March 22, 2021
FAVE FANTASY – The Princess Bride (1987)
My love for fantasy films in general is best summed up by the fact that one of the best naps I ever took cost me about $12 when my family and I went to see one of the Lord of the Rings films at the movie theater. I guess I just prefer reality rather than trying to comprehend the nuances of the figments of some writer’s imagination applied to an alternative universe. And outside of my unexplained love for Star Trek, the only other fantasy film I’ve ever taken a like to, and surprisingly in a very big way, was director Rob Reiner’s delightful The Princess Bride.
If I try to put my finger on why I truly love this film, I’d chalk it up to how there is just a combination of several different devices that when put together make it work for me. Not just a fantasy, it’s also a charming love story that is also full of action, suspense and most importantly, clever humor. There are also just too many brilliant cameo roles to mention although I can’t resist dropping the hysterical contributions from Bill Crystal, Carol Kane, and Peter Cook. The Princess Bride is also chockful of so many great memorable catch phrases that it’s just inconceivable!
And for me the music fan, it was such a thrill to see one of my unsung heroes get some long overdue recognition from the title track that plays over the closing credits. The song, “Storybook Love”, written and performed by the late Willy DeVille of Mink DeVille fame, was arranged by Dire Strait’s Mark Knopfler and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song. (However, in keeping with the tradition of crappy songs winning this award, it lost to the dreadful one from “Dirty Dancing.”) Overall. Knopfler’s soundtrack to the film ain’t too shabby either.
Faithful to the 1973 novel it was based on, we have a true storybook love with the film’s vehicle taking the form of a loving grandpa played by Peter Falk reading a bedtime story to his endearing young grandson played by a pre-Wonder Years Fred Savage. The kid’s skeptical behavior about having to listen to a love story and how his grandpa keeps him hanging in there for the action is just too sweet for words.
The “princess” was played by a young Robin Wright in her screen debut. Her gracefully beautiful and innocent character is far from the scrupulous one she would play some 30 years later in the House of Cards television series. Her love interest was played by actor Cary Elwes who has since had a much less notable Hollywood career than Ms. Wright. He did later get to reprise the swashbuckling swordplay he learned for this film by later playing Robin Hood in the Mel Brooks spoof of this legendary hero.
I’ve also got to give a thumbs up to the great roles played by Mandy Patinkin and his on-screen nemesis, the “six-fingered” Christopher Guest. And how could you not love a film that features the cuddly Andre the Giant!
Just like the story within its story, The Princess Bride is a timeless tale that I believe will be loved by generations to come. Watch it and play it for you kids and your grandkids. It’s one of those great films that has something for everybody. A classic for the ages indeed!
As you wish.