Rob Reiner’s classic fantasy movie The Princess Bride (based on William Goldman’s immortal novel) is 30 years old this month. Despite being only a modest success at the box office on its release, the film found a cult following on VHS and has since earned its rightful place as a bona fide classic; filled with exciting action, tender romance, and about a billion infinitely quotable lines.
To celebrate, we’ve put together a fiendish quiz – a Battle of Wits, if you will – to see how big a fan of The Princess Bride you truly are. Want to put your knowledge to the test? As you wish…
William Goldman, Hollywood screenwriting veteran and the author of the novel The Princess Bride, adapted his work for film. What script, among these listed, did he NOT write or co-write?
Goldman wrote a draft of a Flowers for Algernon adaptation, was unhappy with the result, and consequently hired Stirling Silliphant to re-write and re-name the project.
Before Cary Elwes was attached, which popular 1980s actor was interested in playing Westley?
The Superman actor was interested in playing Goldman’s ‘farmboy’, but the stars were not aligned. Elwes was ultimately picked for what director Rob Reiner considered his 'Errol Flynn' qualities.
What was the nickname of the real-life eighteenth century pirate who inspired the film’s Dread Pirate Roberts?
Regarded as one of the most successful pirates of the Golden Age of Piracy by number of vessels captured (over 400!), Bartholomew ‘Black Bart’ Roberts was a Welshman who rose to infamy in the Caribbean in the early 1700s, and found eternal fame by supplying the inspiration for Wesley's alter ego.
Which film did The Princess Bride’s fight choreographer Bob Anderson – legendary fencer, stunt person, and screen combat coach – NOT work on?
While Anderson worked on the 1967 Casino Royale – starring David Niven as James Bond and featuring a much lighter tone than the 2006 Daniel Craig vehicle – he did not contribute to any Bond film after Die Another Day (2002).
Where was the Battle of Wits scene filmed?
While all are locations used in The Princess Bride, Lathkill Dale, in the Peak District National Park, was used for this infinitely quotable sequence.
Andre the Giant was William Goldman’s first choice for Fezzik, but during the 14 years the film spent in development which other actor was NOT considered for the part?
All three other actors were considered for the giant, with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar being offered the part but having to turn it down due to his NBA schedule. Liam Neeson revealed in a 2007 Graham Norton interview that he auditioned for Fezzik, but was immediately turned down by Reiner for standing a paltry 6’4”.
How did Cary Elwes break his big toe while filming?
Andre pestered Elwes to drive his ATV for some time; when he eventually relented he promptly drove into some rocks when shifting gears, trapping his foot. He tried to hide his injury from Reiner for as long as possible, but eventually he confessed and shooting was engineered to hide his limp (though it is evident in the way he is sitting before Buttercup pushes Wesley down the hill).
Vizzini warns Buttercup about the ‘shrieking eels’ when she jumps overboard in her escape attempt. In the original novel, what creatures infest the waters instead?
To exacerbate matters, he even fills a cup with his own blood and pours it over the side to attract the hungry beasts!
When did William Goldman accidentally ruin a shot while filming?
Goldman was so shocked and caught up in the moment that he reportedly yelled ‘Her dress is on fire!’, ruining a perfectly good practical effect. As for the others, Cary Elwes requested Christopher Guest actually hit him for real (ending with production shut down for a day because Elwes was in hospital), and both Rob Reiner and Mandy Patinkin had trouble keeping straight faces with Billy Crystal performing. Nothing of note seemed to go wrong during the filming of the Montoya-Rugen duel.
And lastly, which iconic line is said the most times during the film?
‘As you wish’ is uttered seven times, though to be fair it is said only four times by Westley and three by the grandfather. ‘My name is Inigo Montoya…’ is said six times (all by Inigo, obviously). ‘Inconceivable!’ is exclaimed five, and ‘Bow…’ spat out only once.