As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride

22344069I can’t think of a single movie which means more to me than The Princess Bride. There are plenty that are important – some of the Star Treks, and Casablanca, and The Great Escape, The Thin Man and the Harry Potters and Holiday (Grant and Hepburn, not the other one). Fellowship of the Ring once meant more, maybe, but then Peter Jackson did what Peter Jackson does and retroactively destroyed even that. But the Bride? Book and film, but especially film, this is dear to me.

So this book, Cary Elwes’s tale of the Making Of, was a shoo-in as a necessary book. I had hopes – and they were more than fulfilled. From learning that Sting was considered for the role of Humperdinck (!) to Samuel Becket’s close friendship with Andre the Giant (!) to Bill Goldman’s trials and tribulations on set (” … ” No. I’m not going to spoil it. It’s priceless), it was pure geekly rapture to get such a look behind the scenes from casting to wrap party.

It’s a generous, affectionate book that serves as proof that the movie was made with love and remembered as one of the best experiences that could be had in a career. Throughout, Elwes extols the virtues of everyone involved, and he gives his co-stars room to speak in his book of memories.

Robin Wright: “My theory is that they were so completely tired of meeting girls—I think I was the five-hundredth girl they saw—at that point they were like, ‘Just cast her! Make her the princess!’ They were so stunned, after meeting all the ingénues of Hollywood. That was my lucky fate—they were exhausted.”

Mr. Elwes is just about as modest as Robin Wright is; they were both so young, and had no idea the movie would become the Thing it is today, that people would cosplay them with great attention to every detail and that the Pope would know the actor from “The Princess and the Bride”, and most of the cast probably can’t go a week without a quote being demanded of them. (I wonder if anyone has the chutzpah to ask Fred Savage to say “Is this a kissing book?”) They had no idea that this film would become a hallmark of The Geek: if you can’t quote reams from this film, why, then, your Geek Badge must be a forgery.

There are some wonderful stories in here, and wonderful details. Great literature it is not, ghost writer or no ghost writer – but it doesn’t matter. Much like the film, it’s all heart, and tremendous fun. It’s joyous. “As You Wish”? I love you too, Cary Elwes – thank you.

(Nota bene: the audiobook edition is read by … everyone. I want it. Now.)

One of my favorite pictures.

One of my favorite pictures. Though I still wan to know where Fred Savage is…

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