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The Princess Bride: Dueling Banjos Review – Synopsis!!

Review Date: 6-23-09
Release Date: 9-25-87
Runtime: 98 min.
Period: period-non-period, vaguely 14th – 16th century
Costume Designer: Phyllis Dalton

Hi Frocktalk readers!!  Welcome to the DUELING BANJOS review of The Princess Bride with Maggie from THE COSTUMER’S GUIDE!!  To start things off, I am posting the synopsis of the film by itself.  Enjoy!!!

The movie starts with a sick young boy (Fred Savage) in bed playing a video game.  His mother comes in to alert him to the arrival of his grandfather (Peter Falk).  The kid greets the news with annoyance, complaining that grandpa always pinches his cheek.  Grandpa has brought a special book with him to read to his sick grandson, The Princess Bride, by S. Morgenstern.  It’s the book that his grandfather read him, and that he read to the kid’s father, and now he’s going to read it to the kid.

The kid is skeptical – are there any sports in the book?  Plenty – fencing, fighting, monsters, and true love.  Grandpa begins reading the book, and the movie takes us into another time and place.  The rest of the movie is intercut with small snippets of the kid and the grandpa, and with the bulk of the movie, the fairytale told in the book.

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful young girl named Buttercup (Robin Wright Penn) who lived on a farm.  Her main delight in life was to tease and order around the poor, handsome young farm boy named Westley (Cary Elwes).  He catered to her every whim, answering each of her requests with, “As you wish”.  She soon began to realize that every time he said, “As you wish”, he was really saying “I love you”.  She soon found herself besotted with him, as well.

(Switching to present tense now, for ease of writing)

Westley decides to leave the farm to make his fortune, so that he can have enough money to marry Buttercup.  Westley pledges his love to Buttercup, promising her that he will return.  Nothing can keep them apart, because they have true love.  She soon gets news that Westley’s boat was overtaken by the Dread Pirate Roberts and his gang of pillagers.  They murdered Westley.  She vows to never love again.

Five years later.  The de facto ruler of the land, the evil Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon), has chosen Buttercup to be his bride.  She doesn’t really have a say in the matter, as it is his royal privilege to take a bride of his choosing.  Buttercup is miserable about this situation, and her only solace is found riding horses in the woods.  On one such ride, she encounters a trio of “circus performers” who end up actually being mercenaries, and they kidnap her.

Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), the mastermind, rigs her horse with some fabric from the enemy’s uniform, and lets the horse go.  He hopes that Prince Humperdinck and his followers will start a way with Guilder, their enemies, because of the kidnapping.

Vizzini is aided in his efforts by Spanish swordsman Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin) and giant Fezzik (Andre the Giant).  Inigo is on a singular quest of his own, to find the six-fingered man who killed his father, and to avenge his death.

Nighttime.  The trio is on a boat with their blindfolded hostage Buttercup, and they soon discover that they are being followed by another boat.  In the confusion, Buttercup jumps overboard in an attempt to escape.  Unfortunately, the waters in which they are travelling are infested with human-eating shrieking eels.  Buttercup is hoisted out of the water, and the boat sails into a cove, landing at the Cliffs of Insanity.

Vizzini instructs Fezzik to climb a rope leading to the top of the cliffs, with all three of them (Inigo, Buttercup and Vizzini) strapped to his massive body.  Fezzik climbs, and soon they realize that a masked man in black is following them, climbing the rope behind them.  The three get to the top of the cliff, and Vizzini instructs Inigo to kill him.  Vizzini then severs the rope that holds the masked man in black, and leaves with Buttercup and Fezzik.

The masked man in black makes it to the top of the cliffs, and he and Inigo fight with swords.  It is a great duel, as both men are masters of fencing/swordfighting.  In the end, the masked man conks Inigo on the head and runs to catch up with Vizzini and Buttercup.

Fezzik, however, is waiting for him around the bend.  They engage in a battle of strength – Fezzik throws rocks at the masked man, and in return he jumps on Fezzik’s back, slowly strangling him.  The giant falls, and the masked man rolls him over, wishing him pleasant dreams about big women.

Finally, the masked man reaches Vizzini and Buttercup.  She is once again blindfolded, and Vizzini holds a knife to her throat.  Appealing to Vizzini’s arrogance, the masked man challenges him to a battle of wits.  The masked man pours deadly iocane powder into cups of wine.  Which cup holds the poison?  This is the battle of wits.  After much discussion, Vizzini chooses a cup, and they both drink.  In the middle of a smug soliloquy, Vizzini keels over, dead.  Turns out that the poison was in both cups, but that the masked man had spent years developing an immunity to it.

The masked man takes Buttercup away from her captors, and they get into an argument.  Buttercup pushes him down a steep hill, and as he falls, he bellows, “AS YOU WISH!”  Realizing that the masked man is actually Westley, Buttercup hurls herself over the hill to catch up with him.  Much thumping, bumping, and rolling down the hill ensues.  It’s a big hill.

Reunited at last, Westley and Buttercup vow to escape Prince Humperdinck and his vile minions, who are following close behind.  In an effort to escape them, Westley and Buttercup enter the perilous Fireswamp, from which no one has ever escaped alive.  After encounters with lightning sand, fire and rodents of unusual size, they emerge, worse for wear, on the other side.  Right into the arms of Prince Humperdinck and his henchmen.

Buttercup negotiates to spare Westley’s life – she will marry Humperdinck if he releases Westley to his ship.  She doesn’t reveal his true identity.  Westley, disappointed, is carted off by Count Rugen (Christopher Guest).

Count Rugen takes Westley to his dungeon, called the Pit of Despair, where, attended to by an albino (Mel Smith), he becomes the test subject for Count Rugen’s new torture machine.  Slowly, excruciatingly, he shaves years off of Westley’s life.

Meanwhile, Inigo and Fezzik find each other in the Forest of Theives.  They agree to team up to find the six-fingered man, and they need the masked man’s help to find him.  They set off in search of the masked man.

Inigo and Fezzik find Westley/the masked man left for dead in the Pit of Despair.  At this point, Inigo recognizes Count Rugen as the six-fingered man, and the chase is on.   It is the wedding day of Buttercup and Prince Humperdinck, and they need to move quickly.  In order to bring Westley back to life, they need a miracle.  Fezzik and Inigo take Westley to the local medicine man/witch doctor, Miracle Max.  He breathes life into Westely, and sends them on their way.

Using Fezzik’s strength, Inigo’s swordsman skills, and Westley’s nimble mind (and only his mind, because his body is limp and unable to function after the torture), the three set off to crash the castle and save Buttercup.  They dress Fezzik up in a cape, put him in a wheelbarrow and set him on fire.  This disperses the guards, and allows them entrance.

The wedding of Buttercup and Prince Humperdinck is in full swing.  The Prince asks the impressive clergyman (Peter Cook) to hurry it up, and he pronounces them married.  Fezzik, Inigo and Westley search the castle for Buttercup, and instead run into Count Rugen.  Here is Inigo’s chance.  “Hello.  My name is Inigo Montoya.  You killed my father.  Prepare to die”.  And with that, Inigo starts a sword fight with Count Rugen, and eventually gets his revenge.

Westley turns up in Buttercup’s room as she is about to kill herself.  Prince Humperdinck enters.  Westley musters the strength to stand and point his sword at the Prince, who, in his cowardice, surrenders.  They tie him to a chair, and escape through the window, where Fezzik waits with white horses.  They ride off into the night, free.  True love triumphs, and they all live happily ever after.  The end.

Here come the reviews…


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