The Fountainhead was a serious effort to make a good movie. It’s so silly because it takes itself so seriously.
The book and movie are vehicles for Ayn Rand’s controversial philosophy, which says greed is good, and strong people take what they want without apology. She influenced today’s privileged “1%”and conservative Republicans, who read her when they were young, and quote her now.
Rand’s philosophy is still respected, and taken seriously by many people. Others call her a tin horn fascist
The Fountainhead stars top actors Gary Cooper, Patricia Neal, and Raymond Massey.
It is one of the worst movies ever made, and my candidate for the silliest ever, because it takes itself SO DARN SEROUSLY.
My best friend Corinna West, the smartest person I know, was one of many adolescents
who admired and embraced Rand’s “objectivist” philosophy. She has not let it go completely, even though she’s against most of the corporate “1%” whose leaders read Rand as adolescents and now say she influenced them.
Corinna thinks it’s wrong to blame Rand for the selfish greed that governs our corporations and Republican Party today. The corporate boards and right wing politicians are misapplying her ideas, she says.
“[Rand] did not believe corporations should have human rights,” she says.
Rand was also not against helping the poor, elderly, and people with illnesses and disabilities, Corinna said. ”[Rand] just thought the help should come from private charity, not the government.”
That’s a seductive argument, internally consistent and hard to argue against, but there has never been a time in human history when private charity came close to meeting the needs of society’s deserving poor, whose poverty is not their fault.
Here are some reasons I think The Fountainhead is a bad, silly movie:
1. The dialogue is among the silliest ever put on a screen. People don’t talk anything like that. No screen writer would have written such wooden, unnatural lines for actors. It sounds like much of it came directly from the book, Rand’s writing style.
2. The female lead, played by Patricia Neal, falls in love with the male lead, architect Howard Roarke, played by Gary Cooper, after he rapes her. She admires a man who takes what he wants with no apology. Apparently, rape, as well as corporate greed, are signs of a real man. (Selfish corporate greed is embodied in the movie by the Raymond Massey character.)
3. Roarke designs a low-cost housing project. When a committee hangs balconies outside the apartment windows, Roarke blows up the whole development.
4. Roarke’s defense in court is that the design is his. When people changed it without his permission, he had a right to blow up all the buildings.
5. A long speech for Cooper in his movies is “Yup” or “Nope.” But his climactic courtroom speech is several uninterrupted minutes of pure Rand rhetoric and philosophy. When Cooper first saw the script, he reportedly said, “Lotta words. I’ll learn ‘em.”
5. In that speech, he pronounces the word architect Are-Key-Tect.
5. He gets acquitted.
The final image in the movie shows Neal riding an elevator up the side of Cooper’s enormous skyscraper with Cooper staring down at her with his fists on his hips. Two phallic symbols in a single frame.
It’s silly, because it takes itself so seriously.