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The Princess Bride is an American 1987 film, based on the 1973 novel of the same name by William Goldman, combining comedy, adventure, romance and fantasy.

The movie was directed by Rob Reiner from a screenplay by Goldman. The story is presented in the movie as a book being read by a grandfather (Peter Falk) to his sick grandson (Fred Savage), thus effectively presenting this novel's narrative style.

This film is number 50 on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies" and number 88 on The American Film Institute's (AFI) "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Passions" listing the 100 greatest film love stories of all time.


The narrative of the movie is framed by a scene featuring a boy sick in bed (Fred Savage) and his grandfather (Peter Falk). The plot of the movie is the enactment of the story as it is being read, which is occasionally interrupted by comments from the grandson and grandfather.

A beautiful young woman named Buttercup (Robin Wright) lives on a farm in the fictional country of Florin. She delights in ordering the farm hand Westley (Cary Elwes) to perform chores for her. Westley's only answer is "As you wish." Eventually Buttercup realizes he really means "I love you", and she admits her love for him. Westley soon leaves to seek his fortune so that they can marry. She receives word that Westley's ship was attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts, who is notorious for leaving no victim alive. Five years later, believing Westley to be dead, Buttercup reluctantly gets engaged to Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon), heir to the throne of Florin.

Before the wedding, Buttercup is kidnapped by a trio of outlaws: a Sicilian criminal genius named Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), a Spanish fencing master named Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin), and a gigantic Turkish wrestler named Fezzik (André the Giant). They are pursued by two parties: one consists of Prince Humperdinck and a number of soldiers; the other, a single masked man in black. The man in black outpaces the royal rescue party and almost catches the outlaws at the Cliffs of Insanitymarker.

Inigo, who is seeking revenge on a man with six fingers on his right hand who killed his father, is left at the top of the cliff to duel the man in black. The two men engage in light banter as they spar with one another, each praising the other as a "decent fellow". In a masterful bout that ranges over a large area, Inigo fights well (and fairly), but is finally defeated. The man in black professes his respect for Inigo as he knocks him unconscious. Vizzini then leaves Fezzik to kill the man in black with his strength, but Fezzik chooses a more sportsmanlike way: wrestling. The man in black is able to choke the giant until he blacks out. The man in black then catches up with Vizzini, who is holding Buttercup hostage, and proposes a battle of wits. Vizzini is tricked into drinking poison, and dies because the Man in Black had actually poisoned both goblets, but he had lived because of an immunity he built up against the poison.

Having captured Buttercup, the man in black says that he is the Dread Pirate Roberts. Thinking he is Westley's murderer, an enraged Buttercup shoves him into a gorge, yelling "You can die too, for all I care!" only to hear him reply "As you wish!" Realizing that he is actually Westley, she dives into the gorge after him. When they reach the bottom, bruised but alive, Westley tells her that the Dread Pirate Roberts attacked his ship, but made Westley his apprentice after hearing of the depths of his love for Buttercup. Eventually, Roberts secretly retired, passing Westley his name and captaincy. The couple travel through the dreaded Fire Swamp to evade Humperdinck's rescue party, but end up being attacked by several Rodents of Unusual Size (ROUSes), which Westley manages to defeat.

Upon exiting, they are captured by Humperdinck and his menacing six-fingered vizier Count Tyrone Rugen (Christopher Guest). Westley, who had learned of Inigo's quest for revenge against his father's six-fingered assassin during their duel, notices Rugen's six-fingered right hand and tells him, "Someone was looking for you." In response, Rugen knocks him unconscious. Buttercup agrees to return with Humperdinck in exchange for Westley's release, but instead he is brought to Rugen's torture chambers, where he is 'prepared' by an albino (Mel Smith).

When Buttercup expresses unhappiness regarding her pending marriage to Humperdinck, he proposes sending his four fastest ships to locate Westley with the understanding that if they fail, Buttercup ought to marry him. Humperdinck reveals that he himself arranged Buttercup's kidnapping in order to blame the country of Guilder and start a war with them, and that it will even be better propaganda if she is strangled to death on her wedding night. In order to make it seem as if he wants his fiancee to live, he tells his subjects that the Thieves'Forest has murderers from Guilder in it, and orders a brute squad to be formed.

On the day of the wedding, the brute squad empties the forest of all but one occupent: Inigo. He is intoxicated and is almost killed, but luckily Fezzik, who is on the brute squad, rescues him. Inigo learns about Rugen from Fezzik and decides to kill him. Having been impressed with Westley's skill in outmaneuvering them during their previous encounter, Inigo and Fezzik decide that their only chance at penetrating the castle's defenses is by enlisting Westley's assistance. Buttercup learns that Humperdinck never sent the ships, and taunts him with her enduring love for Westley. Enraged, he tortures Westley to death. While searching for Westley (or "the man in black", as they call him), Inigo and Fezzik later find Westley's body and bring it to the local magician Miracle Max (Billy Crystal) and his wife Valerie (Carol Kane), who explain that Westley is only "mostly dead." (If "all dead," revival is impossible). They revive Westley, initially to a state of heavy paralysis, in order to satisfy a grudge against Humperdinck.

Westley, Inigo, and Fezzik invade the castle, and Humperdinck orders the wedding ceremony shortened. Inigo pursues Rugen through the castle. Rugen admits that he killed Inigo's father, and they duel. Although Inigo is injured almost to defeat, his sense of revenge rekindles his energy and he kills Rugen. Westley reaches Buttercup, who has decided to commit suicide, and assures her that her marriage is a sham because in the shortened ceremony she never said "I do." Still partly paralyzed, Westley bluffs his way out of a sword fight with Humperdinck, whom Buttercup then ties to a chair. As the party rides off on four white horses conveniently discovered by Fezzik, Westley offers the role of Dread Pirate Roberts to Inigo who, finding himself suddenly out of the revenge business, needs a new purpose in life.

Upon finishing the story, the grandfather gets up to leave. The grandson—having grown more interested throughout—asks his grandfather to read it to him again the following day. The grandfather replies, "As you wish" -- which, as he had explained earlier, means "I love you."


  • Cary Elwes as Westley, the protagonist, a farmboy who is constantly teased by Buttercup, faithfully replying "As you wish", meaning that he loves her, as she comes to realize. Westley leaves soon after they discover their love to make the money necessary for them to marry, but is reported dead after his ship is attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts. Westley, as he later explains, was indeed attacked by Roberts, but when given the chance to beg, he merely bade that he please save his life. Roberts, intrigued by the please, allowed him to explain his mission, taking him on as his apprentice and eventually befriending him, bestowing upon Westley the title of Captain Roberts (which had been handed down by the original Roberts to each first mate). As the Dread Pirate Roberts, Westley returns to Florin and successfully defeats Vizzini's men Inigo and Fezzik, earning and giving in return respect to both. He rescues Buttercup and explains how he survived while journeying through the Fire Swamp to escape Prince Humperdinck, who is searching for Buttercup. However, they are ambushed, and he is taken to Rugen, the vizier's, torture chamber. Prince Humperdinck, being enraged at Buttercup's faithfulness, kills Westley. Turns out he was only mostly dead and, with the help of Miracle Max, he is revived by Inigo and Fezzik, who seek his aid to invade the castle. Westley, still paralyzed, accompanies them and is rejoined with Buttercup, explaining that her earlier marriage was a sham because "I do" was never said. Westley then bluffs his way out of a sword fight with the Prince, and Buttercup ties him to a chair. Westley, Buttercup, Inigo and Fezzik then escape on white stallions conveniently found by Fezzik, with Westley giving the title of Dread Pirate Roberts to Inigo.
  • Robin Wright as Buttercup, Westley's true love who at first teased him constantly; she eventually realizes that his faithful response "As you wish" means that he loves her, and she discovers that she loves him too. Buttercup becomes Prince Humperdinck's fiancée after Westley is reported killed by the Dread Pirate Roberts, who never leaves his victims alive. She is captured by Vizzini, Inigo Montoya and Fezzik on her daily ride, but rescued by a man in black, who reveals himself as the Dread Pirate Roberts, and after Buttercup kicks him down a hill, she recognizes him as Westley. The couple travel through the dreaded Fire Swamp to escape the Prince's search party, but are cornered, and Buttercup surrenders herself in exchange for Westley's safety. She has several horrible nightmares and expresses discomfort at marrying, remaining faithful that Westley will come for her as he promised, enraging Humperdinck so that he kills Westley. The Prince later forces a rushed wedding, but they never say "I do", making it a sham, as a revived Westley explains to her. Buttercup ties up Humperdinck and rides off with Westley, Inigo and Fezzik. Over 200 unknown actresses auditioned for the part, including Kathleen Quinlan and Theresa Russell.
  • Chris Sarandon as Prince Humperdinck, heir to the throne of Florin, he intends to make Buttercup his bride after Westley has been reported killed by the Dread Pirate Roberts. Humperdinck hires Vizzini to capture and dispose of Buttercup, framing their neighboring country. Once this fails, as she is rescued by the newly returned Westley, he takes her back, intending to make her his wife. He is later enraged by her unhappiness at being married and continued devotedness to Westley, and kills Westley. After Westley and his companions try to enter the castle, he rushes the wedding, with neither one ever actually saying "I do", making the wedding false. He encounters a still partly paralyzed Westley, who bluffs his way out of a sword fight with him, and Buttercup then ties him to a chair.
  • Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya, a Spaniard who has trained ambidextrously in fencing for twenty years, he seeks revenge upon Count Rugen for his father, who, as he explains to Westley, made swords for the King but refused to give his prized sword away for 1/10th its price, and so was killed by Rugen; Inigo himself, being only eleven at the time, challenged Rugen for killing his father. Instead of killing him, Count Rugen gave him two scars on his cheeks. He first encounters and explains all this to Westley after his employer, Vizzini, orders him to kill him. After being defeated by Westley, Inigo realizes he is a superior fighter and, having also defeated Vizzini, a strategically intelligent man who can help him get into the castle to take revenge. He and Fezzik seek him out and revive him, and Westley does indeed get them in. Inigo pursues Rugen through the castle. Rugen admits that he killed Inigo's father, and they duel. Although Inigo is injured almost to defeat, his sense of revenge rekindles his energy and he kills Rugen. Having no purpose in life anymore, Westley offers him the role of Dread Pirate Roberts.
  • Christopher Guest as Count Tyrone Rugen, the vizier of Prince Humperdink, who killed Inigo Montoya's father twenty years ago. He has six fingers on his right hand, and it is this detail by which both Inigo and Westley, and later Fezzik, recognize him. Rugen joins the Prince's search party for Buttercup, and after finding her with Westley, takes him to his torturing chamber. After the heroes invade the castle, Inigo pursues Rugen through the castle. Rugen admits that he killed Inigo's father, and they duel. Although Inigo is injured almost to defeat, his sense of revenge rekindles his energy and he kills Rugen.
  • André the Giant as Fezzik, a Turkish giant and companion of Inigo, he first appears as the lackey of Vizzini, whom he annoys with his penchant for rhyming. Fezzik is ordered to kill Westley using his strength; he fails, but not before gaining Westley's respect. Fezzik later finds a drunken Inigo and helps him regather his wits, going with him to find and revive Westley as they need him to storm the castle. He is later key to this, scaring all the men from the gates and helping Inigo get to the Count, as well as carrying a paralyzed Westley. Toward the end of the film, Fezzik conveniently finds four white stallions which he, Westley, Inigo and Buttercup escape on.
  • Wallace Shawn as Vizzini, a Sicilian criminal genius who Inigo and Fezzik at first work for, he is hired by Prince Humperdinck to capture and dispose of Buttercup. After finding that Westley (as the man in black) is pursuing them, he orders Inigo and Fezzik to kill him with their sword and strength skills, respectively. After both fail and Westley catches up, he is proposed to join in a battle of wits. Vizzini is tricked into drinking poison, and dies because the Man in Black actually poisoned both goblets, having slowly developed an immunity to the poison himself over the years.
  • Peter Falk as The Grandfather/Narrator, the grandfather of a sick boy who reads the story to him. He serves as narrator, though he is frequently interrupted by his grandson at moments when things look down for the protagonists; each time he asks if the boy wants the story read or not. By the end of the film, the grandfather has intrigued the boy enough that he asks him to read it again the next day, to which he replies, "As you wish".
  • Fred Savage as The Grandson, a young boy who is sick; his grandfather comes to read him the story. At first uninterested, he gradually becomes absorbed with it (still requesting that his grandfather skip over the kissing, though by the end he no longer minds so much) and frequently interrupts at moments when things seem to be looking down for Westley or the other heroes. The grandson at the end of the film asks his grandfather to read it again the next day, to which he replies, "As you wish".
  • Billy Crystal as Miracle Max, a former servant of the king, he was fired by Prince Humperdinck, against whom he still harbors a grudge, often referring to the Prince as "the King's stinking son"; he resurrects Westley after explaining that he is only mostly dead, and that if he were fully dead, the only thing they could do is go through his clothes and look for loose change. Max also gives a chocolate-coated pill which helps Westley regain consciousness.
  • Carol Kane as Valerie, Max's wife, who convinces him to help.
  • Peter Cook as The Impressive Clergyman, the clergyman at Humperdinck and Buttercup's wedding; he can't pronounce his R's, W's or L's and is forced to cut to the end of the ceremony proceedings by the prince.
  • Mel Smith as The Albino, assistant torturer to Count Rugen, who cleans Westley up and later disposes of him; he is knocked unconscious by Fezzik.
  • Anne Dyson as The Queen, mother of Prince Humperdinck.
  • Margery Mason as The Ancient Booer, a woman in Buttercup's dreams who mocks her for giving up true love.
  • Malcolm Storry as Yellin, a soldier of Florin.
  • Willoughby Gray as The King, father of Prince Humperdinck, who is very kind to Buttercup, and to whom she admits she will commit suicide; he merely brushes it aside as he can't hear her.
  • Betsy Brantley as The Mother.


The film was shot in various locations in Englandmarker and Irelandmarker:

Although Cary Elwes and Mandy Patinkin did learn to fence (both left- and right-handed) for the film (reportedly spending all their free time during the production practicing with fencing instructor Bob Anderson and with each other), the actual swordfight scene between them was filmed using two separate, mirror-imaged, sets, allowing the illusion that they were equally skilled with either hand. They actually performed all of the fencing in the swordfight scene however; the only stunt doubles used were for the two somersaults. This amount of time spent practicing came in handy for Elwes, who later starred—and used his fencing skills—in the film Glory and in the Mel Brooks movie Robin Hood: Men In Tights, notably against Roger Rees, and even going so far as to call out, 'Parry, parry, thrust, thrust—good!'

André the Giant had undergone major back surgery prior to filming, and despite his great size, could not support the weight of the much lighter Cary Elwes or Robin Wright for a scene at the end of the movie. For the wrestling scene, when Elwes was pretending to hang on André's back, he was actually walking on a series of ramps below the camera during close-ups. For the wide shots, a stunt double took the place of André; on close examination, it is apparent that the double is much smaller than André.

André the Giant had trouble with both the speed and clarity of his lines, prompting Patinkin to slap him in the face to get him to concentrate harder. In the first script reading, Patinkin slapped André in the face and screamed at him, "Faster, Fezzik!" It worked.

Billy Crystal's interactions with André the Giant later inspired Crystal to create the movie My Giant.

When Count Rugen hits Westley over the head, Cary Elwes told Christopher Guest to go ahead and hit him for real. Guest hit him hard enough to shut down production for a day while Elwes went to the hospital.

In the As You Wish documentary in the Special Features section of the DVD release, it is stated that one of the few injuries sustained during the making of the film was when Mandy Patinkin bruised a rib by trying not to laugh at Billy Crystal (Crystal was actually on camera).


The movie was initially a modest success, grossing twice its $15,000,000 (USD) production costs at the U.S. box office. It received highly favorable reviews from some critics, including Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel who gave the film a "two thumbs up" rating on the television program Siskel & Ebert & the Movies. Roger Ebert also wrote a very favorable print review. Richard Corliss of Time felt the film was fun for the whole family, and later, Time listed the film as one of the "Best of '87."

Over the years the film has frequent television and occasional big-screen showings. In 2000, readers of Total Film magazine voted The Princess Bride the 38th-greatest comedy film of all time. In 2006, William Goldman's screenplay was selected by the Writers Guild of America as the 84th best screenplay of all time. The film has a percentage of 95 on Rotten Tomatoes, with a Cream of the Crop percentage of 86. The film was selected number 88 on The American Film Institute's (AFI) "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Passions" listing the 100 greatest film love stories of all time. BBC Radio 5's resident film critic Mark Kermode is a fan of the film, frequently considering it a model to which similar films aspire.

Post theatrical release


The song "Storybook Love," written and sung by Willy DeVille, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 60th Academy Awards.

The soundtrack was released by Warner Bros. Records in the USA and Vertigo Records internationally in November 1987. It was co-written and recorded by Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits, the only person whom director Rob Reiner felt could create a soundtrack to capture the film's quirky yet, romantic nature. Reiner was an admirer of Knopfler's work but did not know him before working on the film–-he sent the script to him hoping he would agree to score the movie. Knopfler agreed on one condition: that somewhere in the film Rob Reiner include the baseball cap (modified to say USS Ooral Sea) he wore as Marty DiBergi in This is Spinal Tap. Reiner was unable to produce the original cap, but did include a similar cap in the grandson's room. Later Knopfler said he was joking.

Track listing

All songs composed by Mark Knopfler unless otherwise noted.
  1. "Once upon a Time...Storybook Love" – 4:00
  2. "I Will Never Love Again" – 3:04
  3. "Florin Dance" – 1:32
  4. "Morning Ride" – 1:36
  5. "The Friends' Song" – 3:02
  6. "The Cliffs of Insanity" – 3:18
  7. "The Swordfight" – 2:43
  8. "Guide My Sword" – 5:11
  9. "The Fire Swamp and the Rodents of Unusual Size" – 4:47
  10. "Revenge" – 3:51
  11. "A Happy Ending" – 1:52
  12. "Storybook Love" (Willy DeVille) – 4:24

Musical adaptation

Tony Award-winning composer Adam Guettel spent much of 2006 working with William Goldman on a musical adaptation of The Princess Bride. The project was abandoned in February 2007 after Goldman reportedly demanded 75 percent of the author's share, even though Guettel was writing both the music and the lyrics. Some of Guettel's music for the production has since surfaced in concert performances and workshops.

Rights issues

The film was released by 20th Century Fox in North America, and internationally by what was then Vestron Pictures. When it was first issued on home video, Fox lost all but the television rights, and to the present day Fox remains the TV distributor. Domestically, the ancillary rights ended up changing hands and eventually became part of the Epic Productions package acquired by MGM, so today it is the latter studio that is responsible for most rights. Ironically, Fox (the original theatrical distributor) today acts as distributor for the MGM video library.

What became Lionsgate still holds international rights to the film outside North America, with Fox acting as UK video distributor (inherited from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment).

Home video history

In North America, the film was released on VHS and laserdisc in 1988 by Nelson Entertainment, the latter being a "bare bones" release and in unmatted full screen. In 1989, The Criterion Collection also released a bare bones matted widescreen version on laserdisc, supplementing it with liner notes. Criterion re-released the laserdisc as a "Special Edition" in 1997, this time in widescreen and including an audio commentary by Rob Reiner, William Goldman, Andrew Scheinman, Billy Crystal, and Peter Falk; excerpts from the novel read by Rob Reiner; behind the scenes footage; a production scrapbook by unit photographer Clive Coote; design sketches by production designer Norman Garwood; and excerpts from the television series Morton and Hayes, directed by Christopher Guest.

By 2000, MGM had acquired some rights to the film (as part of the aforementioned "Epic Productions" package) and released the film on VHS and DVD. The DVD release featured the soundtrack remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1 and both wide and full screen versions as well as the theatrical trailer. In 2001, the film was re-released by MGM as a widescreen "Special Edition" and included two audio commentaries—one by Rob Reiner and the other by William Goldman, "As You Wish," "Promotional" and "Making Of" featurettes, a "Cary Elwes Video Diary," the US and UK theatrical trailers, four television spots, a photo gallery, and a collectible booklet.

In 2006, MGM released a two-disc set with varying covers—the "Dread Pirate Edition" and the "Buttercup Edition"--but identical features. In addition to the features in the previous release were the "Dread Pirate Roberts: Greatest Legend Of The Seven Seas," "Love Is Like A Storybook Story," and "Miraculous Make Up" featurettes, "The Quotable Battle Of Wits" game and Fezzik's "Guide To Florin" booklet. A year later, for the 20th anniversary of the film, MGM and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment rereleased the movie on 2007-11-13 with flippable cover art featuring the title displayed in an ambigram. This DVD did not include any of the bonus features from the older editions, but had new short featurettes and a new game.

In 2007, the film was released for download in the iTunes Store.

The film is available in Region 2 and is published by Lionsgate. Its extras are the Theatrical Trailer and Text Filmographies.

A Blu-ray Disc release is scheduled for release on 2009-03-17, encoded in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Special features include two audio commentaries, the original theatrical trailer and eight featurettes.


Beginning in 2007, a new round of licensing began, with several large companies picking up the rights to produce Princess Bride merchandise. Among these is Toy Vault Inc., NECA Toys, and Worldwide Biggies. Toy Vault Inc. has released a line of plush toys based on the film's main characters, as well as the very first card games based on the film. Worldwide Biggies made headlines on various technology websites with their release of the first ever video game based on the film. NECA released a line of collectible sculpts for which they are well known.

In 2008, PlayRoom Entertainment (in association with Toy Vault Inc.) released The Princess Bride: Storming the Castle, a board game based on the movie. The game is for 2-4 players and it is based on the assault by Westley and his companions to the Humperdink's castle, during the wedding. The game received a fairly good reception on board-game review websites and, as of September 2008, got a 6.29/10.00 rating on BoardGameGeek, based on 14 ratings by players. The game includes a comic book adaptation of the movie.


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