The Princess Bride has long been one of my top five favorite movies. So, when I saw that Cary Elwes, who played Westley/The Dread Pirate Roberts, had written a book about the movie, I couldn’t wait to read it. When my Dad asked for the book for his birthday, back in November of 2014, of course I got it for him. And then, of course, he loaned it to me, so I could read it.
I would give this book more stars if Goodreads would let me. It’s that good. I would even go so far as to say it’s one of the best books I have ever read. It made me cry; it made me laugh; many times it made me laugh quite loud.
The story of the making of this movie is pretty incredible. I learned much that I did not know. For example, several people (Robert Redford being one) had attempted to make this movie before, and just couldn’t pull it off. In fact, William Goldman, the author, had even bought back the rights to the book and pretty much given up on the whole thing before Rob Reiner approached him about it. It turns out that The Princess Bride is Goldman’s favorite thing that he ever wrote. It is also Rob Reiner’s favorite book. Cary had read it, as well, and liked it very much. So much so, that he was thrilled when Rob Reiner approached him about playing the part of Westley in the movie.
Perhaps the best parts of As You Wish are the tales about Andre the Giant. My favorite is a bit about Andre passing out in the lobby of a hotel, after having too much to drink. That, in itself, was quite an accomplishment, as Andre was known to drink an entire case of wine with barely any effect at all.
Throughout the book, Cary tells of the massive amounts of training that he and Mandy Patinkin had to go through, in preparation for “The Greatest Swordfight In Modern Times.” Neither one had had any training (well, Mandy cheated just a bit and started training a few weeks before they began shooting), so they had to take up every single spare moment during the shooting of the movie to train. The incredible swordfight was the last scene filmed, so as to give them more time.
The book is very well written, probably, in part, due to there being a co-writer named Joe Layden. Included in each chapter are bits from the various players in the movie, from Rob Reiner and Andy Scheinmann, producing partner, to Billy Crystal and Carol Kane, who played Miracle Max and his wife. Sadly, Andre passed away long before the book was read, so we don’t get any thoughts from him. Everyone had very positive things to say about the making of the movie, with the possible exception of Wallace Shawn, who was so terrified of getting replaced that he gave himself hives.
Possibly the funniest part of the book is when Cary reveals something about the scene where Buttercup has just agreed to marry Humperdinck, and ridden away. Rugen, the six-fingered man (upon whom Inigo Montoya has sworn revenge), hits Westley on the head, knocking him out, and carries him to the Pit of Despair. Well, it turns out that Chrig Guest (Rugen) hit Cary just a bit too hard. “And that, folks, is the last thing I remember from that day’s shoot,” Cary says. It really knocked him out!
I could go on and on about the great parts of this book, but, then, you wouldn’t have to read it yourself, which you really should do, especially if you are a fan of this incredibly marvelous movie.
In fact, I think I’m going to go watch it again, right now.