“Do you want to stand alone against the whole world?” Architect Howard Roark is a stubborn individualist. Even after it gets him expelled from university, he refuses to compromise on his modern designs, even when it means his projects will never be built. A newspaper campaign against him seems to spell the end of his career. But the tide turns after he has an affair with the architecture critic Dominique Francon. Roark becomes a much in-demand architect. Even the paper’s publisher, whom Dominique has agreed to marry, changes his tune. However, when one of Roark’s designs is completely mutilated during construction, the architect responds with an act that totally isolates him … Ayn Rand’s roman à clef was a forceful tale, taken to the extreme, of the individual versus society. King Vidor’s film version references Louis H. Sullivan (“form follows function”) and the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. The director’s partisan love of the avant-garde is also reflected in the film’s modern cinematography by Robert Burks. In the book accompanying the 2020 Retrospective, Heinz Emigholz writes that The Fountainhead is an “experimental masterpiece of commercial film”.
by King Vidor
with Gary Cooper, Patricia Neal, Raymond Massey, Kent Smith, Robert Douglas, Henry Hull, Ray Collins, Moroni Olsen, Jerome Cowan, Paul Harvey
USA 1949 English 113’ Black/White, 35 mm


  • Gary Cooper
  • Patricia Neal
  • Raymond Massey
  • Kent Smith
  • Robert Douglas
  • Henry Hull
  • Ray Collins
  • Moroni Olsen
  • Jerome Cowan
  • Paul Harvey


DirectorKing Vidor
ScreenplayAyn Rand
DialogueJack Daniels
StoryAyn Rand, The Fountainhead (1943)
CinematographyRobert Burks
EditingDavid Weisbart
MusicMax Steiner
SoundOliver S. Garretson
Art DirectorEdward Carrere
CostumesMilo Anderson, Clayton Brackett, Martha Bunch
Assistant DirectorsDick Mayberry
Assistant DirectorJohn Prettyman
ProducerHenry Blanke

Produced by

Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc. (A Warner Bros.–First National Picture)

Additional information

Print: Library of Congress, Washington, DC

King Vidor

Filmography (selection)

1919 The Turn in the Road; Lost film 1925 The Big Parade (Die große Parade) 1928 The Crowd (Ein Mensch der Masse) 1929 Hallelujah 1934 Our Daily Bread (Der letzte Alarm) 1938 The Citadel 1940 Northwest Passage (Nordwest-Passage) 1947 Duel in the Sun (Duell in der Sonne) 1949 The Fountainhead (Ein Mann wie Sprengstoff) 1956 War and Peace (Krieg und Frieden) 1959 Solomon and Sheba (Salomon und die Königin von Saba)

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2020