I discovered the original book many years ago and never forgot it. Then, when the movie first came out I saw it and it has been a firm favourite of mine ever since.
For the amusing back story on the story within a story see this section on Wikipedia. Some authors have a wicked sense of humour. But then Goldman would have to, to write the book in the first place.
It must have the best sword duel (Montoya and the Dread Pirate Roberts on top of the cliffs) and the best revenge scene:
When I teach writing dialogue I always mention The Princess Bride. There are so many memorable quotes from it, it’s hard to decide which is my favourite. For a full list of memorable quotes see here.
Some are underplayed but strong, like this one:
[Vizzini has just cut the rope The Dread Pirate Roberts is climbing up]
Vizzini: HE DIDN’T FALL? INCONCEIVABLE.
Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
And there is the very black scene where Count Rugen and Prince Humperdink are preparing to torture Westley.
Count Rugen: Your princess is quite a winning creature. A trifle simple, perhaps. Her appeal is undeniable.
Prince Humperdinck: I know, the people are quite taken with her. It’s odd, but when I hired Vizzini to have her murdered on our engagement day, I thought that was clever. But it’s going to be so much more moving when I strangle her on our wedding night. Once Guilder is blamed, the nation will truly be outraged – they’ll demand we go to war.
Count Rugen: [snickers, then examines a huge tree] Now where is that secret knot? It’s impossible to find…
[he finds it and the tree opens to reveal a hidden passage]
Count Rugen: Ah. Are you coming down into the pit? Wesley’s got his strength back. I’m starting him on the machine tonight.
Prince Humperdinck: [sincerely] Tyrone, you know how much I love watching you work, but I’ve got my country’s 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it; I’m swamped.
Count Rugen: Get some rest. If you haven’t got your health, then you haven’t got anything.
Really, if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.
And lastly there is my favourite bit. How the phrase ‘as you wish’ is introduced.
Grandpa: [voiceover] Nothing gave Buttercup as much pleasure as ordering Westley around.
Buttercup: Farm boy, polish my horse’s saddle. I want to see my face shining in it by morning.
Westley: As you wish.
Grandpa: [voiceover] “As you wish” was all he ever said to her.
Buttercup: Farm boy, fill these with water – please.
Westley: As you wish.
Grandpa: [voiceover] That day, she was amazed to discover that when he was saying “As you wish”, what he meant was, “I love you.” And even more amazing was the day she realized she truly loved him back.
When I ask my husband to do something he says ‘As you wish’, just to tease me. You know that dialogue is memorable, when it becomes part of our shared world view. As my kids head off somewhere I can tell them to ‘Have fun storming the castle!’ and they know just what I mean.
Do you have a favourite quote from The Princess Bride?