Sometimes you just need a comfort movie for your #WayBackWednesday, which is why I’m revisiting the 1987 cult-favorite this week, The Princess Bride. The Princess Bride is nearly universally loved, but did you know this film was only moderately successful when it first released? Check out the trailer for The Princess Bride and I’ll regale you with some film trivia and reasons why I adore this movie with this week’s #WayBackWednesday.
I adore The Princess Bride. I didn’t see it until my senior year of high school in one of those end of the semester/a couple of days before Christmas do-nothing classes. My teacher gave us the option of watching A Christmas Story or The Princess Bride the remainder of that week because we had already turned in our final projects and class was over.
We watched A Christmas Story first (also my first time watching that one) and then started The Princess Bride. He told us that we should have started with The Princess Bride, but we didn’t listen. We didn’t get to finish the film that week, so I had to borrow the movie from the library so I could finish the story. As much as I love A Christmas Story now, The Princess Bride has much more staying power and universal appeal. Also, if you’re like me and prefer to keep your Christmas movies to the Christmas season, it’s harder to watch A Christmas Story outside that window.
The Princess Bride is directed by Rob Reiner (When Harry Met Sally…) and is based on the book by William Goldman, who also wrote the screenplay. The Princess Bride has an all-star cast with Cary Elwes (Stranger Things, Robin Hood: Men in Tights), Robin Wright (Forrest Gump, House of Cards), Wallace Shawn (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), Mandy Patinkin (Homeland), and professional wrestler, the late, great André the Giant. This is a mere sampling of the cast; The Princess Bride is quite the list of who’s-who. Other notable names are Chris Sarandon, Carol Kane, Billy Crystal, Peter Falk, and a young Fred Savage in his The Wonder Years days.
There are a lot of things that give The Princess Bride some universal appeal. It’s a comedy, it’s a romance, it’s a fantasy story, it’s an action movie, it’s a family movie, it’s got something for just about everyone. Combine that with witty dialogue and a fantastic cast and you’ve got the makings of a phenomenal film. Imagine my surprise when I learned that The Princess Bride had “meh” box office returns in its initial release. It made 30 million in its release on a 16 million dollar budget, so while it made a profit and had overwhelmingly positive reviews, the box office returns were not what you’d expect for a film so beloved now.
I think what I enjoy the most about the film is the care and the heart that went into its production. I heard an interview with Carol Kane on a podcast a few years ago where she talked about the filming of The Princess Bride. She said there were so many times where she and Billy Crystal, and even the film’s crew had to cut the scene because they could not stop laughing. According to IMDB, when Billy Crystal was doing his take, director Rob Reiner had to walk off the set because he was laughing so hard that he became nauseated.
I also get a little sentimental watching The Princess Bride because it was one of André the Giant’s last feature films. André had giantism and was in great pain during production due to recent back surgery, but he never let on that he was hurting, performing nearly all his own stunts and keeping up with the rest of the cast.
Another point of interest that highlights the love that went into making The Princess Bride is the swordfight between The Dread Pirate Roberts and Inigo Montoya. Cary Elwes and Mandy Patinkin both learned how to fight left and right-handed, and the commentary they give about their fighting styles is actually descriptive of the type of swordplay occurring on screen. They were trained by fencing instructors and stunt coordinators, Bob Anderson and Peter Diamond, who worked on the original Star Wars trilogy. The only time stunt doubles were used during the “chatty duel” was during the somersaults. The commitment to authenticity here keeps me coming back for more.
One thing that is ubiquitous when it comes to The Princess Bride is its dialogue. I cannot think of a movie that I’ve ever heard quoted more often and by more people than The Princess Bride. In my own home, “I’m not a witch, I’m your wife!” gets paraphrased to fit whatever situation I find myself in. “I’m not a (fill in the blank), I’m your wife!” gets shouted at my husband at least once a week. As an ambidextrous person, I find it fun to do things such as cooking dinner and switch between my left and right hands while I stir, and say, “I am not left-handed!” When my cell phone or laptop is in need of a charge, but the battery hasn’t quite run out, I proclaim that they are “only mostly dead.” I could go on, but these are just a few examples.
There’s a lot to love about The Princess Bride. I want to hear what you love about this film. The dialogue? The story? The cast? Leave me a comment with your favorite part and your most often quoted line from The Princess Bride. Everyone’s got one.
The Princess Bride is streaming now on Hulu and Disney+.