Lost Classic That Never Was – Part 11

This is the second-last part of You Can Take Your Fountainhead With You & Swing It! In this part we see Gail and Dominique working together to support Howard – that’s from the original film – and we also see Edee giving Gail Wynand, the owner of Devitt Tower, a piece of her mind.

patricia neal and raymond massey
Gail and Dominique are so likeable as they fight their crusade – if only it wasn’t a crusade to save a guy who blew up a housing project because they had the audacity to change his design – slightly.

We’re nearing the end … I think I’m going to miss the little world of You Can Take Your Fountainhead With You & Swing It!. It kinda nice there. If this is your first time here – um – this is an imagined version of The Fountainhead. The Fountainhead was a movie made in 1949 based on a bestseller by Ayn Rand – whose philosophy was basically selfishness is good, never compromise on what you want to achieve. It sounds like an alright philosophy when stated that simply but in The Fountainhead the main character, the hero, Mr. Howard Roark blows up a social housing project he designed because his design is altered, not in any way that would compromise the soundness of the structure, the alterations are merely superficial. So I added in a bunch of new characters to show just how pointlessly destructive his actions are – housing is an issue very close to my heart. And a serious issue for a lot of people these days.

Also I love old movies and it’s been a lot of fun imagining this one.

At this point in the original movie Ellsworth Toohey bullies Peter into going to the police and telling them that Howard Roark was the real architect of Cortlandt Homes and that he was furious when they changed his design. Ellsworth is horrible in the real film. He plays your typical old movie villain who explains exactly what he has done, is doing and why. How great would it be if real life villains were like this? I think it would be great. Dear villains of the world – explain yourselves, elucidate, draw a useful diagram or two where helpful. Oh that’s like the opposite of what you want to do? Oh… okay.

Anyway Ellsworth in this version, though far from perfect – he has a vindictive streak which we see in his confrontation with Gail, is a real friend to Peter (and Ann). His reason for getting Peter to go to the police is to distance Peter from Howard and his criminal acts.

It seems clear that Ayn Rand doesn’t seem to believe that the man who owns the newspaper The Banner, Gail Wynand, can control public opinion. It’s not so clear if she doesn’t believe in the idea of someone or some group being about to control or sway or influence public opinion. Does she believe that characters like Ellsworth Toohey can really influence his readers? Is Ellsworth’s overblown speech to Gail meant to sound deluded or insightful? I don’t know.

I’ve been reading some articles lately about the influence the media has over people – if you work in media I’ve got to tell you – and I mean any sort of media – T.V., newspapers, radio, web, with a loud speaker in the park (people don’t actually do that though, do they?), whatever – relax I’m sure you’re very interesting and very entertaining (I’m a media junkie – and there’s loads of good content out there), but keeping people interested and entertained is very different from actually influencing them. Ultimately people are only really persuaded by messages which strike them as being true. Isn’t that what persuades you of something? That it strikes you as being true? And if nothing strikes you as being true? Then your unconscious mind does some crazily complicated analysis of the different actors and possible actions in the given situation and that quickly gives your gut a sense of what to do – O.K. that’s just how I assume intuition works – And what if instead of your gut getting a sense of what to do it just gets nauseated? Well, ah … then you … what was my point here?

I don’t think people are that easily influenced. I’m a media junkie – and I have been ever since I was able to crawl over to the T.V. and turn it on – well, you know what I mean. So if T.V. and all that were really influential then my opinions should be a composite of all I’ve watched, listened to and read, and yes it plays a part in my opinions but it’s quite a small part relative to my actual life experiences. People aren’t that easily influenced. I don’t think so anyway.

It’s true though that there is a mob mentality which I think most of us can succumb to at different times in different ways. And narratives that take an us v them angle can give the reader identifying as one of the us a great sense of belonging, just as it can create a sense of isolation in any readers identifying themselves as one of the them and in an odd way also a sense of belonging but to a different group… I don’t believe there’s a them in our species – it’s all just us. But let’s leave all that for another post another day. Maybe.

Back to the neverwas classic.

Dominique is really sweet in this part – in the original – working with Gail on the project of trying to defend Roark’s action. The woman just needs a job. Stop her from throwing statuettes out windows.

I really like the scenes with Edee in them in this bit. Especially the last one. I think that this is typical of those old movies – people just being really decent to each other. Except Billie Holiday wouldn’t have been given a character like this to play in a movie from the real 1930s/40s. Which is a pity because she could act. But I guess we mightn’t have so many great songs from her. But still it’s a pity. Obviously.

It is a much better world today really. – I do wonder though if the children who grew up watching the worthy and sweet films of the 30s and 40s, were they the same ones who became the peace and love generation of the 60s? Is there some connection there? And why isn’t there a neo-hippie movement?

Wait am I saying that the old movies were influential? Um… No I’m not. They just contained universal truths. Point intact. 

The neverwas film is set in 1930s by the way – even though she’s wearing 40s fashion below…

And here’s the second last bit:

Chapter 11

And here’s a link to part 10 you’ll find the links to the earlier bits there. Sorry it’s late as I’m writing this.

Louise Beavers and Jean Arthur
Mrs. Dubray comforting Ann.
Shot from The Fountainhead 1949
Howard having a coffee and some chat with the Wynands.
A confrontation between Toohey and Gail.
Of course. I must be boring you so.
shot from The Fountainhead 1949
Everyone is refusing to read The Banner, Gail Wynand’s paper, because they’re supporting Howard Roark.
Billie Holiday as Edee in You Can Take Your Fountainhead With You And Swing It.
Mr. Wynand? You’re Gail Wynand, aren’t you?
Billie Holiday as Edee Darling in an imagined version of The Fountainhead.
Edee stands back a bit and takes a good look at Gail.
Shot from The Fountainhead (1949)
Gail at the meeting of the board.
Raymond Massey as Gail Wynand in The Fountainhead.
Gail walking towards Hell’s Kitchen.
shot from The Fountainhead 1949
The article being read by the Devitt residents.
Raymond Massey
The clock superimposed over the face of an uncomfortable looking Gail.

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