The Case of the Princess Bride

 

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Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles.  Doesn’t sound too bad right?

Today we’re talking about the greatest love story ever told. It tells of a love so pure it can be simplified to three words: As You Wish. “The Princess Bride” galloped, soared, and lept into theatres in the fall of 1987 and has left a lasting mark on American culture ever since. So gather close and get ready for some adventure–and don’t worry–this isn’t a kissing movie. 

History

The Book

  • Yes believe it or not the movie is based on William Goldman’s book of the same name. He luckily also supplied us with the screenplay for the film as well.
  • Goldman was a master story-teller. His range varied from dramas, westerns, war, fantasy, horror, and much more. 
  • Movies such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid(1969) and  All the President’s Men(1976) won him best original screenplay and best adapted screenplay.
    • Surprisingly his first try at writing screenplays was Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid.  It was bought by Twentieth Century Fox for (at the time) a record breaking $400,000.
    • In an NPR article he reportedly told the New York Times back in 1979 that “I’m not a screenwriter, I’m a novelist who writes screenplays.”  This of course was after he had already written and adapted a whopping 10 screenplays including The Stepford Wives(1975) and Marathon Man(1976).  He would later go on to adapt Stephen King’s novel Misery in 1990 and co-wrote Chaplin starring Robert Downey Jr. in 1992.
    • When writing his book about the Hollywood industry titled Adventures in the Screen Trade it came with a quote in the beginning that simply said “Nobody knows anything.” Now isn’t that the truth? 

In his original forward to the book he discusses how his father read S. Morgenstern’s book when he was sick in bed from Pneumonia. He describes himself as a boy that loved sports and not books, so when his father wanted to read him the Princess Bride he naturally asked if it had any good sports in it.  His father replied; “Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad Men. Good men. Beautifulest ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passions. Miracles.”

Goldman was able to fool a lot of people into thinking that this was actually an abridgment of a book by S. Morgenstern (who does not exist.) He had so many people fooled that there is a scene that he does not include in the book that tens of thousands of people wrote to him asking him for it.  He had a reply that he would send saying that Morgenstern’s lawyers would not allow it. The scene was the reunion between Buttercup and Westley.

The letter to readers can be found here…..  https://www.hmhco.com/~/media/sites/princessbride/goldman-princess-bride-response-letter.pdf?la=en

Goldman had such a way that he was able to blend making fun of stories such as these while also reveling in the story.

He didn’t know how to rescue Westley when he was writing the book.  When Goldman realized he could not save Westley and wrote the words that he lay dead next to the machine Goldman cried and couldn’t believe what he had done.  This book is very special to him.

Making of

Rob Reiner after doing the Spinal Tap and The Sure Thing realized that people make movies from books and so he thought about ones that he enjoyed and called Goldman hoping to make his and found out that Goldman had been trying for years to make this movie a reality.  Goldman had thought it would never be made into a movie.

When at the first table read which was when Mandy and Andre met and were going over their lines for the scene when Inigo is being nursed back to health Andre was saying his lines really slow. Mandy would tell “Fezzik” faster! But each time he would say it at the same slow pace.  Finally Mandy shouted “faster Fezzik!”and slapped Andre. It worked because Andre got better at his lines and was able to concentrate more.

The entire movie was really shot in England with their base being Sheffield. The one shot that was filmed in LA was the close-up of the grandfather played by Peter Faulk saying “As you wish” at the end.

  • Scenes:

    • The Shrieking Eels
      •  This scene was done in a tank where they used forced perspective to create the illusion of the boat that was gaining on them.
    • Cliffs of Insanity
      • These were done using a combination of a matte painting, a sound stage for close-ups when they climb, and the actual Cliffs of Moore in Ireland.
    • The Duel Sequence
      •  Not only is this an awesome scene to watch because you have Inigo Montoya and the Man in Black fighting but also because in all the sword fighting shots it is the actual actors of Carey Elwes and Mandy Patinkin. The only instances it is stunt doubles is when they do their flips or jumps.  Anytime there was down-time on set these two would practice.
    • Battle of Wits
      • “You’ve fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well known is this; never go in against a Sicilian, when death is on the line!” Is a small jab at the Vietnam war.
    • Fire Swamp- 
      • The swamp was the most expensive.  When her dress caught fire, even though he knew it was going to happen, William Goldman screamed her dress was on Fire!
      • Always a discussion about how much blood there should be. You need it to be good for adults and kids. There was a lot of talk before shooting the swamp scenes about this.
      • The voices of the ROUS’s were done by Rob Reiner with added technical changes.
      • One of the guys in the rat suit had been pulled over and booked and so they had to go and get him out to shoot the scene. (Took inspiration from Douglas Fairbanks movies)
      • After the fire swamp Chris Guest actually does hit Elwes on the head so they had to stop shooting and take him to the hospital
    • Mawwiage Scene
      • Mawiaage is what bwings us togever twoday. It came from a very famous Chicago Rabbi that Goldman could not remember the name of. He was at a wedding when he was a boy and got the giggles because the Rabbi said “A Dweam within a Dweam.”
    • Inigo Montoya Famous line
      • Mandy Patinkin did not think that this line would be as big as it is today.  The line at the time did strike a chord with Mandy Patinkin because he lost his father to cancer. So in that scene it was like he killed the cancer that got his dad.
    • The Ending Credits 
      • Reiner thought that with the kind of movie that it was the best kind of credits to go along with the movie are what is called Curtain Call Credits where they clip from the movie with the actor and then a close-up with their name credit and character name.

Starring

  • Cary Elwes/ Westley and the Man in Black
    • His idea to have the little mustache
  • Robin Wright/ Buttercup
  • Mandy Patinkin/ Inigo Montoya you killed my father….sorry habit lol
  • Wallace Shawn/ Vizzini
    • The Iocane Powder Scene was the first one shot with Wally Shawn.  He was convinced after that first day that they were going to fire him but Reiner loved his performance.
  • Andre the Giant/ Fezzik
    • He didn’t really read so Rob Reiner recorded his lines on a tape so that Andre could memorize them that way.
    • Andre’s back was not in good condition which made scenes like where he fights the man in black and catching the pretty lady difficult.  They had to have doubles, boards, and rigs to help with the weight.
  • Billy Crystal/ Miracle Max
  • Carol Kane/Valerie
  • Chris Sarandon/ Prince Humperdinck
  • Christopher Guest/ Count Rugen
  • Fred Savage/ The Grandson
  • Peter Falk/ The Grandfather

How it was received/ Impact it had on us and others

  • Money
    • The estimated budget for the film was 16 million.
    • They weren’t sure how to sell it because it includes so many genres so…
      • The opening weekend was only about $206,000 and the gross in the USA was almost 31 million dollars.  So overall the film did OK in sales.
    • It really hit it’s stride when it came onto home video and took off like a rocket.

Sources

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