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As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride Paperback – October 4, 2016
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"An engaging memoir that charts the film's tumultuous journey from a project stuck in development hell, to charmed production, to flop, to classic." ― Chicago Tribune
“Cary Elwes' book recounts the wacky antics of Billy Crystal, Rob Reiner, and others behind 'The Princess Bride'… . [A] delightful remembrance of the three months he spent making the unsung movie that went on to become a family classic.” ― New York Daily News
“A tender, comical behind-the-scenes look at the 1987 classic.” ― US Weekly
“Designed to hit all fan-service sweet spots for folks familiar with the film, as it’s stuffed with photos, recollections, and interviews with relevant parties. The book’s dust jacket is even a Shepard Fairey print, for crying out loud. I never had a chance.” ― The A.V. Club
“Filled with fun tidbits from the cast about making a movie that became an unlikely classic.” ― Los Angeles Magazine
“This is an entertaining tale of how 24-year-old Elwes learned how to ride a horse in the Rob Reiner adaptation of William Goldman’s screenplay (and original, brilliant book).” ― Flavorwire.com
“[A] fascinating memoir…Cary Elwes has proved that he is as adept with the mighty pen as he is with the powerful sword. …A treasure trove of fascinating behind-the-scenes accounts…As You Wish is thoughtfully and seamlessly compiled.” ― New Orleans Living Magazine
“The movie 'The Princess Bride' achieved a certain cinematic magic, which Elwes (Westley) captures in his warm and revealing behind-the-scenes account.” ― Publishers Weekly
“Even if you don’t have a crush on Cary Elwes, you’ll enjoy this vivid behind-the-scenes account of the making of 'The Princess Bride'. His stories, especially those involving Andre the Giant, will leave you in stitches. Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Billy Crystal, and others also recount their experiences. An amusing account of a group of performers who came together to make a heartfelt film that is loved by many.” ― Library Journal
About the Author
Award-winning journalist and bestselling author Joe Layden has written more than thirty books for adults and children, including the critically acclaimed title, The Last Great Fight and the #1 New York Times bestseller The Rock Says. He lives in Saratoga Springs, New York, with his wife, Susan, and their two children.
- Publisher : Atria Books; Reprint edition (October 4, 2016)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 272 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1476764042
- ISBN-13 : 978-1476764047
- Item Weight : 9.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.38 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #16,030 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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The book does not disappoint and the short review is thus:
If you're a fan of THIS movie, just buy the book.
If you'd like a behind the scenes look of what goes on to get a movie made, buy this book. I can't emphasize this enough. By twenty-five percent in, I'd already learned more about the process of making a movie (findind the talent, what it feels like to learn to sword fight, the purpose of a table-read, et al) than any other book or show I've ever seen. If you've never seen "The Princess Bride" - it's not required.
If you're the type of person who likes to watch A&E Biographies or VHI1's "Behind the Music" or even "Inside The Actor's Studio" with James Lipton - BUY THIS BOOK.
If you're looking for a gritty, largely negative tell-all, you'll be disappointed.
My longer review (largely spoiler free):
The first thing that struck me about the telling was the light tone of the book. The first several times I read "as you wish" (the phrase in the book - which shows up a few times in the first five or so pages), I did cringe a little bit. I also very quickly picked up that Mr. Elwes gives what I could only think of as a "rose colored glasses look back" at how the movie came to be.
But you know what? It works wonderfully. A lovingly crafted movie about a fairy tale deserves a fairy tale look back at how it all came to be. One also begins to realize that Cary landed the role and played the part like his real life had taken on fairy tale proportions as well.
The book is not perfect. There are a few times where Mr. Elwes is a bit repetitive, and perhaps a few times where some segments go on longer than they need to. However, I still give it five stars because overall, the book is extremely engaging - a page burner, if you will. More importantly, we get to see a veritible diary's honesty as if written in between takes of the movie.
The author is quite self-deprecating and one can't express enough how refreshing it is. Once again, I find myself wishing, like I did back in 1987, that I could see Cary Elwes up on screen a whole lot more.
Once I started getting deeper into the "story", as it were, Cary really finds his voice. I had no idea going in that this wasn't just a bunch of cutesy stories about how Andre got drunk or other tidbits you might hear about on set. No way. Again, in a very conversational tone by someone who obviously loved the experience, Cary regales us with inifinite details that frankly, I'm astounded he remembers. Right down to snacks being served on silver platters in one of the hotels.
I loved his chapter on sword-fighting. Granted, I'm a fantasy/sci-fi geek from way back who thought the swordfight in the movie was absolutely fantastic, but hearing how much he had to train and work for that scene only gave me greater appreciation for the effort. (Probably not the least of one of his reasons for devoting a bit of time for that in his book! Mr. Elwes had to work his butt off!)
One other note about the tone of the book: I can nearly hear Cary's "English Accent" as he narrates the book. (I put that in quotes, because I can't think of Cary Elwes without thinking of his line from "Robin Hood: Men in Tights" where he says, "Unlike some Robin Hoods, I can speak with an English Accent!") ;) I almost started to feel like a new actor on a set, he relays the feelings that well. Cary, if I may call him that, lets you get inside his head, revealing his own insecurities and feelings.
There were many points while reading that I found myself smiling. I had to come back to this review to point that out. It's quite simply, that enjoyable of a read.
The book is also surprisingly hefty. I figured.. "How many anecdotes can this guy tell? I mean, I love the movie and I've been a fan of Cary Elwes since he made it, but .. haven't we heard them all?"
Not by a long shot. And the (numerous!) quotes from Rob Reiner and other cast members were a complete joy to read and something of a surprise, since I didn't know they were included as well.
One thing about some actors that has made me cringe is when beloved movies become an embarrassment for them. The fear of type casting is taken to new heights (or whatever their motivation). Sure, I can appreciate an actor begrudging that a movie you make when you're 25 is the greatest thing you've ever done - and you always want to think that your best is yet to come.
Thankfully, Mr. Elwes has never been "that guy" and it shows in the book he's written. One can tell from reading that he understood how lucky he was at the time and has appreciated it ever since. It warms the heart finding out that he's as much a fan of the story (and eventually, of the movie) as any other fan was.
You know how some DVD bonuses involve actors or directors running around with behind the scenes cameras? Getting to see the creation of the movie? "The Lord of the Rings" comes to mind and on the "Dread Pirate Roberts" version of the DVD, this film has a fair amount. But, no amount of behind the scenes started when Cary Elwes was still on the set of another movie...it's that comprehensive.
Besides there never seems to be enough footage - a fan of the movie or a movie buff can't get enough of this stuff. I know in my case, I couldn't put the book down!
Just like there's a shortage of perfect... tell-alls, in this world (Sorry, had to go there! What fan wouldn't include his/her favorite quote? :) ) It would be a pity if you missed this one.
While the thoughts and perspectives of most of the important pieces of the puzzle are represented, it was disappointing to have some of them read by other people. Also, it seemed a little jerry-rigged to hear some people’s parts phoned in. Literally. There were some that sounded like they were taken off an old answering machine tape. I think the payoff would have really been worth it if everyone had participated and a more homogeneous recording environment would have been used. But in the end, it was better to have those great nuggets of insight than not. I guess I am greedy. The stories were so good, I want the full experience.
The other thing that was kind of strange is that I started out and got used to Cary’s voice and carriage and at one point, it changed. It was so drastic that I actually thought I had missed an introduction of a person and was listening to someone else’s take on the story. I went back, but there was no introduction...and as I continued to listen, it became obvious that it was still Cary...he just sounded so different! Not sure if that session had been taped at a different location or perhaps a role he had been playing at the time was effecting his performance, but it was a moment of confusion that took me out of the usually enjoyable experience this audiobook provided.
Though not a diehard fan of the Princess Bride, I have a much greater appreciation of this wonderful story, the group of people that came together to bring it to life, and the movie itself. It really was a lot of fun to go on this journey with these people. After listening to this, I bought the 25th anniversary version so I could watch the movie again and bought the book the movie was based on. This audiobook was that good. :)
Top reviews from other countries
From start to finish the book was a joy. Everyone involved in the film seems to have a deep love of the story itself and of the movie they produced, and this really comes across from the start, including their disappointment when it failed at the box office which turned into joy when it found its audience after it was released on video. The book tells the story from the beginning, with Elwes winning the part, meeting his fellow cast members, and follows the production right the way through to its release and beyond. It's written in a charmingly enthusiastic style, and the text is peppered with boxed-out comments from cast and crew members, and a small selection of pictures is included at the end of the Kindle edition.
If you're looking for an academic text on the art of storytelling and film making, this book may disappoint. If on the other hand you're looking for a hugely entertaining book about a film you love or have previously enjoyed, and that will make you want to watch it all over again, this is definitely for you.
It helps of course that I love the movie The Princess Bride, and since this book is written by the main star Cary Elwes, it was an absolute treat to read!
He talks through the whole process. From being cast in the film, meeting his co-stars for the first time, the table reading, getting fitted for his costumes, learning to sword fight ready for the epic duel in the movie - all the way to his last day of filming and the eventual release of the movie.
He also shares some highly amusing stories about some of his co-stars, including André the Giant and the epic fart he did during one of the takes that left them all with the giggles.
This is a hugely enjoyable book and a must-read for anyone who’s a fan of The Princess Bride!