(Check out the list so far)
The Movie: The Princess Bride (1987)
One Sentence Plot Summary: Westley truly loves Buttercup and overcomes villainy, an evil prince, and even death to show it.
Why It’s on the List: This feels like one of the those potential favorites that’s a lay-up. I almost feel like leaving this section blank because this just feels so obvious.
This movie is hilarious when it needs to be, dramatic when it has to be, and features an epic romance where you really want to see the two people get together.* Andre the Giant is not exactly a stellar actor, but Rob Reiner deploys him perfectly in this supporting role. Having him mostly paired up with a fantastic actor in Mandy Patinkin probably helps as well. We get great cameos from comedy legends Billy Crystal, Carol Kane, and Christopher Guest. This film also has a really good framing device as Colombo reads the novel to pre Wonder Years Fred Savage.
At 97 minutes, this is a movie with no fat. I could not justify cutting a single moment of the action. I almost think the film does peak in the first half hour when Westley has his interactions with Inigo, Fezzik, and Vezzini. Not only do they each feature great action, but we get to know all of the characters through the banter. Banter between protagonists and antagonists generally kind of sucks, but some writers are just able to nail these interactions. Joss Whedon is someone who does this well, and William Goldman nails those interactions here.
I have seen this movie at least ten times, and it’s one I’ll probably return to frequently because of how breezy and easy to watch it is. When conceiving this list, this was one of the very first movies to be included because it’s as close to perfect as a movie can be.
Cary Elwes and Robin Wright would make the most beautiful babies ever if given the chance.
*Buttercup is a damsel in distress, but it works out much better in a fairy tale setting.
MVP: William Goldman might be one of the greatest screenwriters in history. He is probably best known for this, but he also had a hand in All the President’s Men and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The level of dialogue and plotting here is extraordinary. Rob Reiner does a solid job rendering the film, but it’s the incredible dialogue that really makes this movie sing. Without a great screenplay and actors, this is just a mild fairy tale that generates a few laughs and is instantly forgotten. What we have here is one of the best movies that still holds up nearly 35 years later.
Best Performance: I feel like I could give this award to three or four actors, but I feel like Cary Elwes deserves the honor for his ability to banter with all the bad people and also have incredible chemistry with Robin Wright. Elwes deftly balances his performance, and it’s remarkable that he was never able to really capitalize on this role. This movie has become iconic, but it wasn’t really successful at the time. Elwes banter with Inigo, Fezzik, and Vezzini in the first half hour alone warrants this award.
Best Quote: “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” – Inigo Montoya
Is there a sequel? No, and there should be a firing squad formed if any even comes under consideration.
Check out Ben & Matt’s podcast review of this film for There Will Be Movies.