The Princess Bride star Cary Elwes has a new book out, going behind the scenes of the making of the movie. One story is Mandy Patinkin’s strange injury:
After Westley is rendered “mostly dead” at the hands of the evil prince, Inigo and Fezzik carry him to Miracle Max, an elderly healer played by Billy Crystal, who based the schticky character on his grandmother and former Yankees manager Casey Stengel.
Reiner gave Crystal free rein to improvise, and many of the scene’s memorable lines were ad libbed, including the crack about true love being the greatest thing next to a good MLT — mutton, lettuce and tomato.
The cast and crew had trouble keeping their composure. Reiner had to leave the room after ruining several takes, and Elwes — who was supposed to lie motionless on a table, pretending to be mostly dead — had to be replaced by a dummy, because he couldn’t keep from cracking up.
Patinkin kept his laughter bottled up and actually bruised a rib holding it in.
I believe it. I can’t count the number of times I’ve watched that movie, and Billy Crystal cracks me up each and every time — and Carol Kane is just as brilliant as Valerie.
We have a tradition here at Casa Verde of watching The Princess Bride once a year. Our dear friends Kat and Jay come over, in part because they’re godparents to our older son, Pres, and in part because they’re just as much diehard Bride fans as we are.
This last time around, just a couple of months ago, Pres got it in his eight-year-old head that he hates the movie. “Can’t we watch Pacific Rim? I hate Princess Bride.” And so of course his little four-year-old brother started to echo him — “I hate that movie, too.”
So Kat and Jay came over and we grownups got ourselves settled in on various sofas and chairs, after spreading out a blanket and popcorn and snacks for the kids on the floor. I turned the stereo up to 11 and tuned the Apple TV into the movie — and within minutes both of those boys were as quiet and as still and as absolutely enraptured as two little boys can be. And so were we grownups — as much by the little boys as by the movie.
If you want to know the secret of the enduring appeal of The Princess Bride, there you go.
ADDENDUM: At least once a week the boys ask me to do my impression of Peter Cook’s Impressive Clergyman. It is, as you might expect, most impressive.