September 07, 2011

Fountain of what?

Earlier this summer, as an exercise is spiritual self-mortification, I waded through Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead. Regular readers might recall earlier disrespectful posts in the subject.

It so happened about the time I was done with the book that a friend, who happens to be a Jesuit priest, told me I should check out the film version. I figured, why not? After on, once one has wallowed in a manure pit there is no reason to go out of one's way to avoid stepping in some.

Then I got downright curious about the movie version. The novel, such as it is, stretches on for hundreds and hundreds of pages. How could someone get it into a movie?

It turned out that the 1949 film version was written by Rand herself. And, to give the devil her due, I must say she really did it. For all the inevitable differences between a book and a movie, she got the feel of it...which is to say the film is every bit as comically wretched as the novel.

Gary Cooper stars as the architect Roark. He was a lot cooler in Sargent York. He just looks kind of silly over two hours of posturing and swaggering. And poor Patricia Neal, who played Dominique Fancon. She just kind of darts around the screen like some odd tropical fish in an aquarium.

Roark's buildings are apparently intended to strike the viewer with their originality, although in retrospect they are kind of comic versions of the kinds of architectural monstrosities we've gotten used to over the last half century.

One final thought: Rand in both the book and film continually slams ancient, medieval and Renaissance architecture in favor of modern boxes. After tooling around Italy for a week this summer and viewing all kinds of the old stuff, I'll take it any day of the week.

SOMETHING THAT WORKED. Nutritional assistance programs kept hunger in check during recent hard times.

A BLOG OF NOTE. Here's a link to the Economic Policy Institute's new blog.

WORK SHARING. Dean Baker argues that it should be part of President Obama's jobs program.


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