Gary Cooper plays Howard Roark, an architect of uncompromising vision. Apparently inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, Roark is a man who refuses to bow to what he perceives as the mediocrity of conservative and populist forces.
When a tabloid media mogul joins forces with a hack architecture critic to discredit his design for a luxury apartment building, Roark finds support from an unlikely new ally, the comely Patricia Neal; a woman as unaccustomed to submissiveness as he is.
King Vidor's thrillingly melodramatic adaptation of Ayn Rand's hit novel notably upholds the aggressive individualism of its source material. Rand adapted her novel for the screen and threatened to disown the film when Vidor attempted to soften the dialogue delivered by Cooper in the film's climactic courtroom scene. Rand prevailed and Cooper delivers the unedited speech in the film's finale.