In 2001, William Goldman, who wrote the novel and the screenplay for The Princess Bride, recorded a DVD commentary for the fairly tale movie having not seen the film since it first came out in 1987. Here are a few excerpts;
“The novel was around for a long, long time before it was finally made into a movie and I never thought the movie would happen and I was wrong.”
“It’s very hard to make a quality movie. Every time you come out with one it’s a miracle, because everything is conspiring against you.”
“The book was written in ’73 and in ’74 20th Century Fox decided to make a movie, but they weren’t sure it was a movie. But we stuck a deal, they bought the book and I owned the screenplay. And they would buy the screenplay if they decided to make the movie. ..I did a draft for myself, and I did a draft for them…and the studio liked it and we would have come out in ’75 except the studio head got fired. And when that happens, when the new studio head comes in he is determined that anything that the old studio head got greenlit as they say would never get made, because if it did get made and was a hit, people would snicker at him knowing that it wasn’t his movie…The movie almost got made two or three times.
(Note: The film was finally made about ten years after that initial start and released in 1987. It would be hard to imagine the movie as we know it without with the cast Rob Reiner put together including; Andre the Giant, Wally Shawn, Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Robin Wright Penn.)
“Even as you look at it now (The Princess Bride) is an odd movie. And I’m just thrilled it got made. That’s a big deal for me. This is my theory…movies are successes because people like them, movies are failures because people don’t like them. Everything else is mythology. All the stuff you read about this movie being a hit, this movie is a flop—total bull. They have no idea before a movie opens what’s going to happen. And this movie, people that went to it loved it., and they would tell their friends…By the time it came out on cassettes it was the hit it should have been I think when it was in theaters. We’re lucky this all happened because when you have a movie that you like and it doesn’t find the audience you hoped for it’s heartbreaking. Because you don’t get it that many times.”
“One of the things about (The Princess Bride/ 98 minutes) is it’s short. George Roy Hill said if you can’t tell your story in an hour fifty you better be David Lean. I think movies are disgracefully long now. I think part of it is director’s ego. I think part of its people think if it’s long it’s equated with important which is total madness. I thought this movie went right along, we didn’t really leave anything out. This is what we wrote, this is what we shot, this is what you saw.
Two-time Oscar winning screenwriter (All the President’s Men, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid)