Re: Gary Cooper movie info request. (Peter Ibbetson and The Fountainhead) / intellectualism in films

From: David P. Hayes
Newsgroups: rec.arts.movies.past-films
Date: Sunday, December 14, 1997 9:28 PM

In article <19971214035400.WAA11539@ladder01.news.aol.com>, filmgene@aol.com (FilmGene) wrote:
> <<Gary Cooper's character refusing to change his architectural plans does not
> occur in "Peter Ibbetson," but all of the other elements named are common to
> both films.>>
>
> Sorry, David, but initially Cooper "refuses to change his architectural plans".
> The fact that he later relents does not change the fact.

I honestly don't remember that aspect of the story. Anyway, until I see the movie for a third time, I'll not presume to make a further statement on that plot point.

This thread may never have started had the person who made the original inquiry happened to see the Turner Classic Movies schedule for January 1998, posted on the TCM website. (http://tcm.turner.com)

THE FOUNTAINHEAD ( 1949 ) An idealistic architect battles corrupt business interest and his love for a married woman. Gary Cooper, Patricia Neal, Raymond Massey. D: King Vidor. BW 113m.

The description heavily resembles the one posted in the film-title-inquiry. The movie is scheduled for Monday 5th at 6am Eastern/3am Pacific; and Tuesday 20th 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific
> <<"The Fountainhead" is fascinating as one of the most intellectual of films.
> Characters don't speak in an everyday guarded manner, but instead speak as
> if the subconscious motives have taken to words and have poured out of the
> characters' mouths without the tongue having censored the outflow of the
> mind.>
>
> In plain, non-Randian English that means that the film is excessively talky and
> preachy. Agreed.

The dialogue carries the story, the images often merely supplement. This is true of many classics (as well as not-so-classics). Still, the final speech of "The Fountainhead," at 6 minutes, is less than half the length of the Spencer Tracy's summation at the end of "Judgment at Nuremberg," at 13 minutes.

Other movies with that are full of ideas being verbalized: "Network" (with also parallels "The Fountainhead" by dealing with a media empire), "Patterns" (Rod Serling's look at corporate power struggles), "Executive Suite" (Robert Wise's film on that same subject),… might the list go on?

Nonetheless, I found the movie of "The Fountainhead" fascinating when I first saw it at the Vista Theater, Hollywood, at age about 20. I enjoyed the mental connections being made. This is what I was remembering when I previously wrote, "there is so much to glean about the conflicts between and among characters that you realize that you've traded naturalness for quickened development of theme." I had not read the novel when I first saw the movie, nor had I read any of the author's novels.

The novel, it turned out, conveys the theme in subtlety. Succinct statements are made only after a foundation is laid for them by undergirding details; when the villain makes a brazen admission, it comes in a long rant, when he would possibly not be aware of what he was revealing. In the film, the admission remains, but the verisimilitude has been lifted.

Trade-offs are in the nature of film adaptations of novels. This movie chose to convey some aspects of the novel and to omit others--that's usually the case. The 114 minutes of the movie can't fully take the place of the 700+ pages of print, but then many of us welcome movie adaptations specifically because we prefer to limit our time-investment to 114 minutes (or to some other length that can be digested in a single sitting).

Any complaints on this adaptation cannot be foisted upon the usually impugned: the screenwriter(s). On "The Fountainhead," the novel by Ayn Rand was adapted for the screen by the same Ayn Rand.

This latter point seems to have been lost on Steven Scheuer in his "Movies on TV" guide. He writes: "The year's best seller gets carved up and destroyed by the Hollywood knife. Brilliant book about a modern architect turns into a confusing screen play."

As for the latter remark, I'll just say that when I saw, despite my youth and unfamiliarity with the author's novels, I found the theme and exposition crystal-clear.

--

David Hayes

 

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