This is going to get me cyber-lynched, but it’s a necessary preface: Whatever you think of her philosophical ideas, as a novelist Ayn Rand was kinda scattershot. She had her strong suits – story structure, scope, management of characters, Dickensian bad guy names (Ellsworth Tooey?) and an undeniable skill for stories of slowly-revealed systemic collapse. But, on the other hand, she quite simply seldom – if ever – cared to grasp not only how actual people behave or speak… but how characters in hyper-real books/movies behave or speak. It’s one thing to have your characters exist primarily as avatars for philosophical ideals, it’s another to have them act like walking speakerphones. Her characters don’t speak, they ORATE in every situation regardless of context.
Which is why it was probably NOT the best idea to have her write the screenplay for the (appropriately wacky) 1949 adaptation of “The Fountainhead” and DEFINATELY not the best idea to agree to let her have absolute final-say on dialogue (though, given then theme of the work what the hell else would you expect?) And it’s also why the only part of the film where the dialogue and mandated-delivery really WORKS is in the climactic “summation” scene wherein Gary Cooper’s Howard Roark defends himself in court for the charge of destroying a building he’d been comissioned to designed after discovering that the agreement that his edgy, ultra-modern design not be altered without his consent has been violated (the book/character are basically a lionizing of Frank Lloyd Wright, if you’ve not read it.)
It still doesn’t FULLY fit – this clearly isn’t Cooper’s natural diction and it’s obvious he (and the rest of the cast, really) are working heavily from memorization. Still, it’s quite a moment overall and, while I can’t really get behind Objectivism in total THIS one speech is one I find to be a pretty fine presentation of ideas I’m generally pretty down with. Taken as a statement of personal integrity in general and the rights of artists/creative people in particular, I’d even call it somewhat inspiring. In any case, it’s been on my mind, it says things I’d like to say better than I can say them, and it IS kinda the only part of the movie anyone needs to see. So, if you’ve never seen this, give it a watch (it’s only about five minutes):
P.S. The YouTube link is the best-quality clip I could find, if you click it and the guy who put it up has other stuff on his setlist that you don’t like I’m not endorsing it and I’m not responsible for it.