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  • LocationDeepest, Darkest, South of England

Since everyone (with some feeling in their soul) loves The Princess Bride..


Uproxx - As you Wish: 10 Interesting Facts We Learned About The Princess Bride From Rob Reiner




It’s tough to not like The Princess Bride. It’s got something for everyone: Cary Elwwwweeeessss for the ladies, Robin Wright for the fellas, Andre the Giant for the everyone. Not to mentions swamps and giant rats and Wallace Shawn and sword fights and Kevin Arnold and Christopher Guest and hello my name is Inigo Montoya you killed my father prepare to die. It’s one of the few cult movies that deserves all the adoration it receives.


On Thursday night, director Rob Reiner joined Jason Reitman at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in front of a rapturous crowd to talk over The Princess Bride. Rather than MST3K it, though, they instead provided interesting facts about the movie — a real-life directors commentary. Here’s what we learned.



Reiner: Originally, Peter Falk [who was around 60] said, "I don’t know if I’m old enough to be a grandfather." He said maybe we should put prosthetics on me, to make me older. So we did. We did a test on it. He looked at it and said, "Rob…I look like a burn victim!" I said, "Peter, maybe we do it without the prosthetics?" He says, "I think you’re on to something."


Reitman: There’s a piece of trivia I heard about this scene. There’s a hat in the scene that [composer] Mark Knopfler wanted you to use?

Reiner: There it is! You see it hanging? You see that little cap there? That’s the cap I wore in Spinal Tap. And Mark Knopfler, who wrote the score for The Princess Bride, said to me, "I’ll only do it if you put something from This is Spinal Tap in the movie." So I threw the hat in there for Marty DiBergi, and then I was lucky enough to get the guy who was the lead guitarist for Dire Straits. Here, you can hear his guitar. It’s a classical score, but his guitar work is very distinctive.


Reitman: I read somewhere Cary Elwes said everywhere he goes to this day, women ask him to say that to them ["As you wish."].

Reiner: Yes, and people have Princess Bride weddings. They have ‘As you wish’ written inside their rings. They do all kinds of things like that.



Reitman: I read that you were in a restaurant in New York once, and one of John Gotti’s men said…

Reiner: Yeah, I walked outside the restaurant, and John Gotti was there with six wiseguys. There was a guy beside the limo who looked like Luca Brasi. He looked at me, and said: "You killed my father…Prepare to die!" I almost went right then! He said, "I love dat movie, da Princess Bride!"



Reiner: The first day we shot with [Robin Wright] was this scene where she gets lit up by the Fire Swamp. Bill Goldman says, "I can’t believe we’re setting our leading lady on fire on the first day!" We were all so worried she was going to get burned.

Reitman: This is obviously all practical.

Reiner: Oh yeah, that’s real fire.


Reitman: Wallace Shawn was not the original actor that you had in mind, right?

Reiner: Well, I mean, [Vizzini's] supposed to be a Sicilian. And Wally Shawn is probably the furthest thing from a Sicilian you could possibly imagine. And he thought we were going to fire him after the first day, because the first thing we did with him was The Battle of Wits scene with the iocane powder. He was sure we were going to fire him. "I can’t get the Sicilian accent!" I said, "Wally, we want the Sicilian to sound just like you."



Reiner: I sent [Andre the Giant] his part on tape. I recorded his entire part.

Reitman: Your voice?

Reiner: Me, personally. And I said, "Listen to this, and study it." And he studied it. We never had to [re-record his dialogue.] He learned the whole thing [phonetically.]



Reiner: Here’s an interesting thing. You’ll see the [Rodents of Unusual Size] come in, and there’s a scene where one rat kind of sniffs around. They were little people in rat suits. And the scene where he fights the rat, there was another guy named Anthony who could scurry really good. He could run around.




Reiner: This is a place called Higger Tor, it’s way up close to Scotland, and it’s a rocky outcropping. Here’s something interesting. Cary Elwes, he always walks very gingerly. Wait until he sits down and you’ll see…See the way he’s holding that leg out. Looks like it’s very elegant. That’s because he had almost broken his ankle, and he could put no weight on it. So when he sits down like that, and then when he gets up, you’d say, "Oh wow, look how graceful and debonair and elegant." But he just couldn’t put any weight on it.



Reiner: You see those four horses? At the end of the movie, we had a scene where Peter Falk leaves and the little boy picks up the book and is leafing through it, wanting to relive the book again. And he hears a voice outside his window and sees the four white horses with the four heroes on it, waving at him. In order to find a horse that could carry Andre, we had to find a pulley system to lower him onto the horse, to take the weight off the horse. [They shot the sequence, but Reiner decided during the editing that it didn’t work.]



Posted 02 September 2013 - 03:26 PM

"Postatem obscuri lateris nescitis"

The Princess Bride is such a good movie.

Posted 04 September 2013 - 02:20 AM

  • LocationDeepest, Darkest, South of England

So they've released the trailer of the "new" Robocop.


Looks a bit too clean, but kind of like the Total Recall remake. Non-offensive, potentially watchable.


Posted 06 September 2013 - 07:47 PM

"Postatem obscuri lateris nescitis"

  • LocationDeepest, Darkest, South of England

For the random interest over the new Riddick film.



When we were doing The Chronicles of Riddick, back in 2003, David [Twohy] and I put together three leather binder, and each leather binder had a lock. They were those binders that you could lock. And we gave them to the head of the studio with one key. On the first binder, it said [COR] I, the second binder said [COR] II and the third binder said [COR] III. At that production level, the amount of money that we were spending at that point, we were thinking of going directly to the Underverse for [COR] II, and then to Furya for [COR] III. When years and years started to go by and we weren’t delivering the next chapter, we had to make a very conscious decision to find a way to tell the next chapter, continue the story and continue the mythology, even if it meant we weren’t going to get the size budget we had just had on The Chronicles of Riddick.

Luckily for us, there was an outcry from social media to make this one rated R, which did two things. It ruled out all possibilities of a studio backing it. As you know, rated R movies are few and far between, nowadays. We’re all seeing less and less rated R movies, and less and less of them are being made. We had to take a more independent route, so I went to Europe, to a film market, and presented what this film was going to be, and got foreign money to start this movie and to be the bulk of the financing for the movie. And then, it was up to us to take that somewhat limited means, especially in comparison to where we were on Chronicles, and tell a story with those limited means. Thank god, the audience wanted it rated R because that justified, in some ways, taking a more independent route.


I have to admit, I always liked the fact that they chose to go such a different route with the second film. So many people seem to make a sequel that's just a rehash of the first movie just with flashier/bigger effects or gore or whatever. But just taking the surviving characters and throwing them into a completely different story style was quite brave for the movie industry and I have to applaud it.


Posted 06 September 2013 - 07:51 PM

"Postatem obscuri lateris nescitis"

  • LocationDeepest, Darkest, South of England

For the purely random, since it just is utterly awesome:



Posted 16 September 2013 - 10:45 PM

"Postatem obscuri lateris nescitis"

  • LocationDeepest, Darkest, South of England

Now this is one I'm picking up next week..  but definitely shows how Whedon likes to keep things in the family. Or at least, sticks by actors he knows and likes.



Posted 02 October 2013 - 08:51 PM

"Postatem obscuri lateris nescitis"

  • LocationDeepest, Darkest, South of England

Heh. Amusing if you've seen both films (oh, one minor profanity at the end)


Posted 26 October 2013 - 10:48 AM

"Postatem obscuri lateris nescitis"

  • LocationDeepest, Darkest, South of England
Hm, if you're a fan of David Weber's Honorverse books, for those not aware it's being developed into movie time..
It's interesting how things have to be changed or evolve to adapt a story told in one medium to being told in another.

For the infodump from Weber the other month..

So, Sharon and I got back from LA late Thursday night, and very glad to get home, we were, given how worn out we were (and how badly we need missed the kids :( ). The trip was absolutely, totally, completely worthwhile, though. We spent three solid days meeting with the folks at Evergreen Films on the Honorverse movie project, and it was as exciting as it was exhausting. (If you want a better feel for exactly who Evergreen is, I invite you to go take a look at http://www.evergreenfilms.com. I know I was impressed when I did.) 

We're still at a very early stage of creating the imagery for the movie, and Evergreen needs to consider the fact that to make a movie a financial success requires expanding viewership well beyond the fandom base even of a series which has been ongoing as long as the Honorverse has. At the same time, they're very respectful of the existing fans, for several reasons. One of them happens to be that Mike Devlin, Evergreen's CEO, is himself a major Honor fan, which has a lot to do with why Evergreen snapped up the rights to the project. I've had a lot of talks with Mike, and I think he truly understands Honor's character, the personal relationships which are critical to who and what she is, and the importance of characters, background, and -- for want of a better term -- texture to good storytelling. Although Evergreen is very much cutting edge in CGI and 3D technology, in the opinions of the people we just spent a week talking to, all of the geewhiz special effects take second place behind the need to tell as compelling and absorbing a story as possible. (Not that they don't have some really neat geewhiz stuff. Part of it is a proprietary software system -- they call it the "prototyper" -- that duplicates actors, sets, camera angles, and lighting before they ever shoot the actual scene. Essentially, they can produce a "dry run" on screen before production even takes place, tracking every actor, every camera, every lighting angle, every lighting value, etc. The only other folks who have anything even remotely similar at this point are James Cameron and George Lucas, and Evergreen's is newer and takes advantage of intervening advances. What I'm trying to say here is that it's really, really cool. :) )

Inevitably, at such an early stage, we're still feeling our way in several aspects of the entire project, but a very coherent skeleton is already emerging. One part of that skeleton is Evergreen's strong desire to have me involved and to have my input integrated into their thinking as broadly as possible. It doesn't mean that I'm going to have creative control of the project, which only makes sense, since it's a medium quite different from the one in which I normally work. It does mean that they are showing me art, asking for my opinion of it, asking for my input on how it might be changed or improved, discussing character mixes, how best to show the interaction between characters -- especially Honor and Nimitz -- and where and how to begin the first of what they hope will be several movies. There are so many books in the Honorverse, and so much historical background both inside and outside of Honor's personal experience, that a moviemaker has a really broad canvas to work from, and Evergreen wants to maintain that feel of . . . spaciousness, perhaps, in the movies, as well. That offers us some options that a standalone book adaptation wouldn't have, but it also offers the potential for pitfalls if we aren't careful, and everyone at Evergreen seems determined to avoid the aforesaid pitfalls.

For those of you who have been wondering, we'll be beginning with Honor of the Queen, not On Basilisk Station. There are some solid reasons for that, and I came down in favor of that decision well before Evergreen finally made up its mind which starting point to choose. I love OBS, but the nature of the tension between Honor and her crew in that book, the way in which her command style wins the crew over, and the basis for the conflict between her and Klaus Hauptman, the politics behind Basilisk Station being regarded as the RMN's dumping grounds, and the nature of the Havenite threat in that book all make it much more problematic, in my opinion, as the basis for a standalone movie. Going with HotQ (probably with at least some flashback to OBS) gives us a story line and a conflict which will be much easier and "cleaner" to set up in a medium which doesn't allow the amount of narrative explanation which can be achieved in a novel.

There's general agreement at Evergreen (which I share) that certain aspects of the visual imagery are going to be especially critical, and Patrick Tatopolous (who's worked on "Stargate," "Underworld," and "I, Robot," among other projects), who's been chosen as Art Director, has that firmly in the front of his mind, as does Scott Kroopf, Evergreen's chief creative officer. Scott's executive produced or produced over 80 movies, including "The Chronicles of Riddick," "Pitch Black," and "The Last Samurai," which gives him an interesting breadth of experience, I think. :)

Frankly, the number one issue is going to be bringing Nimitz to the screen and integrating his relationship with Honor into the screenplay in a way which will allow people not already familiar with the books to recognize that Nimitz is far more than simply a pet. I'm sure nobody will be surprised to learn that the "Evergreen Nimitz" isn't going to look exactly like anything we've already seen in print. Partly, that's because Evergreen is going to be able to do things in terms of modeling musculature, skeleton, facial expression, the movement of ears, etc., that simply can't be done by a cover artist. Partly it's because movies are such an intensely visual environment that they almost have to do more in developing the treecats' physical appearance because of how long he's going to be on-screen and how critical his relationship with Honor actually is. One consequence of that is that Nimitz will almost certainly spend less time on Honor's shoulder than he does in the books. There are several reasons for that, including the fact that without the internal POV a writer can inject into a novel, a lot more about understanding the relationship between characters -- especially when one of them is incapable of speech -- is going to require much greater visual cueing, and having Nimitz spend more time moving on his own will probably help to defuse any perceptions that he's a dependent appendage of Honor. Readers already know that he's a capable, fully sapient character because of the time they've spent "inside Honor's head," but that's going to have to be communicated to movie viewers who lack that advantage from external, visual cues.

Another factor, of course, is that combining a CGI Nimitz with a live actor Honor as a passenger on her shoulder presents both technical challenges and a lot greater opportunity for failure of the viewers' ability to suspend disbelief. I don't think we've quite hit the exact Nimitz we want to use at this stage, but the truth is that it would be astounding if we had. I do think we're headed very much in the right direction, however, and developing the nature of the relationship between the Nimitz and Honor of the movie will be a bit tricky. No one's going to play fast and loose with the chronology of that relationship -- that is, no one's contemplating anything which would alter or undercut the transformational change which occurs in the assassination attempt at Protector's Palace -- but it's going to be necessary to clearly establish for a newcomer that Honor and Nimitz were already exchanging information on complex, cognitive levels before that event. In the books, Honor knows that Nimitz understands Standard English quite well and we have examples of his responding to questions from her with clear yes, no, or maybe gestures. That aspect of their ability to communicate will probably be punched up somewhat in early scenes to underscore it for those who have not read the novels.

Another point that established fans are going to have to deal with will undoubtedly be the physical appearance of the ships. The Honorverse ships which have appeared in the books in prose description, and the illustrations BuNine produced for House of Steel, etc., were designed around a particular set of constraints imposed by the physics of the Honorverse. This tended to produce nearly identical hull forms, much as the constraints imposed by, say, Atlantic sea conditions impose nearly identical hull forms on wet-navy warships which all use the same system of propulsion. One of the problems with shifting from a literary to a primarily visual storytelling medium, however, is that the viewer needs to be able to distinguish between ships -- and especially between the navies those ships belong to -- from purely visual cues. Moreover, viewers need to be able to do that from very brief glimpses of those ships. If a scene shows the exterior of a cruiser for no more than a second or two, the distinguishing cues between a Manticoran and a Peep heavy cruiser need to be sufficient to register on the audience. Perhaps the best way to put it would be to say that the navies need to be plainly "branded" enough for the movie audience to keep track of them.

Because of this, there's going to be a significant degree of "reimagining" the ships, although I think I can guarantee that the redesign process won't step on the established physics of the Honorverse. We had a conference which lasted just over an hour with Patrick, Mike, Scott, Richard Browne (Evergreen's Executive VP for Gaming and Interactive), and me -- and in which Tom Pope participated via videoconferencing from the perspective of all the work BuNine's done on the Honorverse -- which gives me quite a bit of confidence at this point. I don't say that the final product is going to be something which would have occurred to me on my own, because it won't, but the nature of a movie is collaborative, and the people Evergreen's bringing in to deal with this aspect of the project are far better versed than I am on its graphics/visual aspect.

In addition to the movie itself, Evergreen is planning a cross-platform approach to the Honorverse as a whole. The intention is to produce a franchise which is deep enough and broad enough to sustain multiple movies, which is one of the considerations that makes the broadening of the fan base a primary consideration. At the moment, we're looking at a graphic novel, to be produced by Top Cow Production, which will be very strongly based on the existing novels. In addition, there will be an iOS/Android game, developed by Idol Minds in Colorado, scheduled for early 2014, which will not seek to be a comprehensive presentation of the Honorverse. Instead, its function will be to provide something which is relatively quick-playing (but with enough challenges to make it interesting) and is intended to give people who never heard of Honor Harrington or the Honorverse a "once over lightly" introduction to them. At a later stage, a game designed around storylines set in the context of the novels, although not re-creating any specific aspects or scenes of those novels, will be introduced. By then we should be well into the finalized graphics for the movie, which will provide a deeper and more complex gaming environment which will also do a much better job of allowing the gamer to experience the Honorverse more fully.

The graphic novel -- "Tales of Honor" -- will be written by Matt Hawkins of Top Cow with significant editorial input from your humble servant. Matt and I have had a couple of conferences now, and I'm feeling about as confident as anyone can before words are actually on paper that we're very much on the same page. I think I've come up with a very good "window" into Honor's story that's going to work well both with the story of the novels and with Matt's storytelling style. The artist who's been proposed for the project does beautiful work, although I haven't yet seen any examples of how he handles the sort of technology-heavy environment which is going to be so much a part of the Honorverse. If he does half as well with that as he's done with the aspects of his work I have seen, however, this is going to be a very, very satisfying visual experience. Season 1 of the graphic novel will be released in "traditional" format by Top Cow in January 2014 with the digital comic released through Comixology. Season 2 would be scheduled for July-November 2014, Season 3 for a January-May 2015 schedule, and with ongoing expansion beyond that as we get closer to (and possibly following) the movie release date.

There are still some questions which are unresolved at this point -- which, again, I emphasize is a very early stage in the creative process. For example, will there be webisodes? Will there be a fully developed console-style game coordinated with the movie's actual release? How are we going to structure the supporting website? One thing that does seem likely is that I'll be producing some additional, original fiction for the website and that we'll be developing our own wiki-style site with a layered approach that will allow the newcomer to skim once over lightly and those who are interested in more detail to explore more deeply.

Evergreen will be attending Honorcon this November, at which time they'll be prepared to present a quick "script teasers/where we stand" panel, along with "work in progress" artwork for sets, costumes, etc.; work in progress on the graphic novel; a preview of the initial iOS/Android game; and a preview of the Honor Harrington movie site. They'll also be there for the specific purpose of soliciting fan input, so if you want to get your two cents worth in, Greenville would be a good place to be in November.  ;)

For those of you who are interested, Scott, Alison Haskovec (Evergreen's VP for Development), and I did an interview with D6 Generation which will be the basis for one of their podcasts sometime Real Soon Now. Between this and that interview, I think you'll be fairly well brought up to date on where we are on this at the moment.

As I say, I'm excited. Every author has to feel some trepidation when someone suggests turning his book(s) into a movie, but in this case trepidation very much takes an extreme backseat to the enthusiasm I'm feeling right now. :D

Posted 18 November 2013 - 06:53 PM

"Postatem obscuri lateris nescitis"

  • LocationDeepest, Darkest, South of England

Since there's always room for more Princess Bride articles...

LA Weekly - Cary Elwes Tells Behind the Scene Princess Bride Stories in his Memoir


In 1987, Rob Reiner conceived the inconceivable: A big-screen version of William Goldman’s fairy tale/love story/adventure/comedy mash-up The Princess Bride. The script had been languishing for years because nobody knew how to make a movie about a princess, a six-fingered villain, a giant, wizards and oversized rodents. After a decade or so, the director finally got the project off the ground, only to enjoy moderate box office success.

More than 25 years and a new generation later, that modest hit has become a beloved and endlessly quotable pop-culture phenomenon: “Inconceivable!” “Have fun storming the castle.” “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

Cary Elwes was inspired by write his new memoir As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride (the title a reference to his own famous line) in 2012 after taking part in a 25th anniversary screening at the New York Film Festival moderated by former L.A. Weekly film editor Scott Foundas. “We were all asked what was our favorite part of the film,” Elwes says during a phone conversation from his L.A. home, “and I said I didn’t have a sufficient amount of time to share how much I enjoyed making the film. Everyone is always asked if it was as fun to make the film as it looked, and I always tell them it was more fun than it looked. It really was. So I wanted to share these memories and stories that I had with the fans, and get it down on paper before my memory started to fail.”

Back in June 1986, after turning down a residency at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Elwes was in Berlin filming when he met Reiner and his producing partner Andy Scheinman. Reiner had seen Elwes in the 1984’s Lady Jane. He was looking for a Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. type to cast in the Westley/Man in Black role, and Elwes had read the novel version as a kid.

“What resonated with me was the wonderful sense of humor,” says Elwes. “I thought, this is so wonderful and weird, just really oddball. It’s a very sweet story. It’s very unashamedly about true love. It’s also a fun story. Adults can appreciate it while watching it with their kids. That's a rare thing today.”

In his book, Elwes recalls how nervous Goldman was at the table read. The Oscar winner had penned the screenplays to Marathon Man, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All the President’s Men, but The Princess Bride, a fairy tale originally written as a novel as a gift for his daughters in 1973, was his favorite. Various studios had tossed around the idea for a movie with Francois Truffaut, Robert Redford, Norman Jewison and Richard Lester (A Hard Day’s Night, Help!) attached to direct at different times, and Colin Firth, Christopher Reeve, Danny DeVito, Arnold Schwarzenegger and even Sting in consideration for the roles. But the film wasn’t realized until Goldman met Reiner, whose father, Carl, had given him a copy of the book.

“Rob went over to his apartment, took Andy Scheinman, sat down and just convinced him,” says Elwes. “I think they just hit it off. It was a friendship and bond that proved quite fruitful for the both of them because they ended working on number of projects together, including Misery. So it was a fortuitous meeting for all of us.”

For the book, Elwes interviewed co-stars Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Carol Kane and Fred Savage. Wright, too, was a relative newbie; at 19, she was plucked from obscurity, namely the ‘80s soap Santa Barbara. Elwes writes that he was instantly smitten with his love interest, but their relationship was purely professional.

With Patinkin, Elwes spent months learning how to fence (both right- and left-handed) for their famous sword-fighting scene. He went to the hospital twice during the filming: once for breaking his toe trying to operate an ATV, and another during a scene with Guest, who accidentally cut open Elwes’ head with his sword. And when it comes to the movie’s memorable scene with Crystal, Elwes admits the comedian had him laughing so hard he was replaced with a dummy during certain moments, though he doesn’t point out which. (“Just go back and watch. You’ll be able to see.”) Not surprisingly, much of Crystal and Kane’s dialogue was ad-libbed; some of Crystal’s more off-color jokes that were cut are floating around YouTube.

Though he heaps praise on the entire cast, Elwes was particularly fond of Andre the Giant, whom he calls “a beautiful soul and a real gentle giant, who would give you the shirt off his back, which would be enough for five people.” Plagued by back problems, the 540-pound Andre couldn't perform any of his physically demanding scenes, and his drinking was legendary. Elwes recounts the time he passed out at the Dorchester hotel in London during filming, and had to be barricaded with velvet rope until he woke up the next day.

“This massive icon of a man taught me a lot about appreciating the small things in life and about living in the moment, and I am more that grateful to have known him,” writes Elwes.
Elwes also recalls the moment on set when the wrestler let out a massive fart, which he vividly describes as “so intense I even observed our soundman remove his headphones to protect his ears.” A more surprising tidbit on Andre the Giant was his friendship with Samuel Beckett. Turns out the Irish playing once lived in the same French village and chauffeured the young Andre to school in his convertible.

“When he told me that story I just about fell out of my chair,” remembers Elwes. “I asked him, ‘So what did you guys talk about?’ And he said, ‘Mostly cricket.’ I just thought, gosh, Andre playing cricket. If only he'd played baseball. If anyone had given him a bat, he would’ve been Babe Ruth.”

Upon its release in 1987, The Princess Bride didn't become the box office bonanza everyone had anticipated, which Elwes mostly attributes to Fox’s lackluster publicity, the movie’s trailer and poster. “One of the reasons Goldman couldn’t get the movie made for ten years is that no studio had any idea what the demographic was,” he says. “Studios aren’t used to having multiple genres to pitch to their marketing department. So naturally they were stumped. They decided to focus on the image of the grandfather reading to his grandson, which is a beautiful image, but it really didn’t give an insight to the story.”

But thanks to home video, the film took on a new life, becoming the cult classic it is today. In 2011, Jason Reitman directed a staged reading at LACMA that included Elwes, Reiner, Mindy Kaling, Paul Rudd, Patton Oswalt and Nick Kroll. And the following year, Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse unveiled a movie-inspired line of wine to mark the 25th anniversary.
Elwes realized the movie had caught hold with the public when he stared hearing fans spouting lines.

“It was maybe a decade later that was in a restaurant and I was ordering food,” Elwes recounts, “and the waitress asked how I wanted my meat cooked, and I said medium rare, and she winked and said, ‘As you wish.’ That was the first time anyone had said that to me.”

Now that he’s stepping behind the camera to direct an upcoming biopic on the Who manager Kit Lambert, Elwes shares what he learned from Reiner: “He was incredibly collaborative, very nurturing to the actors and very decisive about what he wanted. He was clear on his vision. You're lucky if you work with directors like that. It makes your job as an actor so much easier.”

The Princess Bride was an unfilmable jinx.
“It was in one of those cinema books as one of the greatest screenplays ever written that had never been produced,” director Rob Reiner groans. Author William Goldman published the original The Princess Bride novel in 1973 and Fox immediately bought the movie rights for $500,000. That's a lot of ducats, but they still couldn't get the film made. Every director wanted to do it — some who make sense, like Norman Jewison (Moonstruck, Fiddler on the Roof) and John Boorman (Excalibur), and some you'd never suspect, like Richard Lester (A Hard Day's Night) and Francois Truffaut (The 400 Blows, Jules et Jim). Even Robert Redford threw his name in the ring, and could have done double duty as Westley. (Another almost-Westley: Christopher Reeve.) Reiner knew it'd be a struggle but he managed to get Goldman's blessing. Shrugged the novelist, “I mean, he wasn't Alfred Hitch****, but he's a great director.”

Chernobyl could have cost Cary Elwes the part.
The nuclear power meltdown happened just before Elwes — a handsome newbie who'd just turned down an offer from London's Royal Shakespeare Company — flew to East Germany to shoot Maschenka. The danger zone was eight hours away, near enough that Elwes was warned not to drink the local milk. Co-producers Andrew Scheinman and Rob Reiner were almost too spooked to visit Elwes on set for his final audition. Scheinman was so afraid of radiation that he sprinted from the taxi to the hotel lobby, forgetting his $1,000 jacket in the cab, and once inside he refused to touch even the bottled water. The pedigreed Elwes knew he looked the part — now he had to convince them he was funny. “Here I was, a British actor working in Berlin, and our conversation revolved largely around my recounting my favorite episodes of All in the Family,” he jokes. What sealed the deal: Elwes' Fat Albert impression. No kidding.

Buttercup and Westley were totally hot for each other in real life.
Here's Elwes remembering the first time he met then-20-year-old Robin Wright, then a soap opera star: “It was as if I were looking at a young Grace Kelly, she was that beautiful,” Elwes writes. “I couldn't concentrate on much of anything after that first encounter with Robin.” It was mutual. “I was absolutely smitten with Cary,” Wright confesses. “So obviously that helped our on-screen chemistry.” Santa Barbara added a year to Wright's contract in exchange for freeing her to do the movie, which Elwes thought was “kind of rotten, but she didn't complain.” Well, yeah.

Author William Goldman was so nervous the film would suck that he ruined the first day of filming.
The Princess Bride was his favorite of his books, and Goldman was scared the studio would screw it up. On day one, while shooting Buttercup and Westley in the Fire Swamp, the sound engineers noticed some bizarre background noise on the tapes. “It sounded like some strange incantation,” Elwes says. Goldman had been chanting prayers that the movie wouldn't suck. Reiner gave him a hug and told him to relax. But Goldman forgot that in the next scene, Wright's red dress had to deliberately catch fire. As soon as the gas geyser lit up her dress, Goldman burst out screaming, “OH, MY GOD! HER DRESS IS ON FIRE! SHE'S ON FIRE!!!” Later, he scolded Reiner: “You're setting fire to Robin on the first day?! What are you, nuts? It's not like we can replace her!”

The Greatest Swordfight in Modern Times is actually The Greatest Swordfight in Modern Times
Goldman spent months researching 17th-century swordfight manuals to craft Westley and Inigo's bravura fencing battle. Then Elwes and Mandy Patinkin spent more months perfecting it — right- and left-handed. Reiner hired the best coaches in Hollywood: Peter Diamond and Bob Anderson. Not only did both men train the original swashbuckler, Errol Flynn, they both worked on Star Wars, Diamond as the Tusken raider who surprises young Luke Skywalker on Tatooine, Anderson as the stunt double for Darth Vader.

But Elwes almost didn't get to fight a Rodent of Unusual Size.
Danny Blackner, a 4-foot-tall, heavily tattooed stunt guy, was hired to climb inside the 50-pound rubber rat suit and grapple with Elwes. But the night before, Blackner was arrested for drunk driving. Blackner begged the officer to let him go because he had a major job in the morning, but when he confessed what the job was, the cop sneered, “All right, I've heard enough, back of the van for you.” When no one could reach him in the morning, Elwes was told he'd have to wrestle a dummy. Finally, Blackner got sprung from jail, drove straight to set and climbed into the costume.

Arnold Schwarzenegger nearly played Fezzik the Giant.
The then-unknown bodybuilder was Norman Jewison's first pick. When Rob Reiner finally started making the film a decade later, he also considered Richard Kiel, James Bond's infamous Jaws.

Andre the Giant was the greatest human being on earth
At 7'4” and 540 pounds, Andre knew he was scary. (The first time Chris Sarandon's daughters saw him, they ran screaming.) To help people relax, Andre called everyone “Boss,” and when Robin Wright got the shivers between takes, he would warm her by resting a huge hand on her head, like a hat. One day, Andre casually mentioned that Waiting for Godot playwright Samuel Beckett used to drive him to school in rural France, after he grew too tall for the school bus. Beckett, who had hired Andre's father as a handyman, owned a convertible and took the top down to chauffeur Andre to class. Elwes asked what on earth the wrestler and the Nobel Prize winner talked about. Said Andre, “Mostly cricket.”

But, boy, could Andre the Giant drink.
In one night, Andre could polish off three bottles of cognac and 12 bottles of wine and feel only a little tipsy. He kept a flask of cognac in his costume, but his favorite drink was a monstrosity called “the American,” a 40-ounce beer pitcher filled with whatever booze he felt like that day: merlot, brandy, beer, vodka, whatever. The first time Andre the Giant and Robin Wright went out for dinner, he ordered four appetizers, five entrees and a case of wine. While bar-hopping with Elwes in New York, the two were politely tracked by an off-duty cop who was hired to keep an eye on Andre in case he fell over and hurt someone — again. (Andre generously bought the officer several drinks.) And the night of The Princess Bride's first script read-through, Andre got so drunk at the hotel bar that he passed out in the middle of the lobby. The hotel employees couldn't move him, so they put velvet ropes around his snoring corpse and told the maids not to vacuum until he woke up.

Naturally, Andre the Giant unleashed epic farts.
Elwes devotes three pages of his book to one truly memorable blast. Here's how he describes it: “A veritable symphony of gastric distress that roared for more than several seconds and shook the very foundations of the wood and plaster set where we were now grabbing on to out of sheer fear. ... The sonic resonance was so intense I even observed our sound man remove his headphones to protest his ears.” Between giggling fits, Elwes spotted what looked like steam rising from Andre's toupee. “It's OK,” chirped Andre. “My farts always made people laugh.”

No one liked how the movie was advertised.
How do you get adults to buy tickets to what sounds like a girly kiddie flick? The studio had no idea. With a dozen memorable characters to pick from, the marketers foolishly decided on a poster with just Fred Savage and Peter Falk. Elwes was mystified. “Granted that relationship was an integral part of the story, but we all felt, including Rob, that perhaps it wasn't the best angle to promote the movie.” Then Fox did such a hatchet job on the trailer that it was pulled from theaters. The film languished. Groaned Reiner to Fox head Barry Diller, “This is terrible. We've got a movie that everybody loves but we can't get anybody to come.”

Luckily, now The Princess Bride has very unexpected fans.
There's no better proof of The Princess Bride's impact on popular culture than these three Cary Elwes encounters. One Iraq veteran told him that every day, when his commanding officer would send the men out on dangerous patrols, he'd wave goodbye with, “Have fun storming the castle!” The soldier told Elwes, “That did a lot for morale.” Bill Clinton beamed that he'd seen the movie a hundred times and was thrilled with Elwes' offer to send him and Chelsea a signed script. But the most startling fan of all: Pope John Paul II, who shook hands with Elwes and gushed, “You are the actor! The one from The Princess and the Bride!” Elwes was startled — his Holiness knew the film? “Yes, yes,” the pope smiled. “Very good film. Very funny.”

Posted 22 January 2015 - 08:41 PM

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  • LocationDeepest, Darkest, South of England
Well, the hopes of some hard sci-fi hitting the big screen and proving a good book adaption :

I also foresee one line become a firm internet favourite and potential meme...

Posted 10 June 2015 - 12:10 PM

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  • LocationDeepest, Darkest, South of England
io9 - Hasbros Cinematic Universe has one hell of a writer's room

Remember those crazy plans to bring a bunch of Hasbro toy properties like G.I. Joe, Micronauts, and Rom into one hot, trendy cinematic universe? Well, those plans just took a huge step forward with the creation of a writers room that is filled with an absurd amount of talent for a movie franchise based around a bunch of ‘80s action figure.

Seriously, that’s not necessarily a knock on Hasbro’s movie universe (which will also include M.A.S.K. and Visionaries) but a testament to the almost obscene amount of talent that has been brought together for the writer’s room under the guidance of Akiva Goldsman. Look at this list:

◾The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay writer Michael Chabon
◾Y: The Last Man and Saga’s Brian K. Vaughan
◾Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain Marvel co-writer Nicole Perlman
◾Lindsey Beer, who’s penning the Kingkiller Chronicles movie adaptation
◾Luke Cage showrunner Cheo Coker
◾Spider-Man: Homecoming writers John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein
◾Black Panther writer Joe Robert Cole
◾Jeff Pinkner, who wrote script for The Dark Tower
◾Blacklist scriptwriter Nicole Riegel
◾Geneva Robertson, currently writing the Tomb Raider movie reboot

Holy moly. Brian K. Vaughan on Rom please? Pretty please?

Obviously, this doesn’t stop us from being completely unconcerned about Hasbro’s movie universe plans—I’m not sure there are many people out there really clamoring for a Visionaries cinematic experience—but it certainly makes us a lot more interested in seeing what comes from it.

Posted 21 April 2016 - 06:54 PM

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  • LocationDeepest, Darkest, South of England
Okay, this kind of makes me want to sit down and watch this one..

io9 - The Huntsman Winter's War is so bad its fantastically good

Back in 2012, a movie called Snow White and the Public Domain IP unexpectedly made almost $400 million. And that’s why today sees the release of a second film, Huntsman: The Contractual Obligation Movie (although for some reason the posters call it The Huntsman: Winter’s War. Go figure.) The Contractual Obligation Movie is about as bad as you’d expect, but it’s also surprisingly, insanely fun.

The startling thing about The Contractual Obligation Movie is what a brilliant cast it musters. Chris Hemsworth is back as the Huntsman (because he was contractually obligated), and so is Charlize Theron as Queen Ravenna. But also, Emily Blunt plays Queen Ravenna’s sister, Queen Freya, and Jessica Chastain plays the Huntsman’s long lost wife, Sara. Plus Nick Frost is back as a dwarf.

The film’s story, which I will not spoil (or really, attempt to explain) here, is something that would have been tailor-made for a direct-to-DVD spinoff, with all the lead roles recast with actors from Heroes and Smallville. It has that exact feeling to it, from the overwrought opening voiceover to the wobbly ending. The fact that we get to see this pointless, silly movie made with an A-list cast, instead, is one of the great marvels of our age, and is something that we should all be profoundly grateful for.

I just watched Snow White and the Public Domain IP the other day, so it’s fresh in my mind, and I can tell you that Huntsman: The Contractual Obligation Movie is way more fun. In that first movie, Charlize Theron goes batshit insane over and over again, chewing all of the scenery and just stealing the entire movie. But Kristen Stewart, meanwhile, really seems to think she’s in a serious historical drama, and Chris Hemsworth has been told to brood as hard as he possibly can. It kind of gets in the way of laughing at all of the ridiculousness, and makes Snow White kind of slow going.

In this new movie, though, everybody has gotten the same memo that Theron got the first time around. Hemsworth, in particular, is just goofing around, flashing his big silly smile in every scene, as if his character were named The Drunksman. He flirts with everybody. In fact, he’s basically playing Happy Thor the entire time. (But not enough shirtlessness.)

And pretty much everybody else involved treats The Contractual Obligation Movie with the gravity it deserves—they all take the piss out of it, which is part of what makes this movie So Bad It’s Good [TM] rather than just atrocious and boring. It’s very much in the same wheelhouse as Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, for example.

This is a film where Emily Blunt (wearing all white fetishwear and a sick alabaster bird tiara) rides around on a giant creature that is half polar bear, half tiger. It’s a film where Charlize Theron randomly turns into gold birds every now and then, without interrupting her latest hissing monologue.

This is also a film in which one of the main fight scenes includes a few clear shots of Chris Hemsworth’s stunt double, in spite of a lot of very determined shakey-cam. And some of the other big fights try vainly to rip off the big money shots from movies of 15 years ago, like the “run, do a backflip and stab something” shot.

And Jessica Chastain’s big contribution to the fun is to put on a wonderfully fake Scottish accent, that changes from scene to scene—or sometimes even within the same scene. She’s Peter Capaldi one moment, James Doohan the next.

This is also a film in which you’re supposed to be endlessly fascinated with dwarf gender politics—which amount to male dwarves thinking female dwarves are icky, for some reason. This is a joke that is run into the ground, and then proceeds to tunnel to the center of the Earth.

Actually, one of the main selling points of a movie like this one is its three divas, with their amazing dresses and super tuff attitudes. And no surprise, The Contractual Obligation Movie is a somewhat better film when Emily Blunt is trying to boss around Jessica Chastain, or having sisterly rivalry with Charlize Theron. When Chris Hemsworth stomps into the picture, looking outRAGEously pleased with himself, everything gets more fun, but also somewhat more forgettable into the bargain. This is a much more interesting movie when it’s about the ladies swooshing around in their amazing outfits, trying to one-up each other. (Or possibly seduce each other. Take your pick.)

Emily Blunt is playing, basically, the Ice Queen from Disney’s Frozen, except even more pissed off and miserable. She’s constantly turning people into ice statues and pouting, in between acts of crazy sadism. Of all the actors in this movie, Emily Blunt is probably trying the hardest to be taken somewhat seriously, even as she spouts increasingly unsayable dialogue about outlawing love and conquering everything. She’s like the anti-Charlize Theron, which makes their confrontations even more wild.

At the same time, it’s odd. The actual story of The Contractual Obligation Movie is dark as all fuck. No real spoilers, but it involves a murdered baby, and then lots and lots of other children getting abused and turned into soldiers. This film, among other things, is supposed to show why Chris Hemsworth was so broody in the Snow White film, but Hemsworth’s endlessly jolly smirk sort of undoes that idea, and this film keeps pivoting from the horrific to the horrendous with such alacrity that you sort of understand why everybody involved seems to have been well medicated (except Blunt).

Bottom line: The Contractual Obligation Movie—or, as the posters mistakenly call it, The Huntsman: Winter’s War—is a priceless treasure. Good movies come along pretty regularly, at least one every couple months, I guess. There’s never a shortage of good movies, right? But movies that are as sublimely bad as this one? They are a rare and precious treasure.

I say this as someone who just recently sat through Gods of Egypt, which was just tiresome and annoying in equal measure. If Gods of Egypt had included Chris Hemsworth mugging at the camera, or Jessica Chastain changing her accent every few minutes, or Emily Blunt scowling and turning to ice and riding around on a snow-leopard-bear, I would have dug it.

You have the means to enjoy Huntsman: The Contractual Obligation Movie. Just pour some of it into your 20-oz Slurpee container before entering the theater, or else bake it into cookies or brownies—depending on what kind of “enhancements” you prefer. The point is, in most years, there are only one or two movies—tops—that are this joyfully nonsensical. If you enjoy terrible fun, you should consider yourself obligated to check out The Contractual Obligation Movie.*

* And yes, the Monty Python reference is totally intentional. I kept hearing the phrase “’Tis a silly place” in my head, while I watched this movie.

Posted 22 April 2016 - 04:10 PM

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  • LocationA dry lakebed high in the mountains
If the movie is half as entertaining as that review, then I think that I must watch it.

Posted 22 April 2016 - 09:56 PM

~@~ Aquilegia is the genus name of the columbine, my favorite flower. They look like they must have faries living nearby.~@~

~@~My avatar picture is from the painting A Place of Her Own, by James C Christensen.~@~

  • LocationDeepest, Darkest, South of England
There's always time to look at Princess Bride stuff..

Posted 25 April 2016 - 05:56 PM

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