Based on actor/author Thomas Tryon’sbest selling novel, about the duplicity of innocence and evil in the incarnation of twin boys. Set in the depression era during a hot and dusty summer of 1935. The atmosphere of rural quaintness is painted beautifully by cinematographer Robert Surtees.
Niles and Holland Perry (Chris and Martin Udvanoky) live with their extended family on a rural farm. The boys are looked after by their old world and arcane, loving Russian Grandmother Ada (the extraordinary icon Uda Hagen.)
The sagely mysterious and angelic Ada has taught the boys a special and esoteric gift from the old country she calls ‘the game.’
When several inextricably grotesque accidents beset the town, the clues start to point toward Niles’ wicked brother Holland who may be responsible for the gruesome deaths.
Norma Connolly plays Aunt Vee, Victor French co-stars as the drunken swarthy handyman Angelini, Lou Frizzell is Uncle George, Portia Nelson as the uptight Mrs. Rowe, Jennie Sullivan as Torrie and a young John Ritter as Rider.
Tryon’s story is a most hauntingly mysterious journey through the eyes of a child, a macabre and provocative psychological thriller from the 70s that has remained indelible in triggering my childhood fears, filled with wonder and the impenetrable world of the supernatural. I plan on doing a broader over view of this film as I am prone to be long winded. But for now The Film Score Freak would like to focus on the film’s hauntingly poignant score contributed by one of my favorite and in my opinion one of THE BEST composers of all time, Jerry Goldsmith.
Featuring the Original Music by Composer Jerry Goldsmith
I see this is going to be yet another casualty of the remake syndrome that our film culture suffers from. Due out in 2013. Don’t get me wrong, there are certain films that can be faithfully re-imagined by the right director/screenwriter and it could add an element of tribute with a contemporary twist that feeds the palate nicely. Perhaps this will be one of them…we’ll see. For now let’s say that it… won’t have Margot Kidder, Michael Sarrazin, nor the heavenly Jennifer O’Neill. All three actors, 70s staples and fine performers, who are engrossing to watch. Sarrazin
(They Shoot Horses Don’t They 1969, Frankenstein, The True Story 1973 The Gumball Rally 1976) has always struck me as a quasi urbane/ feral cat, sophisticated yet wildly sexy and untamed.Especially with his deeply fluid eyes. And I do LOVE cats!
Yes, I had a huge crush on Michael Sarrazin….I mean look at those lips!
College professor Peter Proud starts to have flashbacks and reoccurring dreams from a previous life. He begins to become drawn to a place that he has never been before yet is so hauntingly and disturbingly familiar. Leaving his girlfriend Nora played by the sexy Cornelia Sharpe behind, he goes on personal mission to find the truth…
Driven by the cosmic forces that surround his destiny, Peter meets up with the wife Marcia Curtis (Margot Kidder) from his past incarnation. Some how Marcia recognizes in Peter very unique characteristics that are startling to that of her dead husband, Jeff.
Eerily at times, even the sound of Peter’s voice seems to be that of Jeffs. The film adds a twist of irony and a strain of incestuous actuality when Peter becomes romantically drawn to Ann Curtis played by Jennifer O’Neill , the daughter of Jeff and Marcia. Peter’s daughter from a past life…
Recognizing the implications of the nature of Peter and Ann’s relationship, the anxious and melancholy Mrs. Curtis tries to keep the two young lovers away from each other. But…what is the secret behind the death of Jeff Curtis? And what will happen to Peter in the end?
The film is a soft core 70s journey into, the psycho sexual and an indulgence into mysticism. The preoccupation of the 70s with reincarnation and past lives emerging. Peter Proud is a truly, gripping, haunting film directed seamlessly byJ. Lee Thompson (The Guns of Navarone 1961, Cape Fear 1962, Eye of the Devil 1966) and written by Max Ehrlich
One of the superb elements of this fine supernatural suspense/horror film is the musical contribution by legendary composer Jerry Goldsmith.
Goldsmith’s original soundtrack adds such a powerfully indelible layer to the film that makes it for me one of the most memorable films from the 1970s.
Not only is Jerry Goldsmith ONE of my all time favorite composers, he has had a profound effect on me in terms of inspiration growing up as a young singer/songwriter.
Here, in this film his work, is perhaps one of THE MOST beautifully poignant and heart wrenching pieces of music I’ve ever heard. A transcendent solemnity and delicately exquisite introspective journey of the soul through longing, silence and eventually an eternal unknowing that lingers….
I could not find a proper theatrical trailer of The Reincarnation of Peter Proud1975 anywhere, but I still felt it significant to highlight the film’s score as it does set the tone for Peter’s self awareness, his journey back in time, and toward re encountering his true self.
So here is a little something from the film. I hope you watch this version before you go and see the re-make slated for 2013.
Directed by John Brahm, and adapted by Donald S Sanford from the short story by Robert Bloch which appeared in Weird Tales Magazine, The Cheaters concerns an odd pair of spectacles which allow the wearer to read people’s thoughts. Inscribed on the inside is VeritasThe Latin word for The Truth.
In Roman mythology Veritas (meaning truth) was the goddess of truth, a daughter of Saturn and the mother of Virtue. It was believed that she hid in the bottom of a holy well because she was so elusive.
“The Cheaters” also lay bare the frightening and often hideous true nature of someone’s soul hidden behind their façade. Their Anima Sola or The Lonely Soul, as Jungian psychology considered it.
a. The unconscious or true inner self of an individual, as opposed to the persona, or outer aspect of the personality.
The Anima Sola or Lonely Soul is a Catholic depiction of a suffering person — almost always a woman — in chains amidst the barred prison doors and flames of Purgatory, the place where sinners go while awaiting final judgment.The Anima Sola is taken to represent a soul suffering in purgatory, usually, if not always, a woman. The woman has broken free from her chains in the midst of a prison (barred doors) and is surrounded by flames, representing purgatory. She appears penitent and reverent, and her chains have been broken, an indication that, after her temporary suffering, she is destined for heaven.
In the case of The Cheaters, I think that the soul’s chains are the corporeal body that binds the true inner self. The funny yellow glass that van Prinn has invented through alchemy allows the boundaries to be crossed over in order to see the actual soul suffering in it’s physical purgatory.
Karloff introduces this memorable episode, his words linger on the edge of air so melodically like a soft sermon as the preamble to The Cheaters
“When a man shuts himself off from his neighbors, when he conducts mysterious experiments… there’s bound to be talk. There were those that whispered that Old Dirk van Prinn was a sorcerer or worse… He might not have been remembered at all had not his research led him to the discovery of a most unusual formula for making glass.”
Fade in Henry Daniell’swho makes a brief appearance as Dirk Van Prinn, the alchemist/inventor of the spectacles or “the cheaters” Locked away in his primitively rustic laboratory, we see him tinkering amongst the flasks of liquid and scales, a pair of pliers in his hand as he finishes setting the “yellowed old lenses” in the wire frames. He has discovered a peculiar formula for making glass!
The house keeper Mrs. Ames brings him a package annoying him with an offer of some nourishing soup since he hasn’t had a bite all day. Irritated by the intrusion he just wants her to leave him alone. Mrs. Ames keeps peaking around him trying to catch sight of his mysterious room. He tells her goodnight.
Jerry Goldsmith’s evocative score teems with eerie delight as the strings pluck and trill out macabre musical strokes and a piano tinkles with flute embellishments that flutter as after thoughts as he sits himself in front of the large mirror by candle light.
He tries on the spectacles and stares at his own reflection the camera blurs our vision momentarily. van Prinn is horrified by the image he is gazing at. As we view his face in close up, it distorts as he becomes more frightened by what he sees looking back at him in the mirror. The camera closes in on his tinted spectacles and the look of abject fear in his eyes.
The music becomes a frenzied climax as the scene trades with a black background and a few low piano notes held as Boris Karloff walks on screen to tell us about the evening’s terror tale.
I’ve always been struck by Henry Daniell’s unusual facial features that often lend to many of the sinister roles he’s played in the horror film genre. He’s somewhat like a Faustian marionette, with a wooden like grimace frozen in extreme sardonic glee. I particularly loved him in one of my favorite classic campy films of 1959 The 4 Skullsof Jonathon DrakeDaniell’s make-up for the Well of Doom episode bears a striking similarity to Lon Chaney’s character in Tod Brownings, London After Midnight 1927
One hundred years later the spectacles are found by Joe Henshaw junk man, in a hidden compartment of an old rotting,dust covered desk in Prinn’s abandoned house.
The Cheaters includes wonderful performances by Paul Newlan as Joe Henshaw, the down on his luck junk dealer who discovers the cheaters in more ways than one, when he stumbles onto the spectacles at the old Bleaker Place where van Prinn did his experiments.