William Goldman, Screenwriter of ‘The Princess Bride,’ Dies at 87
Deadline reports that William Goldman has died. “His health had been failing for some time,” Mike Fleming writes, “and over the summer his condition deteriorated.” Goldman was 87 years old.
He was also one of the most successful and influential screenwriters in Hollywood history. He won two Oscars over the course of his career; one for his iconic buddy Western Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and another for his incredible adaptation of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s book All the President’s Men. Goldman and director Alan J. Pakula turned a story literally everyone in the country knew into a white-knuckle suspense film with unforgettable dialogue.
He wasn’t nominated for any of his other work, which is surprising. At minimum, he deserved a nomination for The Princess Bride, based on his own book, which became an all-time children’s classic. And Goldman also wrote the screenplays for great films like The Stepford Wives, Marathon Man, A Bridge Too Far, and Misery.
He also wrote several novels, along with what became arguably the most famous book about screenwriting in history: 1983’s Adventures in the Screen Trade, chronicling his ups and downs in the movie industry. That book is also where Goldman coined one of the most repeated lines about the world of Hollywood moviemaking: “Nobody knows anything,” summing up how everyone in the town thinks they’re brilliant, but actually knows squat.
Although his best-known works are all outstanding, some of his lesser-known scripts are just as good. In 1972, he re-teamed with Sundance Kid Robert Redford for The Hot Rock, a sardonic heist film based on a novel by Donald Westlake. Dryly hilarious, it’s one of the all-time great crime movies (and a clear inspiration for Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven series). It’s not streaming online right now, but it’s worth tracking down a copy on DVD; it’s outstanding.
Goldman’s last produced screenplay was the Statham film Wild Card, a remake of an earlier film called Heat (not the De Niro/Pacino one) that was based on a Goldman novel. That one wasn’t much to write home about, but in his prime, there really was no one better. Butch and Sundance, All the President’s Men, Princess Bride, Screen Trade — they’re all essential wrks from a master who is gone too soon.