Though an author of myriad books and plays, William Goldman is perhaps best known for his tale-within-a-tale of love and loss, capture and rescue, action and adventure. The 1973 fantasy romance novel The Princess Bride was a smashing success when it hit bookstore shelves, and to this day, Goldman cites it as the work on which he has received the most overwhelmingly positive feedback. In the 1979 book William Goldman, by Richard Andersen, Goldman says, "I've gotten more responses on The Princess Bride than on everything else I've done put together—all kinds of strange outpouring letters. Something in The Princess Bride affects people." It's perhaps no surprise, then, that the 1987 film adaptation, for which Goldman also wrote the screenplay, has become such a famous cultural staple, easily quoted by people who weren't even alive at the time it was released in theaters.
There are many aspects of the film The Princess Bride that audiences love: its touching sense of humor; the way it so effectively parodies older tales of swashbuckling adventures like Robin Hood and The Count of Monte-Cristo, while managing to retain a genuine, heartfelt story and moral of its own; the memorable catchphrases; the absurd scenarios of peril and the unlikely ways that the characters escape them; and, of course, the all-star cast of characters, from Mandy Patinkin and Wallace Shaw to brief appearances by Billy Crystal and Carol Kane. Though perhaps unintentionally, The Princess Bride proved to filmmakers and novelists alike that a story can be epic, stirring, and memorable without taking itself too seriously.
The novel was initially slated for film adaptation not long after its release, when 20th Century Fox bought the film rights and hired Goldman to write the screenplay. However, when the head of production at Fox was fired, production of the film was postponed. Goldman eventually bought back the rights to the film, believing that it wouldn't get made. Over the next decade, the film nearly came to fruition several other times, before Rob Reiner finally secured the funds and hired Goldman as screenwriter once again.
Despite its present-day fame, the movie only performed modestly at the box office. It wasn't until it was released on home video that it became a cult classic. It now holds a 97% rating on the review aggregating website Rotten Tomatoes, and in both 2006 and 2013 was awarded the 84th spot on the Writers' Guild of America's 100 Best Screenplays of All Time.