It’s tough to not like The Princess Bride. It’s got something for everyone: Cary Elwwwweeeessss for the ladies, Robin Wright for the fellas, Andre the Giant for the everyone. Not to mentions swamps and giant rats and Wallace Shawn and sword fights and Kevin Arnold and Christopher Guest and hello my name is Inigo Montoya you killed my father prepare to die. It’s one of the few cult movies that deserves all the adoration it receives.
On Thursday night, director Rob Reiner joined Jason Reitman at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in front of a rapturous crowd to talk over The Princess Bride. Rather than MST3K it, though, they instead provided interesting facts about the movie — a real-life directors commentary. Here’s what we learned.
Reiner: Originally, Peter Falk [who was around 60] said, “I don’t know if I’m old enough to be a grandfather.” He said maybe we should put prosthetics on me, to make me older. So we did. We did a test on it. He looked at it and said, “Rob…I look like a burn victim!” I said, “Peter, maybe we do it without the prosthetics?” He says, “I think you’re on to something.”
Reitman: There’s a piece of trivia I heard about this scene. There’s a hat in the scene that [composer] Mark Knopfler wanted you to use?
Reiner: There it is! You see it hanging? You see that little cap there? That’s the cap I wore in Spinal Tap. And Mark Knopfler, who wrote the score for The Princess Bride, said to me, “I’ll only do it if you put something from This is Spinal Tap in the movie.” So I threw the hat in there for Marty DiBergi, and then I was lucky enough to get the guy who was the lead guitarist for Dire Straits. Here, you can hear his guitar. It’s a classical score, but his guitar work is very distinctive.
Reitman: I read somewhere Cary Elwes said everywhere he goes to this day, women ask him to say that to them.
Reiner: Yes, and people have Princess Bride weddings. They have ‘As you wish’ written inside their rings. They do all kinds of things like that.
Reitman: I read that you were in a restaurant in New York once, and one of John Gotti’s men said…
Reiner: Yeah, I walked outside the restaurant, and John Gotti was there with six wiseguys. There was a guy beside the limo who looked like Luca Brasi. He looked at me, and said: “You killed my father…Prepare to die!” I almost went right then! He said, “I love dat movie, da Princess Bride!”
Reiner: The first day we shot with [Robin Wright] was this scene where she gets lit up by the Fire Swamp. Bill Goldman says, “I can’t believe we’re setting our leading lady on fire on the first day!” We were all so worried she was going to get burned.
Reitman: This is obviously all practical.
Reiner: Oh yeah, that’s real fire.