W is for — Westley from William Goldman’s The Princess Bride
“As you wish.”
Whenever “farm boy” Westley said these words to Buttercup, he was really saying, “I love you.” Buttercup’s realization of this ignited a love so true, it survived pirates, kidnapping, evil princes, Cliffs of Insanity, a Fire Swamp, and the Pit of Despair.
The Princess Bride is one of my favorite movies, and Westley, played by Cary Elwes, is a perfect hero. He’s smart, strong, and capable, and his love for Buttercup never wavers. He’s an expert with a sword, too, which lifts him even higher in my estimation.
One of my favorites scenes in the movie is Westley’s sword duel with the Spaniard, Inigo Montoya, whom I wrote about in last year’s A to Z “I” post. The moments leading up to the duel are quite funny, too.
Elwes recently published a book called As You Wish that tells about everything that went on behind the scenes during the making of The Princess Bride. According to an article I read about the book, Bride author William Goldman spent a great deal of time researching 17th century swordfighting to create the duel, and Elwes and Mandy Patinkin, who played Inigo, spent more months learning to fence both right and left handed. Elwes and Patinkin performed every part of the duel themselves, except for the somersaults. They were trained by the legendary sword master and stunt man Bob Anderson, whose credits include being the stunt double for Darth Vader’s light saber battles and training the one and only Errol Flynn.
© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2015. All rights reserved.
R is for — Robin Hood, legendary outlaw and hero of Sherwood Forest
When someone mentions Robin Hood, my first thought is of the 1938 movie with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland. I love their portrayals of Robin and Maid Marian, and there’s enough action and sword fighting for a rousing good time. Heroes of Sherwood Forest, Robin Hood and his Merry Men battle the evil Prince John and his thugs, Guy of Gisbourne and the cowardly Sheriff of Nottingham, protecting the weak and stealing from the rich to give to the poor.
As much as I love the movie, I like the book even more. I read Paul Creswick’s 1917 edition, which differs quite a bit from the movie and gives an in-depth portrayal of Robin of Locksley’s life from a young boy, through adulthood, to his sad end. The rich details and background make his story that much more compelling. The reader gets to see what made him the man he was.
According to the legend, Robin of Locksley lived during the reign of King Richard the Lionheart, who ruled England in the Middle Ages, during the twelfth century. It’s not known for certain if the legend is based on fact or fancy, but it’s the kind of story that everyone wants to believe in — where good triumphs over evil and tyranny is thrown down.
I’ve enjoyed many versions of the Robin Hood story over the years, from books, movies, and even cartoons. The most outlandish adaptation was Rocket Robin Hood, a Canadian cartoon that aired in the late 1960s and had Robin and his merry band fighting Prince John in outer space on the New Sherwood Planet Asteroid in the year 3000. My favorite version, and by far the funniest, is the 1958 Warner Brothers Merrie Melodies Robin Hood Daffy, with Daffy Duck in the title role and Porky Pig as Friar Tuck. I’ve seen it a thousand times, and it still makes me giggle like I did when I first saw it as a kid. For those who like cartoons, here’s a link to it.
Robin Hood Daffy
Photo Credit: Wikipedia