Title: The Princess Bride
Release Date: September 25, 1987
Director: Rob Reiner
Production Company: Act III Communications | Buttercup Films | The Princess Bride Ltd.
I don’t remember The Princess Bride making any impression when it got its theatrical release in 1987, but in the ensuing years it was played endlessly on cable tv. When I was in college in 1991, it was a movie frequently rented and watched among my friend groups. And that was how it became a beloved classic!
At the time I first watched The Princess Bride, fantasy action adventure movies were rather unusual, seemingly old fashioned. And yet it was also modern with self-referential humor that also felt unusual for the time. Years later I would read the original book by William Goldman, itself a classic that bridges the border between spoof and homage to fairy tale romance. The movie proved to be a master class in adapting a great book by capturing the spirit of the book rather than the literal. This is fitting since the book was a parody of adaptation.
The success of the movie is due to its terrific cast. Cary Elwes and Robin Wright, then hot young newcomers, lead the film as Westley and Buttercup and in my mind are forever associated with those roles. Mandy Patinkin, André Roussimoff, and Wallace Shawn play the trio of villains Inigo, Fezzik, and Vizzini (the former two latter become heroes). The real villains are Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon) and his sadistic henchman with six fingers, Count Rugen (Christopher Guest). The supporting cast includes comic legend like Carol Kane, Billy Crystal, Mel Smith, and Peter Kane. And then there’s a framing story with Peter Falk and Fred Savage as a grandfather and grandson reading the story.