are certain films that hold a unique place in history… and Hollywood
had better keep their grubby, remaking mitts off of them! While the
trend to “re-imagine” or “re-envision” everything around them has been
going on for some time, these films have so far managed to escape the
fate of some of their less fortunate compatriots. I speak of course
The 25 Movies They’d Better Never Remake.
films are not just near and dear to our hearts, they should be
considered OFF-LIMITS to those jerks at the studios. The films on this
list were special when they premiered and continue to be so today, and
we’re going to explain why they shouldn’t be remade – as well as why
they can’t be. So enough jabbering, on with the list!
The Princess Bride (1987)
DIRECTED BY: Rob Reiner
WRITTEN BY: William Goldman (based on his own book)
STARRING: Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, André the Giant, Wallace Shawn, Christopher Guest, Peter Falk, Fred Savage, Billy Crystal, and Carol Kane.
A boy (Savage) is sick in bed. To pass the time his grandfather (Falk) reads him a story – the story of Buttercup (Wright) and the poor boy she falls in love with, Wesley (Elwes). When Wesley leaves to seek his fortune, so the two may marry, he is captured and killed by the Dread Pirate Roberts. Sometime later Buttercup is chosen as the bride for the prince of Florin, Prince Humperdink (Sarandon), but before their wedding can take place Buttercup is kidnapped by a motley trio of outlaws – the tiny and egotistic Vizzini (Shawn), the proud Spanish swordsman Inigo Montoya (Patinkin), and the Greenlandic giant Fezzik (the only member of the cast with “the Giant” in his name). Humperdink pursues Buttercup, as does a mysterious man in black. Long exciting story made short: the man in black is Wesley, who is now a witty badass. He’s alive! But things become complicated for the reunited lovers when we learn the truth behind Buttercup’s kidnapping.
The Princess Bride is that rare and truly special caliber of film that is revered and adored with cultish fervor by males and females in equal measures. Which is no small feat considering it has the female demo hot-words “princess” and “bride” in the title, so in theory getting males excited for this film is roughly equivalent to getting ladies excited for a movie called The Boob Monster. What is really impressive is that the title is not misleading; this is a extremely girlie movie. Royal weddings, dreamboatie stable boys, endless talk of true love, kissing atop horses. Yet it is also extremely male. Sword fights, a giant, endless talk of honor, rats of unusual size.
What makes William Goldman’s script – and Rob Reiner’s quiet handling of the material – so surprising is that it goes hard for both the romance and the action. Pirates of the Caribbean has romance, but it is the watered down kind we expect from all studio films, the kind that execs know won’t turn teenage boys away. Bride is goddamn gushy. I think Fred Savage’s character speaks for every guy out there upon their first viewing the film when he stops the proceedings and asks, “Hold it, hold it. What is this? Are you trying to trick me? Where’s the sports? Is this a kissing book?” Peter Falk assures him (and us boys) that it’ll get better. Falk is right, and by the end we’re so invested in the story that when Falk cuts things short right before the big final kiss, saying, “Ah, it’s kissing again. You don’t want to hear that.” Once more Savage speaks for all the boys out there when he says…
“I don’t mind so much.”
Generally when we refer to a film as “charming” we mean it wasn’t that great but was pleasant to watch in a warm fuzzy way, like an elementary school Thanksgiving play. When I call The Princess Bride charming I mean it in the highest possible sense of the word – charming like James Bond is charming. Goldman’s script oozes with effortless charm, and a Howard Hawksian wit. The film is gloriously old-fashion in both content and in Reiner’s staging, which made (and makes) it an anachronistic breath of fresh air on the modern action-adventure cinema landscape. A bit of Douglass Fairbanks swashbuckling never hurt anyone.
Few modern writers have been able to do banter quite like Goldman, and he never had a larger and better selection of characters to give his quippy exchanges to. Bride‘s script is so marvelous that the movie still would have been fairly decent even in the hands of a director who didn’t understand it. Rob Reiner very justifiably gets a lot of shit these days for being a hack, but back in the 80’s the man had the goods. And he got Goldman’s story and dialogue. He also got the perfect cast.
The fact that Cary Elwes never became a big star after this movie surprised at lot of early Bride fans, as the man kills it as Wesley. But it is Reiner’s casting of the supporting roles that is truly inspired. Like casting his This Is Spinal Tap cohort Christopher Guest wildly against type as the villainous and extremely humorless six-fingered man, or nabbing playwright and then sometimes actor, Wallace Shawn (best known at the time for My Dinner With Andre) for the meaty scene-stealing role of Vizzini. Enough cannot be said about Mandy Patinkin’s instantly iconic turn as the vengeance-questing Inigo. And I don’t want to know anyone who can sit through this movie and not go crazy for Andre the Giant. Seriously, how is that even possible? Fezzik is quite simply one of the most likable film characters ever. Ever. Rounding out the bit parts with great British comedians like Mel Smith, as the albino monk, and Peter Cook, as the speech-impedimented wedding officiator, wasn’t a bad idea either.
Just thinking about this film is making me happy. As is looking at this still…
- “As you wish.”
- The rhyming game Inigo and Fezzik play.
- The cliffs of insanity swordfight – “I’m not really left handed.”
- The iocane powder battle of wits.
- The fire-swamp.
- Humperdink’s crazy torture machine.
- “He’s only mostly dead.”
- Peter Cook’s clergyman – “Mah-waj.” “Wuv, twoo wuv.”
- Inigo facing off against the six-fingered man – “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
- Wesley explaining to Humperdink what “to the pain” means.
- “Since the invention of the kiss there have been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind.”
WHY A REMAKE WOULD MAKE ME RUN OFF SCREAMING
Because the film holds up and is still finding new younger audiences every year. That’s the boring answer. Creatively the problem is that as anachronistic as the film was in the late 80’s, it would be even more out of place now. Now it would need to be bigger and louder and crazier. Only someone with incredible clout would be allowed to remake Bride as soft and laid back as it should be. And no one with that kind of clout would waste their time remaking it. The film would get whizzbanged into a Prince of Persia nightmare. I also don’t see it finding a comparably great cast. I can buy that a worthy Wesley and Buttercup could be found, but there’s no way they’ll match the trio of kidnappers. There is no new Andre the Giant.
Bay’s been producing remakes all over town, using his Platinum Dunes
company as a front. So naturally he’d be the logical choice to spearhead
any attempt at remaking this classic. How would it pan out, you ask?
- Impressed by his handling of the humor and action in Live Free or Die Hard, PD snags Len Wiseman to helm the project, from a new script by Ryan Murphy.
- Inspired by The Pirates of Penzance, Wiseman proposes turning the remake into a musical to set it apart from the original. PD loves the idea.
- It is decided to lose the Grandpa/Grandson framing device, because it is unnecessary and the newly added musical numbers are already padding out the run-time.
- After Amanda Seyfried passes on the role of Buttercup, Blake Lively successfully lobbies for the part.
- Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson‘s Benjamin Walker initially wins the part of Wesley, but it is ultimately decided they need a bigger star. So Justin Timberlake is given the role. Walker is bumped down to Inigo.
- Nathan Lane takes the role of Vizzini. Gerard Butler is cast as Prince Humperdink. Billy Crystal reprises his roles a Miracle Max.
- Having a hard time finding a giant who can sing, it is decided that Fezzik will be an entirely life-like CG character, with Jason Segel providing the voice (in what is effectively an Andre impression).
- Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz and Patrick Stump are tapped to do the songs, aided by veteran composer Marc Shaiman. Inigo’s big show stopper, “Hello, My Name Is (Prepare To Die)” is excellent and catchy, but the rest of the soundtrack is middling.
- Wanting more excitement and action in the early portions of the film, it is decided that we should see Wesley’s adventure with the Dread Pirate Roberts.
- It is also decided that audiences will be disappointed that Wesley can’t fight during Act III, so now Miracle Max is able to restore him to perfect health, allowing him to get into a huge swordfight with Humperdink – killing Humperdink at the end.
Rob Reiner got interested in the project after his father, comedy legend Carl Reiner, gave him a copy of Goldman’s book, saying it would make a fabulous movie. Goldman had been trying to get the movie made since the 70’s, at one point courting a then lesser known Arnold Schwarzenegger for Fezzik (after Andre refused to read the script). Speaking of Fezzik, here’s a cute bit – during production, when Robin Wright would get cold standing around in her dresses, Andre would keep her warm by placing his gigantic hand around her head. Aww.
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