Study Guide

The Princess Bride Introduction

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The Princess Bride Introduction

Release Year: 1987

Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Family

Director: Rob Reiner

Writer: William Goldman

Stars: Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin

You want high adventure? You got it. You want romance? Sure thing. You want giants, miracles, revenge, chases, daring escapes, terrifying creatures, evil princes, swordplay, hilarious one-liners, killer mustaches, six-fingered men, life-sucking machines, senile kings, and silly-sounding clergymen?

Weird, but, uh…as you wish.

The Princess Bride framed as a story-within-a-story—a grandpa reading his grandson a book called The Princess Bride—and the director landed the incomparable Peter Falk to play the Grandpa. Falk (remember him as Detective Columbo?) ties everything together in a big ball of adventure and adorableness. The rest of the cast is made up of comic geniuses.

The Princess Bride works—and has become a cult classic—because it has everything.


Even Andre the Giant.

There aren't many genres it doesn't at least dabble in during its 98 minutes, and it does all of them well. It moves back and forth seamlessly between farcical comedy and a genuine, touching love story, and it even made the list of AFI's 100 Greatest Love Stories and Bravo's list of 100 funniest movies. It can make you cringe, it can make you cry, and it can make you…want to call an exterminator to check out those rodents living in your basement.

The movie did okay when it was released in 1987, but it wasn't a smashing success and fan favorite until it became available on VHS (which was like Blu-ray but without the element of even moderately advanced functionality.)

Since then, it's only grown in popularity thanks to its made-for-sharing hilarious quotes, and most American movie buffs love the film more than they do their own children.

It makes sense—most children aren't nearly as entertaining on repeated viewings.

What is The Princess Bride About and Why Should I Care?

There are some terribly funny comedies out there, but very few of them can also be called great films. You might bust a gut watching The Hangover, or cry tears of laughter during a scene from Horrible Bosses 2 (although we'd question whether maybe someone is cutting onions in the row in front of you), but let's be honest—we wouldn't exactly put either of those inside a time capsule and shoot them into space so that alien species can get a sense of what we're all about.

But we'd totally put The Princess Bride in there.

It's hilarious, yes, and at times totally ridiculous and silly, but it encapsulates who we are at the same time. It celebrates the breadth of human imagination, it takes a stand in the fight between good and evil, it demonstrates the power of friendship, and it makes us believe in true love. It makes us laugh, but it wasn't intended just to make us laugh. It's a rich, compelling story with characters we grow to love (and in whom we see little bits of ourselves), and does so without resorting to toilet humor or vulgarity. Not that toilet humor and vulgarity don't have their place in movies, but it's a bigger accomplishment when you can craft a hugely entertaining comedy without them.

The Princess Bride wasn't nominated for Best Picture. It's not considered a cinematic masterpiece from a technical standpoint. But it's one of the most universally beloved movies ever made—and good luck finding any film that's more quotable.

We might go so far as to say that happening upon such a film would be…inconceivable.


One of the original choices for Fezzik was Arnold Schwarzenegger, and one of the first choices for Vizzini was Danny DeVito. But don't feel bad for them. The pair got together a year later to make the movie Twins. Which was almost as good. (Source)

Did you feel like the chemistry between Westley and Buttercup was a little too good to be true? You'd be right. They quite fancied one another in real life, and that definitely translated to the big screen. As to whether they ever rounded any of the bases, their lips are sealed. (Source)

Rob Reiner told Mandy Patinkin that he could have any part in the movie he wanted. That's some offer. We're glad he selected the role he was born to play, and not Buttercup, for example. It would have made a few of those scenes a little weird. (Source)

Wallace Shawn, who played Vizzini, was deathly afraid of heights. He was not uber-thrilled to shoot the scene at the "Cliffs of Insanity," and kinda wigged out a little bit. It was a challenging day for the actor, but at least he brought the insanity. (Source)

The Princess Bride Resources

Check out the official site. It even has Fezzik's stamp of approval. And what a grossly oversized stamp it is.


Are You Obsessed?
Here's a handy quiz to see if you're totally obsessed with The Princess Bride, created by someone who's seen it 148 times.

Rotten Tomatoes
Tomatometer rating of 97%. Wow. That's hard to do when you're not a Toy Story.

Book or TV Adaptations

The Princess Bride
Written by William Goldman, the very same fella who wrote the screenplay. So yeah…he's the one who came up with all that crazy stuff that shows up in the movie. Yikes. Journeying into that man's mind might be more terrifying than picnicking inside the fire swamp.

Coming Attractions
And Disney would be remiss if they didn't get in on the action. The Princess Bride: the Stage Play—coming soon to a theatre near you.

Articles and Interviews

Gray Lady Likes It
Even the stuffy New York Times liked the movie, thanks to the strong performance of the talented cast.

Thumbs Up
Legendary film critic Roger Ebert wrote that this film reminded him of This Is Spinal Tap (huh?), because it was so true to the genre it was satirizing. Oh, we get it now.

"43 Inconceivable Facts About The Princess Bride You Probably Never Knew." Ah…see what they did there?

25 Great Quotes from The Princess Bride
It is, after all, one of the most quotable movies of all time. You asked for a list of the greatest quotes, and we responded…"as you wish."

New Life on the Internet
The film got more popular because of all the snappy one-liners that were perfect for Internet users and their 20-second attention span.


As great as the movie is, the trailer was possibly one of the worst ever. Oh, that 80s saxophone. Who approved this nonsense?

The Swordfight to End All Swordfights
The two did all their own stunts, except for one flip near the end of the sequence. Oh, sure, they do all the stuff with the dangerous, pointy sticks, but shy away from a little tumbling routine. Typical.

NFL Drafts Fezzik at #11
During a 2012 episode of NFL Kickoff, the host and analysts spent the entire show getting in quotes from the film to describe the football action. Someone made a hilarious condensed version. Check it out.

Princess Bride Reunion
It's kind of surreal to see Westley and Humperdinck in the same room, not trying to kill each other. But they seem to have found a way to make it work.


The Lovers

Oh, That Kiss
The greatest of all time.

Three Amigos
They come in small, medium and extra-large.

Have Fun Storming the Castle!
Best makeup job ever.

Game On
Here's an image from the Princess Bride video game. The game didn't get very good reviews, unfortunately.

Where Are They Now?
Everyone got older except Miracle Max and Valerie…

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