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Cary Elwes with Joe Layden, Foreword by Rob Reiner
As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride
Touchstone / Simon & Schuster
US Hardcover First Edition
ISBN 978-1-476-76402-3
Publication Date: 10-14-2014
260 Pages; $26
Date Reviewed: 11-10-2014
Reviewed by: Rick Kleffel © 2014

Index:  Non-Fiction

It's easy enough to re-watch a movie, some more than others, but it's hard to tell just what will stand the test of time because it takes time. The Princess Bride, made in a simpler time, passed that test. Director Rob Reiner succeeded what a lot of directors had failed. He brought William Goldman's beloved book, about reading and the power of story, to the screen, with faith and an understated sensibility. What was not obvious to movie-going-crowds at the time became obvious over time. The Princess Bride is a classic.

Key to the success is the cast, and the central role in the movie was perfectly played by Cary Elwes. In 'As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride,' Elwes captures the making of the movie with the same charm the movie itself employs. The book is funny, sweet, charming, occasionally dashing and filled with the kind of details that readers can carry back into a re-reading of Goldman's original novel and a re-viewing of the movie itself. It's quirky, knows exactly what it wants to do and excels.

After a frank foreword by Rob Reiner ("'Nobody knows anything'"), Elwes tells us the many ways the movie is a classic in a well-wrought introduction. Then it's off to the movie-making with an impossibly young star getting the break of his life, in part due to his ability to impersonate Bill Cosby's Fat Albert.

Elwes has a strong sense of character and the best parts of the book involve his insights into the men and women who played the character in the movie. He has a long-running sort-of competition with Mandy Patinkin, fueled by their characters being set against one another in what the novel calls "the greatest swordfight in history." It's really entertaining to read all the work that went into this scene, pivotal because there are no effects and no doubles. (Other than a gymnast for a couple of flips.) This in fact underscores much of the charm in the movie. Reiner was a stickler for the genuine and the family feeling he brought to the production clearly had an impact on the final product.

Elwes gives a wonderful and elegiac portrait of André the Giant, a mischievous sort who managed to create more than a little trouble for Elwes. Goldman is a crispy father figure, Reiner, the fun Dad who brings all the great toys. No matter who you like in the cast, you'll see a different side to them here.

And that is the reason to read this book. Remembering that the movie is about a child being read a book, as is in the novel, Elwes' portrait of the production adds another Escher-like layer to the proceedings. Read this book and you can easily go back and watch the movie with a whole new level of enjoyment. The book is a true gift to fans of the movie and the original novel; in reading 'As You Wish,' your wish to re-experience a beloved work of art if it were the first time is brought to life.

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