The Fountainhead (1949) was released by Warner Bros, and is based on author Ayn Rand’s literary masterpiece of the same name. It illustrates the cut-throat reality of real estate, architecture, and the public’s insatiable appetite for tradition and otherwise mundane structures that populate their city and suburban spaces. The movie is full of elitism, pride, vanity, and defeatist attitudes. It is also one of the most beautifully shot classic black and white films.
Its cinematography and set design harkens back to the German expressionist masterpiece Metropolis (1927) in which the world is broken into two social classes: the workers and the elite. It’s cinematography has an almost film noir quality about it; plenty of smoke, hard edges and clean angles, shadowy spaces, and awesomely cropped longshots. Lightness and darkness fight for screen time here and the victor is a marvellous visual blend of hard and soft modern film celluloid.
This film beautifully illustrates the struggle between originality and conventional wisdom not only in the world of real estate and architectural design, but in society as a whole as well. The Fountainhead does an incredible job of forcing us to re-evaluate our thought processes and open ourselves up to change and modernity in the form of ingenious design.