Once upon a time, when I was about 8, we were visiting my aunt’s family in New Jersey and decided to go to a movie. When we got to the theater, our first choice–“Three Men and a Baby”–was sold out; my parents looked for another movie at a similar time that was 8-year-old friendly, and came up with a show that fit the criteria, although none of us knew anything about it. About two hours later, we left the theater somewhat bemused. What sort of movie was that? It was funny, it was romantic, it was adventurous, and the dialogue was both witty and a little bit weird. Whatever we had expected, it wasn’t exactly what we got.
The movie was “The Princess Bride.”
Now, of course, it’s a household name–at least among the people I know–but at the time, we’d never heard of it. (Or Cary Elwes, with his how-the-heck-do-you-pronounce-that? last name.) We certainly didn’t realize it would become so terribly popular over the years, although its popularity seems eminently deserved. We just knew that the lines were funny, although the genre was undefinable. It wasn’t until years later that I read the book, which is possibly even funnier, but it didn’t take nearly that long to appreciate that fact that, solely by accident, we’d witnessed the debut of one of the best cult classics ever. Who hasn’t quoted–at least once–“My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die”? (By the way, I almost died when I realized that Inigo and Archibald Craven from my “Secret Garden” soundtrack are one and the same. That man is one impressive tenor.)
This really might be my favorite cult classic of all time, come to think of it. There are others I enjoy, some I actively dislike, and some I’ve never seen. What are your favorites?