Michaeline: “Inconceivable”

William Goldman (left) and James Caan in 1976. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)


The creator of The Princess Bride is dead. William Goldman, the writer of the 1973 novel and the screenplay of the 1987 movie, died in his sleep at age 87 Friday morning after a battle with pneumonia and colon cancer, according to the Guardian and National Public Radio (US) reports.

I came to The Princess Bride late, and I don’t like the romance – let me just get that out in front. But as a buddy movie, The Princess Bride is full of fun and adventure. Who can forget old tropes transformed into new tropes? The Dread Pirate Roberts, the Spanish swordman bent on revenge, the Gentle Giant, monsters like Rodents Of Unusual Size, the evil King and his henchmen, the wise wizard and his wife with their own deep backstory, and of course, the love interest: Buttercup. The trophy that symbolizes love – the greatest motivator of all.

“Wuv . . . Twu Wuv . . . wiw follow yoooou . . . fowevaaaah!” as Peter Cook as The Impressive Clergyman says. (YouTube: 11 seconds down memory lane.)

William Goldman was famous for great friendship stories. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was another great. He wrote the screenplay for The Great Waldo Pepper (one of my parents’ favorite movies). And he wrote the screenplay from Ira Levin’s The Stepford Wives. Friendship perverted.

So, to mark his passing, let’s add a little of that buddy magic to our writing today. If you are stuck on a NaNo scene, phone a friend. If you are putting butt in the chair for your regularly scheduled WIP engagement, add a playmate to the mix, or bring a bosom companion forward.

5 thoughts on “Michaeline: “Inconceivable”

  1. I love, love, love Princess Bride, the book, but especially the movie. As you say, not for the romance–it’s not really a romance, more a gorgeously quirky, affectionate, clever, funny fairy tale about the the unbreakable power of True Love. I do feel sorry for poor Buttercup–she’s the beautiful McGuffin in a movie loaded with agency and adventure.

    Bonus reason for my love of the movie–it was filmed in Derbyshire, where I grew up. I recognize and love much of the landscape. There are some amazing shots of the Peak District, and Prince Humperdinck’s castle is beautiful Haddon Hall, near Bakewell. Kay and I spent an excellent morning exploring the house when she came to the UK for a visit last year 🙂

    William Goldman was a rare talent. I shall raise a glass to him tonight.

    • It really was gorgeous scenery! I meant to watch it again before writing my post, but that strange upside-down/rightside-up 20th anniversary font for Princess Bride was great camouflage. It was literary just above my DVD player; I found it this morning, and am going to go watch it now.

      (-: Americans really have a thing for fantasy-Britain. So many great role models, I suppose.

  2. I love this movie. Haven’t read the book, although I’m adding it to my TBR pile. So sad to hear of his passing. It’s amazing the number of pop culture references come from this movie. I say them to my kids all the time (they’ve only seen the movie a couple times) and they roll their eyes. But for the most part, they recognize them. That makes me happy!

    • (-: On the one hand, he distilled the tropes that were already around. But on the other hand, that distillation has been so influential! What would Shrek have been like if Princess Bride hadn’t been around to pave the way?

      Another thing I really like about the movie is the framing device — passing down stories from generation to generation, and the ending line of the movie — “As you wish” — which we all know means, “I love you.”

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