We already had Ayn Rand: We never went through an Ayn Rand phase. We’ve never read her novels.
We probably saw her on Carson once or twice. That was likely enough.
Last night, TCM aired the 1949 version of The Fountainhead. We watched about half an hour, having watched a similar chunk a few months ago.
Last night, it struck us that this may be the oddest film we’ve ever watched. Offhand, we can think of no other film where all the characters seem insane, and all the events seem impossible.
Lake Wobegon this is not!
(Did New York ever have a daily newspaper with dueling architectural columnists? Maybe—we have no idea.)
As noted, we’ve never read the books; those Carson spots were likely enough. (Poor Ed tried to ask probing questions.) It did occur to us last night that these books may have been a way to be publicly nuts before talk radio, cable and the Net made the practice so easy.
It used to be hard to hear crazy ideas. For the most part, if you were totally out of your head, you weren’t allowed in major media.
Today, lunacy is almost required for such spots. At one time, it was quite rare.
Before we had Rush and Sean and now Lawrence, it was hard to hear total bull-crap in public. But Ayn Rand’s novels were already there.
So was that crazy movie.
According to the leading authority: According to the leading authority on the film, it was poorly received by the critics:
The Fountainhead was panned by critics in its initial release. The Hollywood Reporter wrote of the film, "Its characters are downright weird and there is no feeling of self-identification." The Los Angeles Times said that the film would not "catch the interest of what is known as the average movie audience—whoever they may be nowadays." The Communist-published Daily Worker deemed The Fountainhead to be "an openly fascist movie." The trade magazine Variety called the film "cold, unemotional, loquacious [and] completely devoted to hammering home the theme that man's personal integrity stands above all law." The New Yorker deemed the film to be "asinine and inept.” Cue described it as "shoddy, bombastic nonsense.” Bosley Crowther, in his review for The New York Times, called the film "wordy, involved and pretentious" and characterized Vidor's work as a "vast succession of turgid scenes."All those claims may be true, of course. But what about the fact that all the characters seem insane and all the events seem impossible?
“Downright weird” characters in “turgid scenes?” For us, that doesn’t quite catch it.