Kehr Capsule of the Week: The Fountainhead (1949)

King Vidor turned Ayn Rand‘s preposterous “philosophical” novel into one of his finest and most personal films (1949), mainly by pushing the phallic imagery so hard that it surpasses Rand’s rightist diatribes and even camp (“I wish I’d never seen your skyscraper!”), entering some uncharted dimension where melodrama and metaphysics exist side by side. The images have a dynamism, a spatial tension, that comes partly from Frank Lloyd Wright (whose life Rand appropriated for her novel) and partly from Eisenstein, yet the pattern of their deployment is Vidor’s own: the emotions rise and fall in broad, operatic movements that are unmistakably sexual and irresistibly involving. With Gary Cooper, Patricia Neal, and Raymond Massey.

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