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SoundTRAX: "The Princess Bride"

Cary Elwes and Robin Wright hold hands.
Warner Bros.
20th Century Fox

SoundTRAX is a dive into notable music from iconic films and TV shows every Monday-Thursday at 8:10.

What's the first thing you think of when you hear the name of actor Mandy Patinkin?

Yep, me too. And since it's Patinkin's 70th birthday, it's the perfect excuse to feature The Princess Bride.

It all started with a 1973 novel by William Goldsmith, which tells the tale of young love between a farmhand named Westley and the beautiful Buttercup. There are dastardly villains, a swashbuckling vigilante, a giant, and Rodents of Unusual Size that complicate things tremendously.

Rob Reiner was given the book as a child by his father, the brilliant Carl Reiner, and the future actor and filmmaker dreamed of one day adapting it for the big screen. After the successes of This Is Spinal Tap and Stand By Me, he figured the time was now— which turned out to be harder than he thought.

For years studios and other high-profile directors had tried and failed to make it happen. But Reiner had something the others didn't: legendary TV producer Norman Lear, the person who made Reiner a star on his groundbreaking classic All in the Family. Lear helped bankroll the project so Reiner, working closely with author Goldsmith, got started assembling what would be the perfect cast.

In addition to Birthday Boy Patinkin, Cary Elwes was given the role of Westley and Robin Wright made her film debut as Buttercup. There was also Chris Sarandon and Reiner's Spinal Tap cohort Christopher Guest, Wallace "Inconceivable" Shawn, and much to the surprise of many, wrestler André the Giant. The French-speaking André learned his lines phonetically with a recording of Reiner reading his lines. And he's utterly charming.

And yes, there are several funny cameos, but none better than Reiner's best friend Billy Crystal as Miracle Max and Carol Kane as his wife, Valerie. They were encouraged to improv their scene and a lot of what they came up with ended up in the movie.

But the music is nearly a one man show: famed Dire Straits frontman and guitarist Mark Knopfler. Reiner was a fan and sent the script to him hoping he would agree to score the film. Knopfler jokingly agreed on one condition: that the baseball cap Reiner wore as Marty DiBergi in This is Spinal Tap would appear somewhere in the film.

And it does, on the bedpost in the scenes with Fred Savage and Peter Falk as the young boy and his grandfather reading him the story.

Knopfler's score is stunning and magical and all the things a fairy tale should be.

But for today's SoundTRAX selection I'm going with his only collaboration on the album, one that was a surprise for me. One I thought Knopfler wrote and sang himself. Turns out he turned to another artist he admired for a song of theirs he thought would be perfect— Willy Deville of the band Mink Deville. It was so perfect it garnered a "Best Original Song" Oscar nomination.

So from The Princess Bride it's Willy DeVille accompanied by Mark Knopfler, with "Storybook Love."

Mel is the WFPK morning host. Email Mel at mfisher@lpm.org.

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