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The Fountainhead (1949)

The Fountainhead

Director:King Vidor
Cast:Gary Cooper, Patricia Neal
Genre:Film, Drama

By Heather Joslyn | Posted

There are bad movies. There are really bad movies. Then there are bad movies so wrong-headed, so miscast, so floridly overwritten as to approach sublime bad-i-tude. The Fountainhead stands with Mommie Dearest, Showgirls, and Plan 9 From Outer Space in the Bad Movie Hall of Fame. Written by right-wing cult novelist Ayn Rand (whose laughably didactic dialogue bears absolutely no resemblance to the way human beings speak) and feverishly overdirected by King Vidor, The Fountainhead improbably presents the sweet, taciturn Gary Cooper as an egomaniacal maverick architect who would rather starve than compromise his designs and Patricia Neal as the spoiled, hostile heiress who lusts for him. (The lust, at least, was not a stretch—Neal's autobiography revealed that she and Coop were torridly involved at the time.) The movie demands that the viewer accept Rand's nutty notion that Americans are prepared to take to the streets with torches and pitchforks to protest modern architecture; Vidor attempts to distract the audience from this logic gap with phallic imagery so blatant it would make Freud blush. (Neal first spies Cooper working at a construction site—sweaty, stripped to the waist, and manning a drill.) The Fountainhead gushes with roiling hormones, Old Hollywood grandeur, and Rand's bottomless contempt for stupid, stupid humans.

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