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Home » Culture and Criticism

The Poppy-Fields Movie Couch Of Fame: The Princess Bride

Submitted by on September 8, 2015 – 11:53 AM41 Comments
Photo: MGM

Photo: MGM

Contheevable!

Whole bunch of readers gettin' some free TN loot today, as we kick off back-to-school week with a movie I'd probably heard quoted, like, in its entirety before I ever saw it: The Princess Bride. Meri, Elizabeth, Felis, and Myndi all nommed it over the last year, and several other readers mentioned considering putting it up for the Couch, but deciding others would have already gotten to it. Let's get into it!

  • lengthy? "Runs at 98 minutes, so not really lengthy, unfortunately… but does it count that you feel like you have to rewatch all your favourite scenes again once the movie is over?" – Felis.
  • familiar/frequent? "In rotation on many different channels over the years." – Elizabeth.
  • classic/award-winner? "It definitely qualifies as a classic. So many parents are showing this film to their kids now, and their kids love it as much as they did. It was nominated for an Oscar for best original song, and William Goldman was nominated for an WGA Best Screenplay based on another medium. It won the People's Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, and a Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation. It also is on several lists of 'Top Movies of All Time' (including IMDB's top 250 films list and AFI's 100 Years…100 Passions list)." – Felis.
  • "Greetings, Professor Falken" (big payoff/long-shot victory a la WarGames)? "The good guys win. Fathers are avenged, people rescued, bluffs are successful, death is defeated. Death is defeated! And our heroes, all of our heroes, get shiny white horses to ride away on." – Myndi.
  • "Wanna have a catch?" (Pavlovian tear-jerk; anything with dads opens the ducts for this guy)? Two nominators mentioned Inigo killing Rugen; also "as you wish" and the relationship between the grandfather and grandson.
  • quote-fest? "This movie doesn't have quotes — it IS a quote, from first to last. Who DOESN'T use 'You keep using that word' or 'As you wish' on a daily basis? I went to a showing of it in college once — we were about 15 minutes in and we realized the whole group of us was just reciting the dialogue along with the movie." – Meri, who's backed up by the other nomination emails, and by your editor's own experience.
  • caper-ish or -adjacent camaraderie? "Kidnapping a princess to start a war should qualify." – Elizabeth; Felis mentions Inigo/Fezzik and Humperdinck/Rugen.
  • "forget you, melon farmer" (you own it, but will still watch bowdlerized TV verzh) Yes from all four.

Thanks, everyone!

I have no doubt TPB will get onto the Couch double-quick. I…have seen it once, in college, when I finally rented it to see what the fuss was about, but like most of the Monty Pythons, this one fell flat for me thanks to everyone around me over-quoting it to goddamn death. I should probably give it another chance, and Lord knows I quote it myself almost reflexively; I don't think it's shitty, or not a PFM. It's just not one of mine.

We can probably skip the vote just based on the number of times it's mentioned in the nominations queue, but let's make official.

[[Update, 12/9/15: There's an Inigo/indigo bunting joke here but I can't get at it. This one's in easily.]

The Poppy-Fields Movie Couch Of Fame is here. To nominate your own PFM, email bunting at tomatonation dot com with a rundown of the criteria and your argument for why it deserves a cushion. If I use your entry, free loot shall be thine.

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41 Comments »

  • HLM says:

    Oh man, they showed this at the art house theater many years ago when I was in college, and for a WONDER nobody quoted along aloud. But when the bishop appeared on screen, the entire audience stood up and applauded.

    Menschy sidenote: A few years back, the riding camp at my barn showed the movie to keep a bunch of tween students quiet during a spell of wet weather (counselor: "It shut them up during the movie, but oh man did we not realize how often we'd be hearing them quote the dialogue"). The kids, who had never seen the movie before, fell helplessly in love and ended up writing fan letters to Mandy Patinkin, who sweetly wrote back and enclosed a signed picture of himself as Inigo skewering Rugen's baddies.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    Patinsky! Not the guy you'd think would do that, which makes the story even better.

  • Megan in Seattle says:

    It seems like such a sure thing that I was surprised I wasn't one of the nominators! That's a yes from me.

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    If you can, Sars, definitely see it in a theater. I'd seen it many times on video, of course, but when the entire audience stood up and cheered Inigo as he faced down Rugen? It was like a storybook story.

  • For those who say, "Great movies have never been made from great novels," here's the perfect rebuttal.

    And remember, never get involved in a land war in Asia.

  • Rebecca U says:

    Oh, yes.

    There is more than one ROUS at our local zoo. My son knew capybaras played the Rodents Of Unusual Size long before he was old enough to see the movie.

  • StillAnotherKate says:

    "Let me 'splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up." Kills me every time.

    Also, whenever I am with my family and some group of us is leaving and others are staying behind, some one always runs to the door and shouts "Have fun storming the castle!"

    This is a Double Yes vote for me.

    And just in case you haven't seen this:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1USHmMw2dI8

  • MizShrew says:

    I am stunned this wasn't already on the Couch. Incon—oh never mind. Definitely a yes in my book.

    Hardcore fans should read "As You Wish," since Elwes includes all kinds of fun making-of and behind the scenes tidbits.

  • Becky says:

    "I'm not a witch, I'm your wife!"

    "LIAR! Liarrrrr!"

    My dad also has made it a family tradition to misquote part of Inigo's banter with Wesley as they fenced, to the point that I have no idea what he is actually saying when I hear "your motha is a creepa!"

    I don't comment often, but this is a hearty yes.

  • the Bloody Munchkin says:

    Hell to the Yes on this one.

    Faulken goes down as one of the top ten cinematic grandpa's of all time. "You're sick, I'll humor you," might not be the most quoted thing from this movie, but it's quoted quite often in this household.

    And can we just talk about Andre the Giant for a moment. God. I lurved him and his character so. There was some interview footage extra in the 20th anniversary DVD for the movie and Robin talked about how on particularly cold days shooting, Andre would put both this hands over her head to keep her head warm and then she started crying, and then I cried and cried like a little baby because that is just a perfect story and it sums up who Andre was both as the character and a person and now every time I watch the movie, I think of that and I get a little misty eyed when the princess jumps into his arms.

    *sniff* I'm not crying right now.

  • Lindsay says:

    Oh, yes – I vote YES.

    Adding to the quote fest, things are often "only mostly dead" around here.

  • ferretrick says:

    I'm with Sars; I thought this movie was utterly stupid when I finally saw it. Apparently I'm in the very tiny minority (and yes, I HAVE been told to prepare to die when I've expressed this opinion in the past; that joke is played, thanks). So, fine, if it's a PFM, but not for me personally.

  • Kari says:

    Yes!

    My husband and son gave me As You Wish for Mother's Day (great gift) and I realized I could draw a straight line from this warm-hearted comedy to many other things I enjoy (such as Parks and Rec) but this was the first.

    Watching it on TV makes it regular movie length – I don't think anything is usually cut, just commercials added.

  • cayenne says:

    I cannot believe this wasn't already on the list – it seems like the PFM archetype. Just the sheer number of quotes gets it a bye on other criteria.

    "Get back, witch!"

    "Anybody want a peanut?"

    "Never get involved in a land war in Asia."

    "Mawwiage…"

    "Is this a kissing book?"

    "Why don't you give me a nice paper cut and pour lemon juice on it? WE'RE CLOSED!"

    I have a friend who absolutely refuses to see this movie. She's heard so much about it for years now that she's afraid it won't live up to the hype. I keep telling her I'm going to suck her into the cult by giving her kids the DVD and having them guilt her into watching it with them.

  • Sophie says:

    "Anybody want a peanut?"

    … That's Florinese for "yes."

  • Beanie says:

    Oh my God, so much yes.

    "My way's not very sportsman-like."

    This movie is in my top ten, and I don't care who knows it.

  • Sandman says:

    Oh, yes! Definitely a Hall of Famer for me. I own it and still watch it every time it is broadcast — less frequently than it used to be, I'd say.

    I remember Robin Wright's story about André the Giant! The cast seemed unanimous in their affection for him. There's a wonderful interview with the Patink where he talks about how he and Cary Elwes did a lot of their own stunt work, and most (all?) of the fencing derring-do, and never real injured themselves to any great extent. The only time they really hurt themselves, he said, was when Billy Crystal was on set and they kept falling over laughing!

    It's not a line that I can really quote much, but "I want my father back, you son of a bitch!" still gets me to this day.

  • Sandman says:

    "Never really injured themselves," oops.

  • Ann_Margrock says:

    Oh Sweet Cracker Sandwich! I figured this was in on the PFMC already, or I would have nominated this movie!

    This movie and another PFCM – The Hunt for Red October – are two movies whose quotes are used constantly in my family.
    Not only do Hubby and I quote this movie for all kinds of things, but my siblings and I also quote lines from this movie to each other.

    Family get-togethers:
    We don't say Grace before a meal. Instead, someone at the table starts: "Mawage…Mawage is what bwings us togeder today…"
    We don't say good-bye in driveway. We say, "Have fun storming the castle."

    Someone peeves me off? I often turn to Hubby – a mountain of man – and say, "Fezzik, tear his arms off."

    Bogie T. Dog puts something in his mouth he shouldn't? I turn to him and yell, "DROP… YOUR… SWORD!" (Doesn't usually work)

    All the rest of the quotes find a home in my life, and for some odd reason, Hubby often ends the evening by kissing me good-night and and saying, "Rest well and dream of large women."

    So, yes! I vote yes.

  • FelisD says:

    Not sure if I'm allowed to vote, since I nominated it…

    But I will say that even if you didn't like the film, you might want to give the original novel by William Goldman a read. I loved the film when I first saw it (it got constant rotation on movie nights when I was at camp), but when I finally read the book, I loved the book even more, and wished that some more of the scenes and speeches from the book had made it into the novel. Wesley's speech when Buttercup asks why he can't just carry her back up the bluffs instead of running into the Forest is a particular favourite.

  • FelisD says:

    Made it into the film, I should say…

  • RachelG says:

    A full throated yes to this. I am one of those who's shown it to her kids (ages 6 and 9) and they think it's as awesome as I do.

  • bluesabriel says:

    I remember watching the first half of this one in study hall (…come to think of it, I have no idea WHY) in middle school and all of us hanging on ever word. I saw the whole thing on cable at my grandparent's house not long after that and have adored it ever since. I'm glad I saw it as a kid before I was overexposed. I've since read the book and definitely recommend it!

    "You keep using that word" is used on almost a daily basis in our house.

  • Trish says:

    I just went to a Princess Bride Quote-along at Alamo Drafthouse last week. SO. FUN. Love this one.

  • Nanc says:

    Thumbs upping the suggestion to read Cary Elwes' As You Wish. Or listen to him read the audio book–it's fantastic and it's so obvious how much he loved the experience and I get the feeling he still has a big giant crush on Robin Wright, even after all these years.

  • scout1222 says:

    There is a lot about this movie that I personally feel is tiresome, but there is NO DOUBT in my mind this movie would be on the PFM list.

  • Daisy says:

    I agree with it all! But….is there really a bowdlerized version of this movie? Wasn't it pretty family-friendly in the first place, so what would they take out for TV?

  • Mingles' Mommy says:

    I still remember the first time we watched that (on VHS). I was (being a pre-teen) not remotely enthused about the idea of watching anything with "princess" in the title. When the video game noises came on, we thought we had the wrong movie.

    All these years later, it's still a favorite… as noted above, this movie is just one long series of fun quotes. Absolutely wonderful from start to finish. And the rock scene still makes me jump, even though I know what's coming.

    Fun story (I think): Wallace Shawn lives in my neighborhood. One day my friend and her sister came face to face with him on his block, and without thinking her sister yelled, "INCONCEIVABLE!" Mr. Shawn answered, "…. Yes," and then raced to get into his building (probably thought she was a crazed fan. She's not, she's just loopy).

  • Cora says:

    The most common quotes for my family are:

    "Have fun stormin' the castle!"

    and

    "I do not think you know what this word means." Which always goes into a Simpsons loop because then we start talking about cromulent words. Please tell me other people do this….

  • Lindsay says:

    I enthusiastically agree with FelisD – if you loved the movie, read the book! Is it possible to have more of a good thing? YES.

  • kate says:

    Love this movie so much! Excellent choice for the Poppy Fields hall of fame.

  • DensityDuck says:

    A tangent: Sort of an anti-Poppy Fields, what movies were wrecked for you by EVERYONE quoting them long before you got to see them?

    For me, it was "Austin Powers" and "A Few Good Men".

  • Shana says:

    Right before I left for college, I sat my brother down and forced him to watch The Princess Bride. He fought me on it for about 5 minutes (as per usual) and then was completely enthralled (as per usual). I patted myself on the back for being a good older sister and didn't think anything more of it until a few years later…

    Sometime around my second or third year at college, the brother called to tell me that I had helped him ace a math test. 1) I hadn't been home in a few months at that point. 2) He'd never discussed a math test with me over the phone. 3) Math was not a subject I ever really offered up advice in. So I was mighty confused and he proceeded to provide the BEST explanation:

    The final question on the recent test was about angles. Specifically, calculating the angle created by a ship as it approached a cliff at a certain speed. Underneath that was an extra credit question: "The ship approaching the cliff is carrying three men and a woman. The men are named Inigo, Fezzik, and Vizzini. Who is the woman and why are they sailing towards a cliff?"

    When the test was over, the class erupted in frustration. "What kind of an extra credit question is that?" "What does it mean?" "No one understands what you're talking about!" The teacher, who had been paging through the exams, paused at one, read it, smiled, and then said, "If you don't know what it means, just ask [Brother]. He wrote two full paragraphs about it."

    And that's how I, who hadn't gotten an A in math since the 8th grade, helped my brother get the highest test score in his geometry class!

  • kate says:

    Wesley's "to the pain" speech is like, the best burn/mic drop ever.

  • Maria says:

    Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. For a thousand reasons with which I won't bore you.

    Sars, give it another shot just to drool over RW's wardrobe. The gowns are, how you say, divine.

  • Anne says:

    I just saw the Jason Reitman live read of this at TIFF and man does the script hold up. I also agree that the book is even better, and the part with Buttercup and Wesley talking about not being able to go up the Bluffs is a favourite for me as well. Actually, Buttercup is a much better character in the book.

  • Josh says:

    Yeah, this one is a winner for me. There's just too many great lines, too much of a delightful sense of fun throughout the whole thing to keep this one off the Couch.

    Remarkably, both Elwes and Wright manage to be pretty badass (something not normally in their wheelhouse). I love it when Elwes yells "Death first!", it's killer.

    Terrific cast, big fun, endlessly quotable.

  • Jaybird says:

    This movie pretty much defines the PFM for me. Especially since the day I was holding my spherical firstborn son, who was a bit peevish at the time, and I looked at my sister and said, "He sure can…fuss."

    "I theenk he lahk to scweam…at US."

  • Sandman says:

    The movie shifted the frame story to a grandfather; in the novel, a father reads his favourite book to his son, as his own father had read it to him. One of the loveliest discoveries about the book, which I read after I already loved the movie, was the central place that relationships between fathers and sons have in the novel. The novel has tenderness and grace, where the movie has a little more slapstick, though both are laugh-out-loud funny.

  • iiii says:

    I once saw a review of _The Princess Bride_ that read, in its entirety, "This movie is not nearly as cute as it thinks it is." Summed it up for me.

    (When I relayed that thought to my sister, she replied it was too as cute as it thought it was, and even cuter on top.)

    It's worth sitting through just to get all the quotable quotes in context, imo, but for those who come out the other side not getting the hype, please know you have company.

    But in any case – Harcourt is still taking requests for the reunion scene (as described in the book) here: http://www.harcourtbooks.com/PrincessBride/request.asp
    Get your own today!

  • Melissa says:

    Added benefit: hubs quoting "My name is…" while we watch a particularly dramatic scene involving Patinsky in HOMELAND! I laugh every time….

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