Tue
Sep 25 2012 5:30pm

As You Wish: Little-Known Facts About The Princess Bride on Its 25th Anniversary

It's The Princess Bride's 25th anniversary! But before you break out your favorite fire swamp and brute squad quotes, let's take a moment to properly appreciate what is easily one of the greatest fantasy films of all time (and also one of the funniest). Then you can quote it. Or act out the entire Westley-Inigo duel. Or fight someone To The Pain. In fact, let's just instate a yearly tradition where we all get together and recreate the whole movie on September 25. We'll call it Project Dread Pirate Roberts.

The genesis of this gem was simple enough: Rob Reiner's father Carl handed him a book by William Goldman called The Princess Bride. (Charmingly, the title of the novel came when Goldman asked his two daughters what sort of story they would prefer, and the first asked for a tale about a bride, while the other wanted one about a princess.) Eventually, Reiner started making movies of his own, and after successfully helming classics like This Is Spinal Tap and Stand By Me, that book got dusted off and brought to the table. Then it was just a matter of assembling the right team of people.

And it's the people that really make The Princess Bride so special. Here are a few fun stories about what happened on and off set, all of them contributing to what makes this movie stand out a quarter of a century later….

Cary Elwes was chosen for the role of Westley because he reminded Reiner of the swashbuckling heroes of early cinema, specifically Errol Flynn and Douglas Fairbanks. Which is ironic yet unsurprising when you consider that all three actors played Robin Hood at some point. At one point during filming, he told Christopher Guest (Count Rugen) to actually hit him on the head with his sword hilt to get a take - Guest listened to him, and filming came to a halt for the rest of the day while they took Elwes to the hospital. He and Mandy Patinkin (Inigo Montoya) did perform the entirety of their duel (minus the somersaults). They were taught by swordmaster legend Bob Anderson.

Billy Crystal was apparently too funny to work with: Rob Reiner claimed that he had to leave set whenever they shot Crystal's scenes because he couldn't hold his laughter in. Mandy Patinkin admitted that the most serious injury he got on set was a bruised rib, which he obtained while trying not to laugh at Miracle Max. (Bonus book trivia: Miracle Max and his wife Valerie were named after William Goldman's parents.)

André the Giant was Goldman's first pick to play Fezzik when the film was being optioned in the 70s, but he could not make the commitment. As a result, Arnold Schwarzenegger was considered, but he was happily too famous by the time the movie got made. Andre was available, although he had undergone back surgery prior to the film shoot; Robin Wright (Buttercup) recalled that he was in far too much pain to be able to hold her at the end of the film, so she was held up with wires to prevent him from having to take the weight. When asked about his favorite part of shooting, André said, “Nobody looks at me.” Being just another actor on a set full of quirky talent, where no one made issue of his height, made the Giant feel like he fit right in for once.

Mandy Patinkin considers Inigo to be his favorite role of all time, and one can hardly blame him; in the midst of such a hilarious yarn, Inigo's fight to avenge his father is perhaps the most moving subplot of the film. But there's another layer to this tale: it turns out that not long before taking the part, Patinkin's own father had died of cancer. He said that while filming the final duel between Inigo and Count Rugen, he imaged it as a fight between himself and that cancer. That whole habit of art imitating life allowed Patinkin the opportunity to truly mourn his father. So if watching that scene doesn't already make you tear up, it probably will next time. If it already had you crying, you'll be weeping into buckets from now on.

On that note, it's probably time to head home and cue it up. There's always more - everyone has their favorite moment, favorite line, and it varies wildly from person to person... But this is a hard film to appreciate properly in words. It is eminently quotable, but that doesn't explain why it's funny. It has all the action a fantasy film could ask for, but how that action manages to ride so easily alongside wit and whimsy is a thesis all its own. It's heartwarming without pandering to us, which is rare enough in a fairytale, but barely touches why we root for Buttercup and Westley to the very end.

It allowed a little boy who hated stories about kissing to have an adventure with his grandfather, and grow up a little while he waited out the flu.

So that's a very happy birthday to Westley and Buttercup. I hope you all have fun storming the castle, and remember not to go up against Sicilians when death is on the line. And if someone happens to say “As you wish” to you today, well....

You'll know exactly what they mean.


Emily Asher-Perrin is not left-handed either. You can bug her on Twitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere.

58 comments
Taryntula
1. Taryntula
Another little tidbit...one dude with a keyboard did the whole soundtrack. That just makes it more awesome!
Taryntula
2. a1ay
"One dude"? "One dude"? That was Mark Knopfler! Ah, hell, you're probably too young to know who that is...
Taryntula
3. arixan
There is a story in one of the anniversary editions that as an actor I just love. As Mandy and Andre were running through the scene where they decide to recruit the Man in Black, Mr. Patinkin decides that Andre the Giant is not giving the scene enough "energy." Mandy goes over the scene agin, but first slaps the mess out of Andre.

And the room goes silent...

And Andre gets it. the scene, like most others goes on to be classic.
E M
4. herewiss13
Also: Andre the Giant was apparently illiterate. Reiner read off his dialogue onto a tape cassette and Andre memorized by listening to it. Of course, I can't recall where I saw that now. Hope it's not made up.
Taryntula
5. Pansy
Love this movie and I don't care how many times I've seen Andre throw that rock I still jump every time! They all did a wonderful job and I think my family could quote most of the lines, thats the fun part as you are watching is to say the line before the actor!
Taryntula
6. songbird47
herewiss13: Wikipedia says he was a good student but dropped out after the eighth grade to go work on the farm.
James Whitehead
7. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
Saw this with my friends when it came out & we missed the first 5 minutes so the whole Westley as the man in black did surprise me. ;-)

According to the soundtrack liner notes (yes, I do read them), Mark Knopfler only agreed to do the music if Rob Reiner put the hat he wore in This Is Spinal Tap in some part of the mvoie. Reiner doesn't have it still & has to fake something as he doesn't want Knopfler not to do it. Knopfler's comments in the liner notes? "I was only kidding about the hat.

Kato

PS @2a1ay, kids today...
Taryntula
8. tolladay
If you love the movie, buy the book. Really. The latest one is the 30th anniversary edition (I think). In this case, the more recent the better as half the fun is all the side tracks that Goldman takes with the story about making the story. Just don't believe any of it.
Taryntula
9. PDamian
I have always loved the blurb on the back of the paperback edition of the book: "What happens when the most beautiful princess in the world marries the most handsome prince in the world -- and he turns out to be a son-of-a-bitch?"
Ian Tregillis
10. ITregillis
This is one of my all-time favorite movies. Even after 25 years it still makes me tear up. I will drop everything whenever I come across a showing of The Princess Bride.
Taryntula
11. TcByrd
@PDamien:
That quote got me in trouble in high school when a teacher read it off the back as I was reading the book. I wasn't allowed to bring it back to classes. Still makes me roll my eyes.
Taryntula
12. pwiest
mauwage , mauwage is what bwings us togetha today. That Bwessed awangement,that dweam within a dweam
Liz J
13. Ellisande
This movie's one of my favorites always!

And any fan who hasn't seen them should check out the Entertainment Weekly reunion photos of the cast. They're fantastic. I'm pretty sure Robin Wright and Cary Elwes have somehow gotten more attractive in the last 25 years. They're bathing in unicorn blood or something.
Taryntula
14. Yerdok
Andre wasn't illiterate. French was his first language, and his English never got beyond colloquial speaking.
Taryntula
15. Dr. Billy Kryger
When I proposed to my wife her response was, "As you wish".
Marcus W
16. toryx
My wife and I actually had the officiant at our wedding start the ceremony with the "Mauwage... mauwage is what bwings us togetha today. That Bwessed awangement, that dweam within a dweam..." quote. None of the guests expected it and we all had a great laugh together at the start of the ceremony.

Good times.
Deana Whitney
17. Braid_Tug
Ahw... I wish we had more movies like this.
But NOT a remake. God does Hollywood know how to ruin a good movie.

Such a great book too!

My husband really wanted the judge to say "Marrawage" during the cermoney, but she wouldn't do it.
Taryntula
18. J Town
My all time favorite movie. 25 years already... Wow!
Taryntula
19. ej
My most favorite movie! I don't even know how many times I've seen it, but I can still watch it over and over.
Rob Munnelly
20. RobMRobM
@8 - agree that the book is hilarious, even funnier than the movie (if that is at all possible).

The kid/grandpa scenes in the movie purport to be Goldman and his grandfather, but the book has additional discussions of his attempts to find the out of print S. Morganstern classic and get his spoiled teenage son (Goldman's child with his overly analytical, psychiatrist/psychologist wife) to read it. He succeeds but the son is overwhelmed by pages and pages on the history, politics, economics etc of Florin and Guilder - which brings Goldman to the realization that his grandfather only read him "the good parts." Hence this is the "good parts" edition of the tale. Brilliant, funny stuff.

And for those too young to note, Goldman is/was really hot stuff. Screenwriter for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and numerous other award-winning films; author of several best selling thrillers (Marathon Man, Magic, etc.)
Scott Silver
21. hihosilver28
I do love this movie, and it only gets better each time I watch it. It's like putting on that old sweatshirt that you only wear around the house...so warm and comforting. Also, not to turn this into a quote fest, but here are some of my favorites (and most repeated)

"Inconceivable!"
"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

"Let me explain...No, there is too much. Let me sum up."

"You fell victim to one of the classic blunders - The most famous of which is "never get involved in a land war in Asia" - but only slightly less well-known is this: "Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line"!"

"There is a shortage of perfect breasts in the world. It would be a pity to damage yours."

"Surrender."
"You wish to surrender to me? Very well then, I accept."

And with that hope everyone has a wonderful day remembering one of the greatest movies.
alastair chadwin
22. a-j
First saw this on video back in the '80s. I was still at home at the time and when my mother came back from a course she was doing and my brother got back from school, I was about 3/4 of the way through. I insisted that they sit down and watch the whole thing from the beginning. It is still a favourite with all three of us.

SPOILER

I still remember the moment when we all gasped in unison when Inigo got stabbed.
Lani Gallimore
23. evilminion
@tolladay

Are you saying it was all fiction? All that stuff about trying to find the book for his son's birthday and get him to read it was made up? And how this was the book that ignited Goldman's love of fiction and basically lead him on the path to becoming a writer. If that is true I'm actually a little sad now. :(

And while yes I'm a huge fan of the movie, I must say that this is my all time favorite book! It has everything, twue luv, princesses, dueling, pirates, death, tortue, kidnapping, rescues, monsters, heroes, magic, war, comedy, drama, romance, fantasy. If you haven't read it, you are missing out.
Taryntula
24. jtc
My favorite bit of trivia is from the extras on the anniversary DVD. Robin Wright says that when they were filming the screeching eels scene, it was nighttime and quite cold, and the fact that she was wet for most of it meant that she was freezing. Andre saw her shivering, and so in between takes, he would cup her head in his giant hand to help keep her warm. As Wright is telling this story, she gets very choked up.
Michael Walsh
25. MichaelWalsh
The book is wonderful. The hardcover (which was remaindered!) and the first paperback edition have the "original" story in black ink, while the comments of Goldman are in red ink.
Taryntula
26. kdhturner
Saw this in the theater in college with my roomate. I fell in love with this movie. It also gave me my five minutes of fame. When Inigo got stabbed by Count Rugen, the whole theater was silent. My roomate cried out "Oh no!", and I said "Inconceivable!" The whole theater burst out laughing. Brings a smile to my face even 25 years later. :)
Taryntula
27. Dread Pirate Robert
@KatoCrossesTheCourtyard The USS Enterprise hat Reiner wore in This Is Spinal Tap (or an identical one, if not the original) is on a shelf in Fred Savage's bedroom, as per Mark Knopfler's request.
Philip Wardlow
28. PhilipWardlow
"No more rhymes now, I mean it!" "Anybody want a peanut?" ........I so love the humor of this movie...it helped shaped me into the smart ass I am today...!
Taryntula
29. RobinC
I loved that book. My mom read it with me, multiple times, when I was in the third grade. By fourth grade and for years (!) after, I was combing every library in LA that I could ride my bike to or get my mom to drive me to trying to find the "original" long version. I even wrote to the Library of Congress (no response). I was nearly out of high school before I finally "got it" and was crushed that I would never be able to read the full story. (Yes, well, no one ever claimed I was the brightest crayon in the box.) My mom was pretty ticked I made her waste all that gas for all those years, too. But the movie made up for everything.
Taryntula
30. mikers123
One dude? No. The soundtrack was written and performed by the great Mark Knopfler, lead singer, guitarist and one of the songwriters for the 70s Rock group Dire Straits and Keyboardist Guy Fletcher (also of Dire Straits) and a team of amazing musicians. If you don't know Knopfler, you need to look him up on Youtube, man.
Taryntula
31. Bizzy
PB became an unofficial theme for our wedding four years ago. We actually chose our pastor because, of all the pastors we knew, he was the greatest thespian. At our request he opened our ceremony with the "mawwiage" line. And the WHOLE audience laughed! It was magical.
Alan Brown
32. AlanBrown
Wow, everyone has such personal stories connected with this story, so I'll add mine.
It was 1977, and my wife had been wheeled out of sight for an emergency caesarean. Not knowing what to do with myself, I saw a table of used books in the waiting room. One of them was a paperback of The Princess Bride. I recognized the name of Mr. Goldman from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. And I enjoy fantasies, so I picked it up and started to read. I never got further along than the first page, which I read somewhere between a dozen and a hundred times, repeatedly getting lost and starting over. Finally, a nurse told me I had a son, and I stuck the book in my jacket pocket. Days later, I found it again, and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Ten years later, we took my son to see the movie in the cinema, and the whole family fell in love with it. Those were the early days of VHS, and we bought a tape, and wore it out watching it again and again. So I told my son the story of how I first encounted The Princess Bride, and suggested that there was some sort of magical synchronicity regarding his birth that made it inevitable he would love the story.
(PS My only complaint about the movie regards the music, which was quite excellent. But I truly wish it was given an orchestral treatment, not just played on a cheesy synthesizer. What sounded ironic back then just grates on my nerves now.)
Taryntula
33. FSilvermane
Since this thread seems to generate the "My Princess Bride Story" I shall add mine to the pile. I have always liked fantasy movies and sword fight movies and from an early age would recreate them with a stick for a sword . In HS I was a Theater Geek and a bit of a Class Jester and once I saw the movie I became even worse by quoting the lines. In our theater class my usual "partners in crime" for silliness were Brian and Jeff, and since we were all Movie/Book fans we had quite a time quoting movies and books in class . Halfway through Theater I the teacher decided to get everyone shirts made since our school wanted all the Clubs and such to have shirts for when we had Pep Rallys and such. We all pay our money and she orders the shirts , few weeks later they arrive and she hands them out leaving Brian,Jeff, and myself till last. Each person gets a T-shirt with their name on it except us,.... Brian's says "Vizzinni" ,...Jeff's said "Fezzig" ,..and mine said "Inigo" . I still have my shirt to this day . Odd thing is after HS I went on to be a stage fighter/actor at Medieval Faires and Pirate Festivals and PB is on my list for mvoies to watch before a show or when I am trying to "get into the sword fighter mindset",.....
Taryntula
34. sam kusnetz
the author mentions that carey elwes was cast because of his similarity to errol flynn and douglas fairbanks, and then says it's ironic that all three men played robin hood.

ironic? i do not think it means what you think it means.

irony is where there is a juxtaposition between intention and seeming intention. i think what you might have meant is coincidence... except that it's no coincidence at all. if elwes is reminiscent of flynn, it makes perfect sense that he would be cast as robin hood!
Taryntula
35. christineosity
I loved the book...but definitely not as much as the movie. It was all Buttercup's fault. She was just horrible and I didn't see why Westley would even want to be with her. But pretty much anything that happened between Inigo and Fezzik was incredible.
James Whitehead
36. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
@34sam kusnetz, don't forget that Elwes was chosen to be Robin Hood because he could speak with an English accent.

Kato
Taryntula
37. Sydnie
As a 17 year old who has been in love with most 80s movies as long as i can remember this is one of my all time favorites. And the book even better. This is one of the very few movies that stick to most of the things in the book. So happy 25th birthday to The Princess Bride and may you bring joy to many future generations.
Dave Bell
39. DaveBell
@36 Kato, Cary Elwes is English, from an old-established family. His Great Grandfather was Gervase Elwes, who worked with Percy Grainger, who collected a folk song called Steeleye Span. Everything is connected...
Taryntula
40. sangerinde
@evilminion & @RobinC:

I fell for the book's fictional premise hook, line & sinker too, and even wrote to the publisher at the address provided in the book--duly providing a SASE--to get the supposedly omitted "reunion scene." A couple of years later, after it had been well and truly forgotten, I got a fat envelope addressed to myself in my own handwriting, and thought, WTF is this? Well, it was NOT the reunion scene: it was 5-6 more pages of Goldman's hilarious whoppers about S. Morgenstern's estate and his lawyers and on and on. I stuck it in my ratty paperback copy and still have it all these years later. Awesome.
James Whitehead
41. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
@39DaveBell, I know that Elwes is English. I was stealing his line from Robin Hood: Men in Tights. ;-)

Kato
Taryntula
42. ~dream
The Princes Bride is my favorite movie of all time. When my "twue wove" husband and I were dating, the first present he gave me was the soundtrack. My engagement ring came with the movie on VHS. Since we wore out the VHS tape, we've had several copies on DVD and now Blu-Ray. We've given lots away as gifts, and I even sent one overseas to my nephew when he was deployed to Iraq. Our son had the entire script memorized when he was 2 years old. Even when he was as young as six months old, he would watch the movie entranced and spellbound--until the ROUS showed up.
Taryntula
43. Indiana Jim
Lends new weight to, "I want my father back, you son of a b&*ch!"

Wow.
Taryntula
44. ypdmd
After getting engaged to my wife, and then discovering she had never seen the movie, one of the first things we did was sit down and watch it together. 12 years later, she bought me this T-shirt for my birthday!
Taryntula
45. Copper
Definitely my favorite movie of all time (and to think it's younger than I am *laughs*). Now and again, I'll get a lot of flack for liking it (and it's mostly from younger folks), but in my opinion, this is one of the greatest movies of all time, just because of everything that's included in it. I swear, you can walk into a room of gamers or geeks, drop *one* line and you're gone for the next hour.

And while my PB stories aren't nearly as magical, I had a friend whom I was meeting at a romance author's convention for the first time who I had found out had never seen the movie, so I brought my copy with me on the trip down (from PA to NOLA) and when I presented it to her, it was with some sweets, too. "Something every romance fan needs: Chocolate and a happy ending!" She took it home with her and I got it back about a month later with a note about how much she loved it.

And that makes me think of another thing: It's one of the few movies that I had no issue recommending to anyone when they were looking for something to get grandkids or young children. Sure, there are some scary elements, but they're not over the top. This truly is a timeless tale for anyone who watches it.
Taryntula
46. Dr. Thanatos
My story:

My wife andI went to a Mandy Patinkin concert in Richmond maybe 15 years ago. Being big fans both of him and the movie, we were doing The Line over and over on the way to the concert. After about 90 minutes of nonstop singing (English and Yiddish, no less) he asked if there were colleges in Richmond. He then said that he ended every performance in a college town the same way. He did a backflip, landing facing the audience in the Inigo pose, and declaimed that his name was Inigo Montoya, that we had killed his father, and that we should prepare to die. We found out afterwards that his health was off (an eye disorder, if I recall) but he did the stunt perfectly. The house went wild. What an amazing dude.
Taryntula
47. Girl Detective
I once saw a license plate that read "TU BLAVE"
Taryntula
48. cleo
@christineosity - I'm with you on Buttercup. I just re-read the book and I'd forgotten (or maybe I was too young to notice) what an annoying, wimpy character she is. In fact, I think all of the women in the book are disappointing.
Taryntula
49. Elizabeth Bouchard
The most awesome movie ever! I used to play a lot of World of Warcraft and sometimes while in a raid, some one would quote, via Vent, one of the lines, which of course let to many other quotes, and well....we'de wipe every time! LOL!
Taryntula
50. Mad Dragon
My wife and I love this movie, it was filmed over here in England, and we were both lucky enough to meet Sword Master Bob Anderson (at different times)...I met him just a few months before he sadly passed away. We quote the movie to the Nth degree and my wife bought me the DVD as a Valentines gift. Great Movie.......well, that's me done..."Have fun storming the castle!!"
Taryntula
51. HelenS
My first boyfriend, who was a natural actor, read large swaths of The Princess Bride to me -- and this was BEFORE the movie came out, so you know how cool he had to have been.
Taryntula
52. John S. Harvey
Wonderful movie! But the book is so much better. Enjoy them both! :-)
Taryntula
53. Sue Bursztynski
How time flies! 25 years already? It's great how many people know what you're referring to when you quote a line. My brother and I go to any showing at the Astor, our local re-run cinema. It's an all-time favourite which he has now introduced to his son. I remember one friend who rang me to apologise for not coming over, as she was too tired."But we've hired The Princess Bride," I said, and she replied,"I'll be there in half an hour."
Taryntula
54. Galadriel
Thank you all so much for sharing your stories, and thanks to Emily for a wonderful article. Reading all this was a perfect tribute to one of my favorite movies, one of the first which proved that fantasy films did not have to suffer from "fantasymovieitis" (ie: being badly written and acted, taking itself too seriously, having no heart, low production values, etc). Amusing to think that when I first saw it, I figured it would be one of those obscure, forgotten cult hits that I enjoyed but no one else would've heard of. Inconceivable to think that now!! And if Cary didn't melt your heart with "As you wish"... and Mandy didn't ignite it with THE BEST-DELIVERED LINE EVER!!, well then, you are simply inhuman, and I pity you -- go live in a fire swamp, or go back to your home planet. Happy 25th to a gloriously silly, fun film that connects us all!

@Indiana Jim: How right you are... @Emily: yes indeed, I will cry buckets next time.
Taryntula
55. Meri
I never knew the aniversery date before. People: that's my brithday!!! Am I lucky or what?!?!?

ps, I think my favorite part has got to be either the swordfight sccene, or how buttercup defends westley...to westley.
Taryntula
57. Linda Weaver
Every day when my husband leaves for work, I say to him: "Have fun storming the castle!"
Taryntula
58. Jodi J.
I saw the movie when it came out (and many times since). When I got home, I told my brothers that they HAD to see it. "I don't like chick flicks!" they said. "Revenge, sword fighting, a giant. You're right, it's a chick flick" I said. Which made them want to see it. Of course, they loved it. Robin Wright didn't hurt either. Personally, Cary Elwes was my eye candy. His chemistry with Robin Wright is perfect! And I said, "As you wish..." about an hour ago.
Taryntula
59. ValeriePaige
I love this movie... And the book even more...
My friend and I quote this movie to each other all the time. Right now I am trying to get my family to watch the movie. All my little sister will say is "It's too girly... It's about a princess!"

Subscribe to this thread

Receive notification by email when a new comment is added. You must be a registered user to subscribe to threads.
Post a comment