Individualistic and idealistic architect Howard Roark is expelled from college because his designs fail to fit with existing architectural thinking. He seems unemployable but finally lands a job with like-minded Henry Cameron, however within a few years Cameron drinks himself to death, warning Roark that the same fate awaits unless he compromises his ideals. Roark is determined to retain his artistic integrity at all costs.
The best they could do with a difficult book
Movie based on Ayn Rand’s book. Idealistic architect Howard Roark (Gary Cooper) won’t compromise his designs for society. He also falls for beautiful Dominique Francon (Patricia Neal).
Now the original novel is brilliant…but over 1,000 pages and quite dense. The studio (wisely) got Rand to write the screenplay for this–I suspect a studio writer would have ruined it. She manages to cut down the book and get her message across perfectly. The movie is also well-directed–full of incredible sets and designs. It has a pounding lush score and some truly hysterical sexual imagery involving Cooper and Neal.
The acting though is another story. Neal is fantastic–the perfect choice for Dominique–sexy, smart and strong. Raymond Massey is also good as Gail Wynand. Unfortunately Gary Cooper is terrible as Roark. He was hand-picked by Rand to play the role–but I think she picked him because she was attracted to him. He’s wooden all through the movie and his unsure line readings are pretty painful. (Purportedly he didn’t understand the script–it shows). Still, the movie survives despite him. I can truthfully only give it a 9–with a better actor I might give this a 10.
Be warned–this is not an easy movie. It’s all talk, runs almost 2 hours and deals with idealism and values. Some people will be bored silly by this but I find it fascinating. Recommended.