Monday, February 15, 2010
Ayn Rand and her novels are not really my thing, and, yes, I have read them. But they are sort of my boyfriend's thing, and in the spirit of Valentine's Day, I gave him a DVD of the movie of "The Fountainhead," which we watched on Saturday night. Rand wrote the screenplay, which is quite talk-y, even for 1949, and I'm afraid I didn't find Gary Cooper as Howard Roark that compelling. That said, there are wonderful things about it. Patricia Neal, as Dominique Francon, is so young as to be almost unrecognizable. She looks gorgeous, as I'm certain she was supposed to, and wears lovely clothes beautifully. Raymond Massey is more ebullient than I've ever seen him, playing a Hearst-like newspaper publisher who marries Neal.
But among my favorite elements were Max Steiner's score; the clothes (there's no costume designer listed on IMDB); and the cinematography by Robert Burks (who went on to work with Hitchcock beginning with "Strangers on a Train"); fantastic use of shadows and line- looks very expressionistic in some places. There are also great shots of Manhattan that are used for window views: two that stick in my mind are just south of the Pulitzer building on Park Row, looking uptown for Massey's office, and Central Park South looking west, as the site of Roark's forward-thinking apartment house. Also the art direction by Edward Carrere is just right; he also designed "White Heat" and "The Sweet Smell of Success."