NEW YORK — Twenty-five years after “The Princess Bride” first stormed theaters, director Rob Reiner, writer William Goldman and cast members Billy Crystal, Robin Wright, Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Carol Kane, Wallace Shawn and Chris Sarandon reunited at the New York Film Festival on Tuesday night for a boisterous screening of the quotable fantasy-comedy timed to the release of the movie on Blu-ray this week.
Goldman, 81, who wrote the 1973 novel and the screenplay for “The Princess Bride,” confessed that crafting a sequel to the now-cult movie has stumped him for years.
“I’m desperate to make it and write it and I don’t know how,” said an emotional Goldman, who also penned the scripts for “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “All the President’s Men.” “I would love to make it, more than anything else I’ve not written.”
In a Q&A that often mirrored the rollicking and sweet tone of the movie, the filmmakers shared stories of sword fights, giants and “rodents of unusual size” for the audience of more than 1,000 people who turned up to see “The Princess Bride” at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall.
Reiner said he came to Goldman’s script after several other high-profile directors, including Norman Jewison, Robert Redford and Francois Truffaut, had tried and failed to make it, and described pleading his case to the skeptical writer.
“He looked at me with the eyes of, ‘What are you gonna do to it?’ ” Reiner said of Goldman. Ultimately it was Reiner’s knack for comedy, demonstrated in his 1984 satire “This Is Spinal Tap,” that helped win over the screenwriter.
The cast members said strangers often quote them the movie’s most indelible lines, in particular the mantra of vengeance Patinkin delivers as an orphaned sword fighter: “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
“Little kids, their parents, their grandparents ask me to say it,” Patinkin said.
Crystal improvised many of his lines in the small but memorable role of Miracle Max, including an ode to “mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwiches,” according to his costars.
“He was making up 13th century period jokes,” Patinkin said. “I bruised a rib holding in my laughter.”
The filmmakers shared some behind-the-scenes stories: Crystal explained the inspiration for Miracle Max’s age makeup — “I wanted to look like a combination of my grandmother and Casey Stengel,” he said — and Patinkin described a cast bonding moment while hanging off the movie’s “Cliffs of Insanity.”
Shawn had a deathly fear of heights, Patinkin said, and was terrified of shooting the scene of their climbing the 35-foot cliffs together with Wright and their now-deceased costar, Andre the Giant. Patinkin said that Andre, the 7-foot-4 pro wrestler who played Fezzik, cradled the 5-foot-2 Shawn in a kind of papoose sling as the group ascended on a forklift. “Andre patted his head and said, ‘Don’t worry. I’ll take care of you,’ ” Patinkin said.
Upon its theatrical release in 1987, “The Princess Bride” was a modest success, grossing $30.8 million off a $16-million budget and garnering mainly positive reviews. But the film has grown in influence over the years.
During Tuesday night’s screening, the crowd often joined in on the movie’s most memorable lines — including Shawn’s “Inconceivable!” and Elwes’ “As you wish.” Their reaction seemed to delight Reiner, Goldman and the cast members, who remained in their seats for the duration of the film.
“We have not seen this with an audience for 26 years,” Crystal said. “I’m in something that’s really important. That’s the ‘as you wish’ for me.”
– Rebecca Keegan
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