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The Fountainhead

4.2 out of 5 stars 444 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Fountainhead, The (DVD)

Academy Award winners Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal star in this dramatic adaptation of Ayn Rand's groundbreaking novel about an architect who, refusing to compromise or accept the status quo, will sacrifice anything to preserve the integrity of his work.

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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 DVD library. --Donald Liebenson

Special Features

  • New featurette The Making of The Fountainhead
  • Theatrical Trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Gary Cooper, Patricia Neal, Raymond Massey, Kent Smith, Henry Hull
  • Directors: King Vidor
  • Writers: Ayn Rand
  • Producers: Henry Blanke
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Black & White, Dubbed, Original recording remastered, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0), French (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: November 7, 2006
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (444 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000HWZ4A2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,816 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Fountainhead" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
The first time I saw this movie, circa 1969, I was disappointed. I felt it was melodramatically presented, in black and white, and in two hours it was an injustice to the novel's power and grandeur. The actors did not seem to measure up, or buy in, to the characters they portrayed. This movie review, thirty years ago, would have rated "The Fountainhead" as, at best, two stars. It was a definite embarassment to most Ayn Rand devotees at the time.
The five star rating I give the movie today, thirty years and numerous viewings later, is a very personal, indivdualized one. Through these eyes, "The Fountainhead" is enormously moving, well-cast and very well portrayed, if you're the kind of person who relates to: (1) the struggle between integrity and conformity in our private and business lives (2) the travails of entrepreneurship and perseverance in the face of spirit crushing adversity (3) the belief that there is definable difference between good and evil, and that it is really possible for the former to prevail.
Several of Gary Cooper's scenes as Howard Roark are profoundly memorable: (1) when he refuses money from Peter Keating after showing him he was down to his last few cents (2) when he walks out on the munificent offer from the bank board to build a mutation of his bank design (3) the party scene when Dominique discovers the quarry worker she had obsessed over was Roger Enright's architect, Howard Roark.
There's more. Great camera angles, strong dialogue from the supporting cast, especially Ellsworth Toohey.
Summarily, the director, screenplay people and actors did a magnificent job within the two hour confines of making a riveting movie. But if you're looking for a verbatim reproduction of the book, or you have an aversion to Ayn Rand's message of individual creativism and freedom, this one's not for you!
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Format: VHS Tape
While it was based on Ayn Rand's book, Ayn Rand personally altered the story to adapt it to film. It is a great movie that really makes the viewer think about many things including individualism, selfishness, and even what is right and wrong. For many people who take these notions as given from a very young, questioning them with an adult mind is a good idea. If you enjoy this movie, be sure to pick up and read some of Ayn Rand's non-fiction.
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Format: VHS Tape
Ayn Rand not only wrote the screenplay for this film based on her classic novel, she was, according to most reports, in favor of casting Gary Cooper as her architect hero Howard Roark. That proved to be a mistake. Not only is Cooper too "mature" for the role, he lacks the necessary passion to deliver Rand's philisophical speeches with conviction. Despite this misstep, "The Fountainhead" is a pretty faithful summary (as opposed to adaptation) of the legendary novel, and though it is far from perfect, the fact that Warner Bros. would even undertake such a radical project shows that the movie moguls of the past (such as Jack L. Warner) had a lot more vision and courage than the folks running the show in Hollywood today. The rest of the cast is quite good, and King Vidor's direction is masterful. The camera angles, the cinematography, and set design are all splendidly offbeat, making this film worthwhile for its visual qualities alone.
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Format: VHS Tape
This is a masterpiece that gives people of independent minds hope and reason to go on with its message of "don't compromise...follow your ideals". As an artist working in a medium that is unusual, I LOVE this movie. I put it on whenever my determination gets a little wobbly ! Strong and handsome, the fabulous Gary Cooper is perfect as Howard Roark, and Patricia Neal and Raymond Massey are also wonderful. The cinematography by Robert Burks ( who did a lot of Alfred Hitchcock's best films ) uses sharp contrasts and is brilliant in its use of shade. This film deserves 5 stars just for how it looks. Don't miss it !
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Format: VHS Tape
Since David O. Selznick (producer of "Gone With the Wind" and "Rebecca") didn't produce this as a faithful adaptation of the novel, but Henry Blanke ("The Maltese Falcon" and "Casablanca") DID, I recommend seeing the movie first. When you read the novel first, you cast it, design sets and play it out in your mind, and in my mind, Howard Roark is played by Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman is Dominique, and Orson Welles plays a thinly-veiled Charles Foster Kane, aka Gail Wynand. Screenplay by Charles Brackett and Ben Hecht, directed by Howard Hawks, Technicolor, music by Bernard Herrmann.
Anyways, since that's all in my mind's eye, let us deal with what's really there:
This film is the greatest example of post-German expressionism after World War II. Visually, it's overflowing with licht und schatten worthy of Lang and Murnau. This is the movie's greatest achievement, deftly accomplished by cinematographer Robert Burks, who confines Gary Cooper (the movie's martyred saint) in a shadow-world so oppressing, that it rivals Scorsese's "Taxi Driver" and Hitchcock's "I Confess" (for which Burks was also DP, as he was on all Hitch's films from the early 1950s through Marnie, in 1964, with the exception of "Psycho") for the sense of loneliness and psychological isolation which crowd in the hero.
Burks owes a lot to "Citizen Kane" in the use of low-camera-angles employed in projecting the movie's tragic hero, Gail Wynand, played by Raymond Massey. Massey brings a British-Canadian flair to the role that is completely outrageous and incongruous with the role's Hell's Kitchen origins. So what! As with Cary Grant, Massey succeeds in the "willing-suspension-of-disbelief" department when it comes to ignoring his British accent.
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