Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Flashback Reviews: "The Fountainhead"

Hey, guys. You all remember when I gave that glaringly negative review of Atlas Shrugged Part 1 back in April? Well... you all probably weren't there for it unless you're one of my That Guy with the Glasses readers, but let's just say that someone really took issue with my negative review.

So to put it simply, there's this man named Isaac M. Baranoff. He blasted many people (including Roger Ebert and myself) for saying that Atlas Shrugged was nothing more than a ballot-stuffing movie and saying that it was a bad movie. It wouldn't be so bad, except that he quoted the film's IMDB rating (of all things) as proof that it was a better movie than I and many other critics were making it out to be. And it was implied that he thought I (and by extension pretty much every other poster on the TGWTG forums) hated it because I disagree with Ayn Rand.

Well, I decided right then and there that I would watch the other Ayn Rand movie to test this theory out.

So let's get to today's movie, eh?

The Fountainhead (1949)

Howard Roark (Gary Cooper) is an architect with a great vision. He does not compromise his vision under any circumstances, however, and he continuously comes up against trials that test his individuality against a collective world that is against the freshness of his ideas.

That's... basically it. Though in all honesty, that's the only form of summary this movie needs.

So I'll get the basic Ayn Rand political message stuff out of the way, because I went into this movie promising myself I would judge it as a movie, not as a poltical statement. Yes, this movie gets very preachy at times, and yes, the villains are incredibly over the top in this movie. Comes with the territory, especially given that Ayn Rand wrote the screenplay. So yes, it's preachy, to the point of annoyance at a couple of places.

Okay, we've packed that horse up, so now we're moving right along. So now that we have that taken care of, how do I judge this as a movie on its own?

Well? Frankly, I liked it. Why? Because it's competently made. Actually, better than competently made. It's very well made?

The acting in this movie is phenomenal, which says something for a cast which has a main character who is basically a cardboard cut-out for stuff to happen to. Gary Cooper adds a certain conviction as Howard Roark. I would've found his character to be annoyingly preachy with any other actor, but Cooper lends a certain quiet conviction to his role that is pretty much perfect for Roark's character. The supporting cast is excellent as well (I was especially taken with Raymond Massey's portrayal of Gail Waynard), and it creates a wide range of characters that lend a truly epic feel to the story.

Thus, I get actual attachment to these characters. I was actually interested in what was going to happen to these characters. And that's a major thing that works in this movie's favor. It was preachy, but the only times when I ever felt annoyed was when it got too preachy. It says a lot when I'm able to overlook the preachiness and see everything else about the movie because it's just that good.

So to Isaac M. Baranoff, I reiterate: Atlas Shrugged Part 1 is a bad movie, and it's not a bad movie because I don't agree with Ayn Rand. Why? Because The Fountainhead doesn't suck. It's competently directed, competently written, and excellently acted. And I actually cared about the characters, even through their most blatantly preachy lines. As a result, it's actually enjoyable, even to non-Rand fans.


It has a few flaws, but it's still worth checking out.

This is Herr Wozzeck Reviews. I'll see you guys next time.

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