The majority of people have no idea who William Goldman is or that his birthday was yesterday. I will admit that I didn’t until about 10 years ago, when I read the book The Princess Bride. Of course, I had seen the movie before, but had no idea it was based on a book. Goldman invented the pseudonymn S. Morgenstern as the fictional writer of the book, which he wrote in 1973. How can you not love a story with romance, adventure, humor and R.O.U.S.’s?

The Princess Bride became one of the 1980’s most popular movies in 1987, and I’ve watched it so many times that I know most of the lines. Goldman was also the screenwriter for the film. In case you have no idea what I am talking about and/or have never seen the movie or read the book, here is a very brief and overly simplified summary. Some of my favorite scenes include the marriage scene between Buttercup and Prince Humperdinck and the infamous Battle of Wits. If you’re interested in more behind the scenes info on the film, this article is great for that. Little known facts about the movie, courtesy of this Internet Movie Database webpage:

  • Director Rob Reiner left the set during Billy Crystal‘s scenes because he would laugh so hard that he would feel nauseated.
  • According to author William Goldman, when he was first trying to get the movie made in the 1970s, a then-unknown Arnold Schwarzenegger wanted to play Fezzik, and he was strongly being considered because Goldman could never get his first choice, André the Giant, to read for the role. By the time the movie was made about 12 years later, Arnold was such a big star they could not afford him, Andre was cast after all and the two big men had gone on to become friends.
  • Vizzini’s advice on not getting involved in a land war in Asia is derived from principles stated by Field Marshal Bernard L. Montgomery (Viscount Alamein) in a speech in the House of Lords on 30 May 1962: “Rule 1, on page 1 of the book of war is: ‘Do not march on Moscow.’ … Rule 2 is: ‘Do not go fighting with your land armies in China.'”
  • Director Rob Reiner was the voice of the R.O.U.S.s.
  • Most of the movie was filmed on location in England. The castle used for the film dated back to 1065 and had original tapestries on the walls.
  • The giant rodents were created with diminutive actors inside rat suits. On the day Westley was supposed to battle the giant rat, the “rat actor” was pulled over for speeding and subsequently arrested, and actually had to be bailed out of jail by the filmmakers so the scene could be filmed.
  • There really was a “Dread Pirate Roberts” (Bartholomew Roberts, also known as Black Bart) who operated in the Caribbean in the early 18th century. He is reckoned by many to have been the most successful pirate of all time.
  • Cary Elwes was cast because of what Rob Reiner called his Douglas Fairbanks or Errol Flynn quality. Fairbanks and Flynn both played Robin Hood (Fairbanks in Robin Hood and Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood). Later Elwes spoofed their performances in Robin Hood: Men in Tights.
  • Mandy Patinkin has said that the role of Inigo Montoya is his personal favourite over the course of his entire career.

Aside from The Princess Bride, William Goldman is an accomplished screenwriter. He wrote and produced one of the most famous westerns ever Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, he was a screenwriter for  A Bridge Too Far with Sean Connery, Ryan O’Neal, and Michael Caine, Marathon Man with Dustin Hoffman and Laurence Olivier (wrote the novel as well), All the President’s Men (about the Nixon Watergate scandal) with Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, Misery, Chaplin with Robert Downey Jr, and he also wrote Maverick. Goldman has won two Academy Awards: an Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and an Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay for All the President’s Men.

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