Movie: The Fountainhead (1949)

Mark Hubbard's picture
Submitted by Mark Hubbard on Tue, 2008-07-08 10:57

There are few things that beat doing a great thing for the first time, and tonight I did just that.

Watched The Fountainhead for the first time.

Reading books and watching movies are two of my top passions, but I’ve always been a little afraid to watch this movie, fearing it would diminish the book: I have been pleasantly surprised. I found it carried the ideas of the novel, and spirit, well, due no doubt to Ayn Rand completing the screen play, and from the beginning setting her unconditional terms, just as her hero did.

Sure, Cooper was a little wooden, Neal tending toward the melodramatic, but the movie was close enough to excellent to still inspire.

I also watched the first five minutes of ‘The Making of The Fountainhead’, which looks very interesting, so I’ll watch that later in the week, or at the weekend.


( categories: )

Even though I own this movie

Landon Erp's picture

It's one of them that almost makes me forget how much I like the book. I'll never forget my first reading after seeing the movie... I imagined Cooper doing all of Roark's dialogue. (shudder)

The production on this film is good but I prefer the acting in this version poor production values illegal status and all.

---Landon

Never mistake contempt for compassion, or power lust for ambition.

http://www.myspace.com/wickedlakes

"If we resist our passions

Sandi's picture

It is more due to their weakness than to our strength"

- François de La Rochefoucauld

I agree with you in the

Mark Hubbard's picture

I agree with you in the most part Olivia. Her character is given to the audience aptly in her opening scene where she destroys the beautiful vase by throwing it out the window.

 

Roark takes her knowing she will submit. She has to because she desires him, her actions have told him that already.

It's here I have the problem, as much as I understand this as written by yourself, and Mindy and Marcus - vis a vis context. But this is bordering on saying 'no' means 'yes'.

Perhaps my 'issue' is that I view Rand's novels as philosophical treatises, not as 'literature' (I know, I'm opening a barrage of lines of attack into myself here), thus, while this vagueness in intent/meaning might 'add' to the novels as literature, they take away certainty for me as philosophy.  Or more particularly, Rand's view on sex.

Rough sex in the Fountainhead

Olivia's picture

Dominique is like a spoilt child. Cynical and bored, with an attitude. She doesn’t believe that “the good” can exist, and even if it could exist, she doesn’t believe it can win. It will only be crushed. Along with this belief, she cultivates the fine art of being way past caring. This is her in a defeatist mind-set.

Roark sees her. Sees her and desires her. She’s interested, but she defaults to past-caring mode.

When he sends the little Italian man to fix the tile instead of doing it himself, Dominique shows up outraged. Why? Because she cared a great deal about seeing him.

When he says to her “I didn’t think it would make any difference to you Miss Francon,” she commits an act of violence – that’s how disappointed she is. That’s how NOT past caring she truly was.

Roark takes her knowing she will submit. She has to because she desires him, her actions have told him that already.

Just as their friendship

Mark Hubbard's picture

Just as their friendship travels a very rocky road, despite their intense, mutual attraction, their "seduction" is rough, indirect, and acted out. But that incident shouldn't be taken as exemplary of Rand's view on sexual roles and seduction! The context precludes that.

 

Context. Mindy's comment above, and Marcus's are getting me over my hurdle. I'm going to read the novel again.

[Mindy, welcome to SOLO! Four great posts already, I look forward to seeing your further contributions.]

 

I can't really understand why Mark is upset about Fountainhead.

Marcus's picture

If you ask me the "sex" scene in the film is much tamer than in the book, and as far as Rand's predilections go she pushes the envelope much further in Atlas Shrugged with the sex scenes between Hank and Dagny.

I could speculate that Rand may have taken the "romance" movie genre of her formative years, as I have said, of the "no, no, unhand me you brute, no, no...(slaps him across the face)...no, no, unhand me...no. no..ahh..yes...yes..please...more" - that type of thing, as her model.

However, when you think about it, from a theatrical point of view, it makes perfect sense. On the one hand, the man is asserting his masculinity - on the other hand the woman is defending her femininity (i.e. showing that she protects her purity, but at the same time has a hidden lust kept inside for the right man to unleash).

As long as you keep in mind the assumption that both the man and the woman are truly attracted to one another, and that is exactly the assumption that Rand always had in mind.

Look to context in Fountainhead sex

Ptgymatic's picture

 

Hello. 

The sexual relationship that develops between Dominique and Roark reflects each's philosophical maturity. Dominique is still finding her way, philosophically.

 Just as their friendship travels a very rocky road, despite their intense, mutual attraction, their "seduction" is rough, indirect, and acted out. But that incident shouldn't be taken as exemplary of Rand's view on sexual roles and seduction! The context precludes that.

That is splendid to know,

Elijah's picture

That is splendid to know, Mark....but I am renowned as the 'perfect' guest...full of conversation, anecdotes, hilarious jokes and bonhomie...therefore masking my mouth may be such a waste. Smiling

http://nzcapitalist.blogspot.com/ 

"She seems to view seduction as rape."

Marcus's picture

That reminds me actually that in the black and white movies of the 40's and 50's, it was par for the course that the woman would put up a struggle before giving in to her passion. It often involved a physical tussle.

OK, it didn't always end up in sex, although as the camera panned away it was often implied. In those days, that sort of thing was considered the height of romance, the woman putting up a bit of a struggle, although she really wanted it.

At one stage, I wondered why that was considered the height of romance, but now has completely disappeared. But I guess it's the political correctness of our times.

To be honest, at the time I saw these films on TV as a kid, I just thought it was completely silly. Now as an adult I think it is enjoyable, when in the right context.

For example:

About my cinema room, I'm

Mark Hubbard's picture

About my cinema room, I'm always serious.

You, and any SOLOist are welcome anytime (even Elijah, if he cares to masking tape his mouth up first Smiling )

Jeez man!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

That's why I turned a spare bedroom into a cinema room: high definition front projection, lovely surround sound (the sub-woofer can knock the downlights out of the ceiling), 102" screen, toilet two doors down, beer or wine on tap, coffee and tea, only seats three, so no room for trendy movie wankers.

Seriously?

I'm on my way down with my DVDs!!

Glenn: I've just watched

Mark Hubbard's picture

Glenn: I've just watched the court room scene again - could have been better. Didn't really impress on me last night as I was as much reciting the book in my mind, as watching Cooper on screen.

Linz: detouring for a moment (my thread after all).

 I remember seeing it on the big screen at some Ak festival. Full house of trendy movie-wankers

That's why I turned a spare bedroom into a cinema room: high definition front projection, lovely surround sound (the sub-woofer can knock the downlights out of the ceiling), 102" screen, toilet two doors down, beer or wine on tap, coffee and tea, only seats three, so no room for trendy movie wankers Smiling

Cooper ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... is quoted as admitting as much in the "Making of" feature. Not that it isn't blindingly obvious anyway!

Still and all, it's a gem. I remember seeing it on the big screen at some Ak festival. Full house of trendy movie-wankers, yet they all burst into applause at its conclusion. Amazing.

The best thing about it

Jameson's picture

was Robert Burks' photography ~ absolutely stunning!! But Cooper, c'mon... he clearly didn't have the slightest idea about what he was saying ~ especially in court.

If

gregster's picture

the crack of the whip across Cooper's face wasn't a blatant "come hither," what is? http://www.solopassion.com/nod...

In Rand's words, if it was

Mark Hubbard's picture

In Rand's words, if it was rape, then it was by engraved invitation.

 

That's pretty shaky ground Peter. She was so clear in her philosophy, it's interesting there is such deliberate vagueness here on her behalf.

Again, I think I can see what she was getting at, but this is one point where in carrying Objectivism to a 'logical conclusion' it gets to an area that is not comfortable (for me): that love is a struggle between selves (no problem with that), and that it then involves the submission of one party (have trouble with that), and this submission, because the self is fighting 'surrender', is brought about by force, despite the 'engraved invitation' (big trouble with that).

Two days ago I read the bio of a new member (now slipped off the menu on the left) that said something to the effect of he agreed with Rand's philosophy, politics and ethics, but not her views on, amongst two other things I cannot remember, sex. If he is reading, I'd love his opinion on this.

In Rand's words, if it was

Peter Cresswell's picture

In Rand's words, if it was rape, then it was by engraved invitation.

Glenn: he's not quite that

Mark Hubbard's picture

Glenn: he's not quite that bad. Although the very final scene of him standing atop his skyscraper, braced against the wind, didn't work for me. I could see the obvious symbolism involved, but the clothes weren't right, and the facial grimace was the opposite I what I think that ending portrays.

 

Marcus: agree with your statements. As I said in my header post, I didn't get time to watch all 'The Making Of ...', but did note in what I saw that Barbara Stanwyck was the person who first brought the novel to the attention of producers because she wanted to play the role. I'll be interested in watching the rest of that special feature to see why it then ended with Neal, for I think Stanwyck would have been an excellent choice as Dominique.

 

This matter of sex again.

 

I've brought this up before, long ago, but watching the movie hit my worry button again. The first 'sex' scene between Roark and Dominique: as in Atlas Shrugged, that is basically a rape. Even in 1949 they couldn't escape showing it as such in this movie.

I think this is the one area I disagree with Rand, and worse, think she contradicts her own philosophy.

She seems to view seduction as rape. One will that must submit to a stronger will. For me, a relationship should not be built on submission and hence force. I see what she is getting at; a battling of wills in which one must out and stamp its individuality, but that's no sort of relationship I've been in, or would want. And it doesn't fit well with Objectivism as otherwise philosophised by Rand. A contradiction, in fact, and I'm always wary of contradictions.

Does anyone have an explanation of this aspect vis a vis Objectivism? A suitable link for me to read? The fact that this happens in the two major relationships in Rand's work means she was obviously getting at something she viewed as consistent with her thoughts, but I don't get it.

Knock...knock..who's wooden?

Marcus's picture

Cooper is often criticised for playing the character wooden. But I ask you, how else could he have played the character in a believable fashion?

Much of what goes into Rand's famous heroes is psychological, rather than demonstrative, as is needed in the theatrical context. Unfortunately, Roark does not have much action, dialogue nor express much emotion in the book until the end.

I thoroughly enjoyed the film. It has some differences to the book, but that's what I had expected.

A little wooden?!

Jameson's picture

In this film Cooper makes a tree seem wholly human. Smiling

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