In the fall of 1943, Warner Brothers paid Ayn Rand $50,000 for the movie rights to The Fountainhead and for Rand to write the screenplay. On November 25, 1943, she and her husband Frank O’Connor packed their things, left their apartment in New York City, made their way to the train station, and embarked by rail for Hollywood with first-class accommodations. Rand proudly wore a new mink coat that she purchased from Saks Fifth Avenue after signing the contract.the fountainhead movie poster 1949 1020143784

Their return to Hollywood came nine years after they left it for New York to stage her play The Night of January 16th.  With the success of the The Fountainhead and the new movie contract, Rand and O’Connor returned to Hollywood famous.

Never one to take success for granted, Rand explained in a letter to Walter Hurley that she was in Hollywood to work: “I am working as I used to work for Bobbs-Merrill, which means–like a dog, but I love it.” In her journals and letters she recorded new insights into the characters that occurred to her while adapting The Fountainhead for the screen. She cautioned the film’s producer, Henry Blanke, against any effort to take the edge off the characters as originally written: “If they are weakened and diluted, they will become unreal, false–and silly.”

She thought a great deal about how to translate pivotal scenes from the novel. Writing in her journal about Roark’s psychology in the scene in which Dominique, who mistakenly believes that the world will destroy Roark’s talent and vision, begs him to quit architecture, Rand emphasized his quiet heroism: “He could have demanded anything he wished of her, and she would have obeyed. Instead he lets her go.” Rand then adds stage directions for Roark’s  leaving Dominique: “His last speech must be delivered very quietly and with great self-confidence, so great that it needs no obvious emphasis, no raised voice. It is a man speaking with absolute certainty, even when he suffers, and he does suffer here.” Of Dominique’s psychology throughout the course of the film, Rand said, “Her real desire is always to see him [Roark] win.”

Although she vastly preferred New York to the Golden State–”Personally, I don’t like California,” she wrote to Archibald Ogden–Ayn and Frank eventually bought a house at 10,000 Tampa Avenue in Chatsworth. They lived there for seven years.

Marilyn Moore

About The Author:

Marilyn Moore joins The Atlas Society after a number of years teaching literature and writing at the college level. She has a PhD in English literature, and she considers Ayn Rand a great American writer, comparing Rand’s novels to those of Henry James and Theodore Dreiser. As contributing editor, Marilyn is looking forward to keeping you in the loop on Ayn Rand-related news and events.

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