The Reincarnation of Peter Proud

Last updated
The Reincarnation of Peter Proud
Reincarnation Of Peter Proud.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by J. Lee Thompson
Screenplay by Max Ehrlich
Based on The Reincarnation of Peter Proud
by Max Ehrlich
Produced by
Cinematography Victor J. Kemper
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Distributed by American International Pictures
Release date
  • April 25, 1975 (1975-04-25) [1]
Running time
105 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$5 million [2] [3]

The Reincarnation of Peter Proud is a 1975 American psychological horror film directed by J. Lee Thompson, and starring Michael Sarrazin, Margot Kidder, and Jennifer O'Neill. It follows a university professor who, after experiencing a series of bizarre nightmares, comes to believe he is the reincarnation of someone else. It is based on the 1973 novel of the same title by Max Ehrlich, who adapted the screenplay.



Peter Proud, a college professor in Los Angeles, begins having recurring dreams he cannot explain. In one particular nightmare, Peter witnesses the murder of a young man by a woman while he swims naked in a lake near a hotel. As he screams his final words, "Marcia, don't!", she bludgeons him with an oar, and he drowns. In subsequent dreams, Peter witnesses brief vignettes from the man's life, including romances with two different women, and has visions of houses and landmarks that are unknown to him.

Peter is haunted by his dreams and seeks medical treatment. He attends a sleep laboratory to try to decipher his dreams. However, the resident doctor, Sam Goodman, informs him that his dreams do not register as being dreams; in fact, they do not register at all. One evening while watching television, several of Peter's visions play out before him on a local documentary film titled The Changing Face of America. He sees an arch and church in the documentary that have figured prominently in his dreams. Peter starts to think that his dreams are scenes from a previous life; he calls the television station to discover the location. Upon learning that the location of his "visions" is in Massachusetts, Proud and his girlfriend Nora travel there.

In Massachusetts, the couple drive from town to town, but are unsuccessful until they arrive in Springfield. It is here that Proud begins to see familiar sights from his visions, such as a bridge, a church, the Puritan statue, and others. Nora decides to return to California, tired of Peter's relentless searching, which she dismisses as delusion. After Nora leaves, Peter continues his exploration. Eventually, Peter locates Marcia, the mystery woman from his nightmares, now a middle-aged alcoholic. Peter subsequently befriends Marcia's daughter Ann at a local country club where Marcia's husband Jeff was once a tennis pro; Ann has recently returned home to care for her emotionally unstable mother. Through his research, Peter uncovers that Jeff was found drowned in Crystal Lake in 1946 under mysterious circumstances.

Marcia is suspicious of Peter and curious about his motives, specifically how much he seems to know about her life. Ann and Peter quickly develop a romance, much to the disapproval of Marcia, who responds by increasingly drinking and taking prescription drugs. Peter initially has some hesitation toward pursuing a relationship with Ann after considering that she may have been his daughter in a past life, but he ultimately chooses to continue the romance. Ann tells Peter her father proposed to Marcia in the same area where they just made love.

One afternoon, Marcia accompanies Peter and Ann to the country club, where they lounge at the poolside. While Ann goes for a swim, Marcia witnesses a sleeping Peter repeating the phrase "Marcia, don't!" in Jeff's voice. This horrifies her, and she flees home where she locks herself in her bedroom. Later, she masturbates to the memory of Jeff raping her after she confronted him about an affair he had while she was pregnant with Ann. The following day, Marcia confronts Peter, demanding to know his true identity. The two get into a heated argument, during which he confirms that he is her decreased husband reincarnated.

Meanwhile, Peter realizes that by having re-enacted or visited the sites of his visions, they seem to have ceased haunting him. The lake vision of Jeff's murder is his last to be expunged. Drawn to the lake where Jeff died years prior, Peter enters the water, hoping to unfetter himself from the vision. While in the water, Marcia approaches him in the same boat she did Jeff years ago, now brandishing a pistol. Addressing Peter as Jeff, Marcia asks why he has returned to torment her, and accuses him of incest with Ann. When Peter tries to climb into the boat, Marcia shoots him to death. She watches as his body sinks to the bottom of the lake.



Film rights to the novel were sold to Bing Crosby Productions before the novel had been published. By April 1974, Michael Sarrazin, Margot Kidder and Jennifer O'Neill were cast to star, and J. Lee Thompson was attached to direct. [4] The novel came out in October - the Los Angeles Times called it "riveting". [5]

Principal photography began on 24 April of the same year in Los Angeles and Massachusetts. [1]


The Reincarnation of Peter Proud premiered in New York City on April 25, 1975, and subsequently opened in Los Angeles on May 2. [1]

Critical response

The Reincarnation of Peter Proud received a mixed response from critics upon its release. Steven H. Scheuer labelled the film as a "clunky yarn". [6] Mick Martin and Marsha Porter awarded the film their "turkey" rating and criticized it for its "turgid direction" and "contrived plot". [7] Leslie Halliwell also panned the film as a "hysterical psychic melodrama which pretty well ruins its own chances by failing to explain its plot". [8] The Philadelphia Inquirer's Desmond Ryan dismissed the film as "an obtuse essay into the much trampled world of the occult, and it is aptly named since it seems to take several lifetimes to trudge through the film from its modest beginnings to its silly conclusion." [9]

Some critics were more generous. Leonard Maltin wrote that the film was "moderately gripping". [10] A.H. Weiler, like Halliwell, was unconvinced by the film's plot, but lauded it for its "polished [filmic] treatment" and Thompson's "properly moody [directorial] style". [11]

In a retrospective review, Michael Barrett of PopMatters praised the film's cinematography and editing, which he notes provides "a sense of propulsion to what, in other hands, might be a stagnantly paced story; either sound or image are continually pulling at us, like fate...  There's something about The Reincarnation of Peter Proud that keeps it lodged in the memory like a nasty splinter." [12]

Home media

In 2018, Kino Lorber released The Reincarnation of Peter Proud in a special edition Blu-ray featuring a new 4K restoration of the original film elements. [13]

Proposed remake

In November 2009, Andrew Kevin Walker and David Fincher (the writer and director, respectively, of Seven ) were attached to work on the remake, [14] with Paramount Pictures and Columbia Pictures financing the project. Filming and theatrical release of the remake were planned for 2016, but as of 2018, the project was listed as "in development". [15]

New reports of a planned remake emerged in 2021, with development and production now handed over to David Goyer of Phantom Four Films in collaboration with Village Roadshow, and with Sean Durkin serving as writer and director. [16]

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>City of Angels</i> (film) 1998 film by Brad Silberling

City of Angels is a 1998 American romantic fantasy film directed by Brad Silberling and starring Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan. Set in Los Angeles, California, the film is a loose remake of Wim Wenders's 1987 film Wings of Desire. As with the original, City of Angels tells the story of an angel (Cage) who falls in love with a mortal woman (Ryan), and wishes to become human to be with her. With the guidance of a man who has already made the transition from immortality, the angel falls and begins the human experience.

<i>What Dreams May Come</i> (film) 1998 American film

What Dreams May Come is a 1998 American fantasy drama film directed by Vincent Ward and adapted by Ronald Bass from the 1978 novel of the same name by Richard Matheson. Starring Robin Williams, Annabella Sciorra and Cuba Gooding Jr., it won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects and the Art Directors Guild Award for Excellence in Production Design. It was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Art Direction. The title is from a line in Hamlet's "To be, or not to be" soliloquy. The film received mixed reviews, with praise for its scenery, but criticizing the plot. It was also a box-office bomb, grossing only $75.4 million against a budget of $85‒90 million.

<i>Spider Baby</i> 1967 American film

Spider Baby: or, the Maddest Story Ever Told is a 1967 American comedy horror film, written and directed by Jack Hill. It stars Lon Chaney Jr. as Bruno, the chauffeur and caretaker of three orphaned siblings who suffer from "Merrye Syndrome", a genetic condition starting in early puberty that causes them to regress mentally, socially and physically. Jill Banner, Carol Ohmart, Quinn Redeker, Beverly Washburn, Sid Haig, Mary Mitchel, Karl Schanzer and Mantan Moreland also star.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jeff Chandler</span> American actor (1918–1961)

Jeff Chandler was an American actor. He was best known for his portrayal of Cochise in Broken Arrow (1950), for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He was one of Universal Pictures' more popular male stars of the 1950s. His other credits include Sword in the Desert (1948), Deported (1950), Female on the Beach (1955), and Away All Boats (1956). In addition to his acting in film, he was known for his role in the radio program Our Miss Brooks, as Phillip Boynton, her fellow teacher and clueless object of affection, and for his musical recordings.

<i>Dont Make Waves</i> 1967 film by Alexander Mackendrick

Don't Make Waves is a 1967 American sex comedy starring Tony Curtis, Claudia Cardinale, Dave Draper and Sharon Tate. Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the film was directed by Alexander Mackendrick and is based on the 1959 novel Muscle Beach by Ira Wallach, who also co-wrote the screenplay.

<i>Tarzan, the Ape Man</i> (1981 film) 1981 film directed by John Derek

Tarzan, the Ape Man is a 1981 American adventure film directed by John Derek and starring Bo Derek, Miles O'Keeffe, Richard Harris, and John Phillip Law. The screenplay by Tom Rowe and Gary Goddard is loosely based on the 1912 novel Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs, but from the point of view of Jane Parker.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Michael Sarrazin</span> Canadian actor (1940-2011)

Michael Sarrazin was a Canadian actor. His most notable film was They Shoot Horses, Don't They?.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ross Hunter</span> American actor

Ross Hunter was an American film and television producer and actor. He is best known for producing light comedies such as Pillow Talk (1959), and the glamorous melodramas Magnificent Obsession (1954), Imitation of Life (1959), and Back Street (1961).

<i>The Invisible</i> (2007 film) 2007 film

The Invisible is a 2007 teen supernatural thriller starring Justin Chatwin, Margarita Levieva, Chris Marquette, Marcia Gay Harden, and Callum Keith Rennie. The film, directed by David S. Goyer, was released in theaters on April 27, 2007. The Invisible is based on the Swedish young adult novel by Mats Wahl, which was previously adapted into a Swedish film of the same name. It is the last movie produced by Hollywood Pictures before the company's closure in 2007.

<i>Chilly Scenes of Winter</i> (film) 1979 film by Joan Micklin Silver

Chilly Scenes of Winter is a 1979 American romantic comedy film written and directed by Joan Micklin Silver, and starring John Heard, Mary Beth Hurt, Peter Riegert, Kenneth McMillan, and Gloria Grahame. Based on the 1976 novel by Ann Beattie, it follows a civil servant worker in Salt Lake City who falls in love with a recently-separated woman who works in his office building.

<i>Run for the Sun</i> 1956 film released by United Artists

Run for the Sun is a 1956 American Technicolor thriller adventure film released by United Artists, the third film to officially be based on Richard Connell's classic 1924 suspense story, "The Most Dangerous Game", after both RKO's The Most Dangerous Game (1932), and their remake, A Game of Death (1945). This version stars Richard Widmark, Trevor Howard, and Jane Greer, and was directed by Ray Boulting from a script written by Boulting and Dudley Nichols. Connell was credited for his short story.

<i>A Dolls House</i> (1973 Losey film) 1973 British film

A Doll's House is a 1973 drama film directed by Joseph Losey, based on the 1879 play A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen. It stars Jane Fonda in the role of Nora Helmer and David Warner as her domineering husband, Torvald.

<i>Journey for Margaret</i> 1942 film by W. S. Van Dyke

Journey for Margaret is a 1942 American drama film set in London in World War II. It stars Robert Young and Laraine Day as a couple who have to confront the loss of their unborn child due to a bombing raid. It is an adaptation of the book of the same name in which William Lindsay White and his wife described their experiences adopting an orphan in London. This is reflected in the introduction to the film, which begins: “The Margaret of this story is real... “ This was the final film of the prolific director W. S. Van Dyke.

<i>Straight On till Morning</i> (film) 1972 British film by Peter Collinson

Straight On till Morning is a 1972 British thriller film directed by Peter Collinson and starring Rita Tushingham, Shane Briant, James Bolam, Katya Wyeth and John Clive. It was made by Hammer Film Productions. The screenplay concerns a reserved young woman who finds herself attracted to a handsome stranger, unaware of his psychotic tendencies.

<i>Third Finger, Left Hand</i> 1940 American film

Third Finger, Left Hand is a 1940 American romantic comedy film directed by Robert Z. Leonard and starring Myrna Loy, Melvyn Douglas and Raymond Walburn. The screenplay concerns a woman who pretends to be married to fend off would-be suitors and jealous wives, then has to live with her deception when she meets an artist who pretends to be her husband.

<i>Chase a Crooked Shadow</i> 1958 film by Michael Anderson

Chase a Crooked Shadow is a 1958 British suspense film directed by Michael Anderson and starring Richard Todd, Anne Baxter and Herbert Lom. It was the first film produced by Associated Dragon Films, a business venture of Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

<i>The Reincarnation of Peter Proud</i> (novel) 1974 novel by Max Ehrlich

The Reincarnation of Peter Proud was written by popular fiction author Max Ehrlich. It was published in 1974 by Bobbs-Merrill and a year later by Bantam.

<i>Waterfront</i> (1950 film) 1950 British film by Michael Anderson and Peter Ustinov

Waterfront is a 1950 British black and white drama film directed by Michael Anderson and starring Robert Newton, Kathleen Harrison and Avis Scott. It is based on the 1934 novel of the same name by John Brophy.

<i>Cry Terror!</i> 1958 American thriller film

Cry Terror! is a 1958 American crime thriller film starring James Mason, Inger Stevens, and Rod Steiger. The story was written and directed by Andrew L. Stone. Neville Brand, Jack Klugman and Angie Dickinson appear in support.

<i>Istanbul</i> (film) 1957 film by Joseph Pevney

Istanbul is a 1957 American CinemaScope film noir crime film directed by Joseph Pevney, and starring Errol Flynn and Cornell Borchers. It is a remake of the film Singapore, with the location of the action moved to Turkey. The plot involves an American pilot who becomes mixed up with various criminal activities in Istanbul.


  1. 1 2 3 "The Reincarnation of Peter Proud". AFI Catalog of Feature Films . Los Angeles, California: American Film Institute. Archived from the original on December 21, 2019.
  2. "In winner's circle". Variety. 17 August 1993. Retrieved August 16, 2019.
  3. Donahue, Suzanne Mary (1987). American film distribution: the changing marketplace. UMI Research Press. p. 293. Please note figures are for rentals in US and Canada
  4. Stars Set for 'Peter Proud' Los Angeles Times 9 Apr 1974: c10.
  5. A Nightmarish Existence Indeed Kirsch, Robert. Los Angeles Times 8 Oct 1974: e4.
  6. Scheuer, Steven H. (1990). Movies on TV and Videocassette, 1991-1992. Bantam Books. p. 869.
  7. Martin, Max; Porter, Marsha (1996). Video Movie Guide 1997. Ballantine Books. p. 887.
  8. Halliwell, Leslie (2000). Halliwell's Film & Video Guide 2001. HarperCollins.
  9. Ryan, Desmon (April 28, 1975). "It's Difficult to See Why Peter Is Proud". The Philadelphia Inquirer . Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. p. 12 via
  10. Maltin, Leonard (1991). Leonard Maltin's Movie and Video Guide 1992. New American Library. p. 1000.
  11. Weiler, A.H. (April 26, 1975). "Screen: 'Peter Proud'". The New York Times . Retrieved August 16, 2019.
  12. Barrett, Michael (June 6, 2018). "That Boy Ain't Right: 'The Reincarnation of Peter Proud'". PopMatters . Archived from the original on January 10, 2020.
  13. "1970s Shockers Grizzly and The Reincarnation of Peter Proud Coming to 4K Blu-ray". Dread Central . March 19, 2018. Archived from the original on January 10, 2020.
  14. Miska, Brad (November 9, 2009). "Fincher 'Reincarnates' Relationship With 'Seven' Writer". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved August 16, 2019.
  15. "The Reincarnation of Peter Proud". IMDb. Retrieved August 16, 2019.
  16. "1970s Horror Movie 'The Reincarnation of Peter Proud' Being Remade by David Goyer and Village Roadshow". Retrieved June 3, 2022.