Some movies are forgotten as soon as their theater run is over. Sure, people saw it, but it was just a puff of smoke. However, some movies stick around. Parents share it with their children, kids show their friends, and it becomes a part of the bedrock of popular culture. The Princess Bride is one of those films. It wasn’t a huge hit when it was released in 1987; it only made about $30 million at the box office. But, after it was released on home video, it grew into one of the biggest cult classics of all time.
It isn’t really a new story: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, lots of sword fights, they find each other in the end, epic kiss. However, with iconic performances from a great cast and a hilarious and sharp screenplay by William Goldman that was based on his own 1973 novel, The Princess Bride became more than just a fairy tale. It’s also considered one of the most quotable movies of all time, so, for nostalgia’s sake, let’s revisit some of the film’s epic monologues and quippy one liners.
“HE DIDN’T FALL? INCONCEIVABLE.” — Vizzini
“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” — Inigo Montoya
Wallace Shawn wasn’t director Rob Reiner’s first choice to play Vizzini (Danny DeVito was), but to consider anyone else in the role is simply inconceivable.
“Give us the gate key.” — Westley
“I have no gate key.” — Yellin
“Fezzik, tear his arms off.” — Inigo Montoya
“Oh, you mean *this* gate key.” — Yellin
Andre the Giant is truly imposing as Fezzik. Andre spoke very fondly of his time on the Princess Bride set, saying that everyone treated him as an equal and did not gawk at this large size.
“You mock my pain!” — Buttercup
“Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” — Man in Black
Can you imagine Buttercup played by Uma Thurman or Courtney Cox? Both auditioned for the role that was eventually won by Robin Wright, and would be her breakout role.
“You only think I guessed wrong! That’s what’s so funny! I switched glasses when your back was turned! Ha ha! You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders — The most famous of which is ‘never get involved in a land war in Asia’ — but only slightly less well-known is this: ‘Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line’!” — Vizzini
Iocaine powder may be fictional, but it seems to get the job done in a pinch. Also, if you were a kid and you picked up on that “land war in Asia” joke, you were pretty hip, weren’t you?
“Get back, witch!” — Miracle Max
“I’m not a witch! I’m your wife!” — Valerie
Much of the dialogue between Billy Crystal and Carole Kane was ad libbed, so this is truly a testament to the hilarity of the actors and their understanding of the tone of the film. And the same goes for the line, “Have fun storming the castle,” which has many practical applications in real life.
“WRONG. Your ears you keep and I’ll tell you why. So that every shriek of every child at seeing your hideousness will be yours to cherish. Every babe that weeps at your approach, every woman who cries out, ‘Dear God! What is that thing,’ will echo in your perfect ears. That is what to the pain means. It means I leave you in anguish, wallowing in freakish misery forever.” — Westley
This is truly one of the sickest burns in cinema history.
“Why are you smiling?” — Man in Black
“Because I know something you don’t know… I am not left-handed!” — Inigo Montoya
The duel between Inigo and The Man in Black was surprisingly done mostly by the actors themselves after hours and hours of practice.
“As you wish.” — Westley
Never has one man said so much with so few words.
“Whoo-hoo-hoo, look who knows so much. It just so happens that your friend here is only MOSTLY dead. There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. With all dead, well, with all dead there’s usually only one thing you can do…. Go through his clothes and look for loose change.” — Miracle Max
Rob Reiner would frequently have to leave the set during Billy Crystal’s scenes because he would laugh so hard he would get sick.
“And YOU: friendless, brainless, helpless, hopeless! Do you want me to send you back to where you were? Unemployed, in Greenland?” — Vizzini
This scene truly cemented Vizzini as a villain. Who could be such an ass to poor Fezzik?
“We are men of action. Lies do not become us.” — Westley
Wesley finally meets the Six Fingered Man. It does not end well.
“As you know, the concept of the suction pump is centuries old. Really that’s all this is except that instead of sucking water, I’m sucking life. I’ve just sucked one year of your life away. I might one day go as high as five, but I really don’t know what that would do to you. So, let’s just start with what we have. What did this do to you? Tell me. And remember, this is for posterity so be honest. How do you feel?” — Count Rugen
Rob Reiner and Christopher Guest had previously worked together on This is Spinal Tap in 1984.
“You just shook your head… doesn’t that make you happy?” — Fezzik
“My brains, his steel, and your strength against sixty men, and you think a little head jiggle is supposed to make me happy?” — Westley
The witty repartee between the actors is truly what sets this film apart. While it isn’t entirely faithful to Goldman’s book, it elevates it to new heights.
“Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” — Inigo Montoya
Patinkin has said that Inigo Montoya was his favorite role, and that it helped him come to terms with his own father’s death.
“Since the invention of the kiss, there have been five kisses rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind. The end.” — Grandpa Columbo
What? I’m not made of stone.