAP

J:D

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John; Wasn't Leonard Peikoff born in 1935? I thought 331/3 records came after World War 2.

33-1/3 records were invented for use, I believe, in the 1930s. They were not available for public consumption until 1949, when Columnia Records introduced the 12" LP.

However, their use was widespread for Armed Forces Radio during WW2, as it was a much more compacted form of music storage than 78 rpm records. In fact, the AFR records were 15" on diameter, and most people would have difficulty playing them on a turntable manufactured with 12" as the outer diameter limit.

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Robert:

~ I was going by vague personal-experience memory. My measurement-refs apparently were off. Being a kid then, things apparently seemed larger than they were. Your explanation now explains my perplexity as to why my portable record-player wouldn't close up with an 'LP' sitting on the turntable; clearly it was built for '78's.

Chris:

~ I don't think L. Piekoff started lecturing when he was born. I think he started a bit later.

LLAP

J:D

Edited by John Dailey
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MSK:

~ Sorry, I must; her as well as him. She was not a born-lecturer. She was a born-writer. She didn't start lecturing until after she stopped writing (books, anyways.) Same for the Long-Playing intellectual...descendent. --- Now I'm getting confused as to whethr we're talking recording-devices and technology, or people and ideas. :rolleyes:

LLAP

J:D

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~ No two ways about it: whatever it's 'flaws' as one subjectively evaluates it in mere terms of 'likes-dislikes', this movie, then, as well as now, is heads-and-shoulders of a different and 'higher' calibre than most movies made before, then, and since. I said that Gary Cooper was 'adequate' in handling his part and I praised his co-actors higher re their handling theirs. I must add that, movie-buff that I am, I'm not aware of any other actor that YET can really handle (in a more 'believable' manner, which is not to be confused with "I'd prefer/like-more to see 'X' doing it" ) his part better than he did, regardless that some see Cooper as 'wooden' (not I) in doing it. --- An aside: maybe a thread should be started to distinguish the diff between someone showing passion...and, merely showing scene-chewing emoting.

~ If I didn't make it clear, Cooper was 'adequate'...and playing Roark: that's no small feat. God help the actor who plays Galt in the upcoming Atlas Shrugged.

Excellent observation regarding the "...diff between someone showing...passion...and, merely showing scene-chewing...emoting." Cooper did more with micro-facial actions and his total kinesics than most actors do with a "heart wrenching sob scene". I happened to sit in on my colleauge's "The Art of Oral Interpretation" course many years ago and chose Roark's jury summation as my end term performance project. Coop's cadence was not the best, but his iron certainty as to his principles connected to his legal contractual connection in his summation was stunning in its clarity. It took eight [8] minutes in the movie. I extended the time for cadence purposes when I did it and I was more animated. However, it is an intense speech and one of the most difficult tasks to perform it is to sustain it, which he did.

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Selene; Did you make a recording of this project? It would be interesting to see how someone else die it.

No. It was the early seventies, we were still doing cave paintings.

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