Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Worst Movie Ever

In 1949, I was almost thrown out of a theater for fits of laughter while watching the drama of an incorruptible architect who blows up a housing project because someone added gingerbread to his design.

The movie was “The Fountainhead,” based on an Ayn Rand novel with a script by the author, that set new records for pretentious dialogue and pompous self-assertion.

This comes to mind because Alan Greenspan, whose memoirs emerge tomorrow, was once a disciple of Rand’s Objectivism, prompting a New York Times article yesterday under the heading, “Ayn Rand’s Literature of Capitalism.”

Over half a century, the philosophy that was heartily derided by both the left and right has become an inspiration for those who need justification for extreme selfishness and looking down at the rest of humanity as “looters” and “moochers.” Money, according to the Rand scripture in the turgid 1200-page novel, “Atlas Shrugged,” is the root of all good.

Among Rand’s moneyed admirers are Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, who have been threatening for years to make a movie of “Atlas Shrugged.”

If they ever do, it could wrest the crown for awfulness from “The Fountainhead,” which can still be seen, usually in the dead of night, on Turner Classic Movies. Those who doubt that it deserves the title can judge for themselves this Wednesday at 1:45 AM.


Dr. Stimplove said...

I watched a documentary about Rand on TV a few years ago, and was flabbergasted by a clip of her equating altruism with suicide. It's a wonder anyone so batshit crazy would be admired by any rational people, let alone someone like Jolie who has a history of seemingly altruistic good deeds. I'm guessing Jolie likes the novel for some reason, but not Rand's outlook on life.

jfreeland said...

Rand's book "We the Living" was pretty good, IMO. Haven't read the others.

Dan Leo said...

I well remember that spirited ping pong marathon discussion of Rand in Newcritics some months ago. I could never fathom the allure myself. All my life I’ve occasionally run into people who would cite “The Fountainhead” as their favorite book, and, sure enough, they would have a beaten-up copy of the paperback lying around looking as if it had actually been read, unlike those copies of “Infinite Jest” that become dramatically un-dog-eared and pristine after page 50.

So one day I gave the book a shot. To me it was like a reading a novelization of some really bad mini-series from the late 70s or early 80s starring David Hasselhoff and Lindsay Wagner. I finally had to put the book down before my head exploded.

I never got through the movie, either, but I remember the cinematography being quite stunning.