Recently, I worked through AFI’s 100 greatest films of all time list, I built a checklist and noted the ones I had never seen before. Hey, I’m a little starved for content. Superhero movies are starting to grow old. I can only watch so many Iron Mans. And Hollywood Studios aren’t exactly taking risks these days.
There are a number of great films on this list. Star Wars. Ranked 13. Raiders of the Lost Ark 66. Maltese Falcon 31. Casablanca 3 (This should be number one). Citizen Kane? Number One? I listened to a podcast go on and on about the back story of this movie. I agree it is fascinating. But a great back story doesn’t make a great movie. I hated this film. I feel like I’m missing something.
There is one glaring omission on the list. The Princess Bride might be my favorite movie. Somehow, the story about the man in black is not on the list. This could be sentiment talking. I did watch Wesley and Buttercup’s story home sick Fred Savage style.
I actually didn’t know it was a book until years later when I picked up the Anniversary Edition. William Goldman is a genius. After reading, I came to appreciate how great a job the filmmakers did in adapting this masterpiece to film. This is not just any story. It has a giant, magicians, sword fighting, revenge, and, of course, true love. I don’t think a movie had better lines:
- Anybody want a peanut?
- I’m not sure that word means what you think it means.
- There is a shortage of perfect breasts in this world.
- To the pain.
- You killed my father, prepare to die.
- Have fun storming the castle.
- If you haven’t got your health, then you haven’t got anything.
- And, of course, As you wish.
Cary Elwes, who played Wesley and became the man in black, recently wrote a book on the making of the film. It’s a quick read. I read it less than two days. In it, he remembers the original audition, hanging out with Andre the Giant, breaking his toe riding an ATV, and what a special movie it became. Trained by master swordsmen, it took the Man in Black and Inigo Montoya months to prepare for hands down the greatest sword fight in movie history. I’m pretty sure the Man in Black could take Master Yoda (assuming they both used light sabers).
After reading both books, I went back and watched the movie again. It’s worth doing, you notice the little things. Actors go to great length to make it real (including get knocked out) and real swords were used in the film. You can tell. I was impressed they used real period costumes. I forgot everyone wore shoulder pads in the 80s. Oh, the memories of fashion gone by. Anybody remember why this was a thing?
Sadly, the movie turned out to be a commercial failure. Basic Instinct dropped the following week and made ten times more in its first weekend. But a score of other great films died at the box office too including the Wizard of Oz. AFI 4. And, that’s ok. The world needs more Dorothy and a little less Iron Man.
If you’re interested in taking a deeper look at the Princess Bride books, try the following:
- The Princess Bride: An Illustrated Edition of S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure
- As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride
Oh, and if you are interested in catching up on old movies check out the AFI list.