“The Princess Bride” is thirty years old.
The film that made popular catchphrases of lines like, “As you wish,” and “Have fun storming the castle!” and “You killed my father, prepare to die!” and, ahem, “Inconceivable!” has now held its uniquely quirky place in modern popular culture for three full decades.
To celebrate, select movie theaters around the country – including Petaluma’s Boulevard Cinemas - will be screening the film on Sunday, Oct. 15 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Initially appearing with little fanfare and a cast of unknowns (with the exception of Peter Falk, an Oscar winner and television legend for his lead role in the series “Columbo,” and Saturday Night Live’s Billy Crystal), the movie, helmed by “Spinal Tap” and “Stand by Me” director Rob Reiner, was first released in October of 1987.
The loopy-sweet, exuberantly off-kilter fairytale was an adaptation of William Goldman’s 1973 fantasy novel. At the box office, the film was only a modest box office success, earning $30 million dollars on a budget of $16 million.
But once released on video the following year, the film was embraced by the general public with the ferocity of an R.O.U.S. (that’s a Rodent of Unusual Size, of course). The movie made an instant star of Robin Wright, playing Buttercup, the fiercely loyal-but-practical almost-Princess who pines for her true love Westley (Cary Elwes, also launched to stardom with the film), a gentle farm boy whom Buttercup believes was kidnapped and killed by the Dread Pirate Roberts.
Mandy Patinkin, in the role of the vengeful swordsman Inigo Montoya, was mostly known for his work in Broadway musicals. Wallace Shawn (who eventually became the voice of Rex in the “Toy Story” films) was mainly a playwright, known best for his role in the movie “My Dinner with Andre.” His appearance as the not-so-bright would-be super villain Vizzini (see the first word of this article) was sheer comic electricity. The late Andre the Giant, playing the gentle Fezzik, was actually among the film’s best known actors, having been a major fan-favorite as a WWF wrestler.
Nearly all of the major players in “The Princess Bride” were propelled to household name (or instant recognizability) status.
Oddly, the same cannot be said for Chris Sarandon, who played the vain and murderous Prince Humperdinck. Then best-known for having given actress Susan Sarandon (his ex-wife) her professional name, he’d had some modest successes, playing Jesus in the T.V. movie “The Day Christ Died,” a vampire in “Fright Night,” and a bank robber’s preoperative transgender wife in “Dog Day Afternoon,” earning an Oscar nomination for the latter. Though Sarandon has stayed busy in small film and television roles, is most successful post-“Princess Bride” role was as the speaking voice of Jack Skellington in Tim Burton’s “A Nightmare Before Christmas.”
All these years later, the film itself has held up remarkably well.
Though there are many (including this writer) who continue to promote Goldman’s original novel as being far superior to the film (what can I say? It’s true!), the 30th anniversary of “The Princess Bride” offers a welcome opportunity to return to a world in which a swordfight is a dance and villains are always vanquished (or at least tied to a chair and humiliated), when wizards can work miracles and fire swamps can be survived, when true love is worth living for (at least twice), and a simple kiss at sunrise is the perfect ending to a fairytale.
‘THE PRINCESS BRIDE’ 30th ANNIVERSARY
When: Sunday, October 15, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Where: Boulevard Cinemas, 200 C. Street