Tuesday, September 22, 2015
PRINCESS BRIDE, THE
(September 1987, U.S.)
It was 1987 and director Rob Reiner was on quite a roll with his second career (the first, of course, being his role as "Meathead" on CBS-TV's ALL IN THE FAMILY). THIS IS SPINAL TAP (1984), THE SURE THING (1985) and STAND BY ME (1986) were already solid hits, and THE PRINCESS BRIDE continued the great progression forward. If absolutely nothing else, it was already proving that Reiner was a film maker that could offer his audience a wide range of subjects and stories. Like Lucas and Spielberg, Reiner proved that his imagination could run wild by adapting William Goldman's tale of fantasy, adventure and comedy. Granted, we're not talking about aliens in a galaxy far, far away, but in its own simplest manner, Reiner gives us a sweet story that's as memorable as your favorite children's bedtime story.
And so, speaking of bedtime stories, as a method of frame narrative, the story begins in the present day when a grandfather (played by Peter Falk) reads THE PRINCESS BRIDE storybook to his sick grandson (played by the child Fred Savage). Because this is the style of the film's storytelling, there are frequently scenes of the reading that are occasionally interrupting the main story when the grandson finds himself confused or bored by certain moments (like grown ups kissing!). And so, as we all sit back to listen to a bedtime story together, we enter the tale of true love between country girl Buttercup (played by Robin Wright) and the farm boy she loves Westley (played by Cary Elwes). Sounds simple enough, yes? Simple, though, inevitably turns to drama and intrigue (in a funny way, of course) when Westley leaves Buttercup to seek out his fortune in life. From there, we jump ahead five years when Buttercup, believing Westley to be dead, is set to marry the heir to the throne Prince Humperdinck against her will simply because he's legally and rightfully chosen her as his bride. Enter now the "Man in Black" or the Dread Pirate Roberts or, to anyone with two eyes and a brain in their head...Westley! Because true love rules all, Westley is determined to get his precious Buttercup back before she marries an evil Prince who plans to kill her on their wedding night in order to start a much-desired war between two lands. Along the way, he'll have the help of several sidekicks, including the late Andre the Giant and a very charming Spanish fencer (played by Mandy Patinkin) whose sole purpose in life is to seek out and kill "the six fingered man" who murdered his father when he was just a boy. As you might expect from a fantasy fairy tale, there's the traditional sword fighting, horse chases, dark forests, ROUSs (Rodents of Unusual Size!) and the battle of wits between men challenged over all things in life that may or may not be "inconceivable"! Danger and drama lead the way to an ultimate (and predictable) conclusion where good will triumph over evil and true love will win the day with a beautiful closing kiss between two heroes and lovers. And of course, it'll all be real damn funny along the way! Honestly, if Errol Flynn had lived long enough, he would have loved THE PRINCESS BRIDE!
Like so many films we've come to cherish, this film was only a modest success at the time of its release (I saw it on a date!). Time and the video tape market of the era turned it into an inevitable cult classic. It's one of those comedies like ANIMAL HOUSE (1978) or CADDYSHACK (1980) that's filled with classic quotes that many of us can remember and repeat when the moment presents itself. If you're a fan, I'm sure you've found yourself at least once doing your best Wallace Shawn impression when you scream, "Inconceivable!" or your best old man Billy Crystal impression when you suddenly say, "Have fun shtormin' the cashle!" Some of us, however, love this film more than others. I refer now to my cousin whom I shall call Nanci (because that's really her name!). She loves, worships and can easily quote THE PRINCESS BRIDE on demand like a paid circus performer! She's been waiting for years for me to write my blog on this film and now it's finally happened. And so, it's to Nanci that I dedicate this post. Hope you're not disappointed, Cuz!
Favorite line or dialogue:
Vizzini: "He didn't fall? INCONCEIVABLE!"
Inigo Montoya: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
Wonder what Nanci's favorite quote is?