Architect Howard Roark (Gary Cooper) being asked to add a classical touch to his modernistic building proposal. From “The Fountainhead” (1948).

The Fountainhead technical information

  • Movie: The Fountainhead
  • Director: King Vidor
  • Writers: Ayn Rand (screenplay), Ayn Rand (novel)
  • Stars: Gary Cooper, Patricia Neal, Raymond Massey

To sell your soul is the easiest thing in the world. That’s what everybody does every hour of his life. If I asked you to keep your soul – would you understand why that’s much harder?
― Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead


The Fountainhead is a 1943 novel by Ayn Rand, and her first major literary success. More than 6.5 million copies of the book have been sold worldwide. The Fountainhead ’​s protagonist, Howard Roark, is an individualistic young architect who chooses to struggle in obscurity rather than compromise his artistic and personal vision.

The book follows his battle to practice what the public sees as modern architecture, which he believes to be superior, despite an establishment centered on tradition-worship. How others in the novel relate to Roark demonstrates Rand’s various archetypes of human character, all of which are variants between Roark, the author’s ideal man of independence and integrity, and what she described as the “second-handers”.

The complex relationships between Roark and the various kinds of individuals who assist or hinder his progress, or both, allow the novel to be at once a romantic drama and a philosophical work. Roark is Rand’s embodiment of what she believes to be the ideal man, and his struggle reflects Rand’s personal belief that individualism trumps collectivism.