The Intellectual Activist
An Objectivist Review
Ayn Rand ‘s Work in Movies
Categories: Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand was a noted novelist and philosopher that created the objectivist movement. Movies have been based on her literary works and more are planned. However, many do not realize that Rand also worked as a screenwriter, playwright, editor, and even an actress before finding
success in her literary works.

Her Hollywood Start

Rand moved to Hollywood and worked a series of odd jobs while writing. She was discovered during a chance meeting with famed director Cecil B. DeMille who gave her an acting job in one of his films. This led to work as a screenwriter. Rand wrote the screenplay for the film Love Letters. The film was a success and was nominated for several Academy Awards (Britting, 2004).

Rand also authored a play that was produced first in Hollywood and then on Broadway called Night of January 16th, a courtroom drama. The play was extremely creative as it incorporated members of the audience as the jury. Depending on the jury’s verdict, one of two endings would be performed (Heller, 2009).

Onward and Upward

Rand wrote the screenplay for her novel The Fountainhead which was made into a movie starring Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal. While the film was not a critical success at first, it propelled sales of Rand’s novel. Recent reviews of the film have been more positive. This experience made Rand grow wary of having her other works translated into cinematic form. She insisted on having final approval over scripts, editing, and production when she sold rights to her other works which made the process of attempting to have other films made almost impossible. (Burns, 2009).

Long after her death, Rand’s most popular novel Atlas Shrugged was split into three films, Atlas Shrugged Part I, Atlas Shrugged Part II, and Atlas Shrugged Part III. The films were released in 2011, 2012, and 2014. Reviews for all three films were overwhelmingly negative. They did not perform well at the box office either. Recently the owner of the film rights for the novel has stirred up rumors of reworking it into a new feature film that will breathe new life into the classic and give it the kind of cinematic treatment it deserves (Winfrey, 2015).

Her Own Movie

Ms. Rand’s life received the Hollywood treatment in 1999. Helen Mirren played Ayn Rand in this film, The Passion of Ayn Rand, for which she received an Emmy Award. Peter Fonda played her husband Frank Conner. His performance won him a Golden Globe award. The film was successful, liked by critics and audiences. It took an in-depth look into Rand’s life, her marriage, and her long-term affair with Nathaniel Branden. It was based on a book written by Nathaniel’s young wife Barbara (Kronke, 1999).

Rand was immensely talented in a variety of writing forms. Her literary works have been translated as great plays and movies alike. While her most famous work Atlas Shrugged was not widely successful as a film in its first outing, a new update is planned. Rand’s words have captivated the masses for nearly a century and deserve to be highlighted properly on the silver
screen.

References:
Britting, J. (2004). Ayn Rand. New York: Overlook Duckworth.
Burns, J. (2009). Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right New York: Oxford
University Press.
Heller, A. (2009). Ayn Rand and the World She Made. New York: Doubleday.
Winfrey, G. (2015). The Huge Ayn Rand Fan Behind the Latest Atlas Shrugged Film. Retrieved
from https://www.inc.com/graham-winfrey/why-atlas-shrugged-is-getting-the-hollywood-
treatment-after-3-movies.html

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