Rob Reiner is faithful to William Goldman’s novel The Princess Bride, for which Goldman wrote the screenplay.  “Indeed,” he writes in the novel, Vizzini, “had set out a little picnic spread. From the knapsack that he always carried, he had taken a small handkerchief, and on it, he has placed two wine goblets. In the center was a small leather wine holder and, beside it, some cheese and some apples.”

Though the cloth is neatly arrayed, the nefarious Vizzini is jabbing a dagger at Princess Buttercup’s throat. Attempting to save her, the Pirate Robert, the Man in Black, matches wits over who will drink from a poisoned goblet.

Dread Pirate Robert (Cary Elwes) and Vizzini (Wallace Shawn) discuss drinking for a poisoned goblet. Blindfolded, Buttercup (Robin Wright) sits stoically.

Thinking that he is brilliant and clever, Vizzini disingenuously asks, “But it’s so simple. All I have to do is divine from what I know of you. Are you the sort of man who would put the poison into his own goblet or his enemy’s?” He answers this question many times before drinking, but when he does, Vizzini is so confident he brags: “You only think I guessed wrong! That’s what’s so funny! I switched glasses when your back was turned! Ha ha! You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well-known is this: never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!! Ha ha ha!” And he falls dead!

Featured Image: Vizzini (Wallace Shawn) sitting at a stone table set for a picnic threatens Buttercup (Robin Wright).

See William Goldman. The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973; Rob Reiner. The Princess Bride (1987). Screenplay by William Goldman is based on his novel.