A professor at a college in California, Dr. Peter Proud (Michael Sarrazin), begins to have recurring dreams. In one nightmare, Proud appears to see a man murdered by a woman in a rowboat while he is swimming naked. The murdered man repeatedly cries, "Marcia, don't!"
Proud is haunted by his dreams and seeks medical treatment. He attends a "sleep lab" to try to decipher his dreams. However, the dreams do not register as being dreams; in fact, they do not register at all. One evening while watching television, several of his "visions" play out before him on a local documentary entitled "The Changing Face of America". He sees the arch and the church that have been dominating his dreams, and calls the television station to discover the location. Upon learning that the location of his "visions" is in Massachusetts, Proud and his girlfriend Nora (Cornelia Sharpe) 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 dreams, such as the bridge, the church, the Puritan statue, and others. Eventually, Peter locates Marcia (Margot Kidder), the mystery woman from his nightmares, and befriends her daughter Ann (Jennifer O'Neill) at a local country club.
Marcia is suspicious of Peter, and curious about his motives, and how he knows so much about her life. Ann and Peter eventually fall in love, to Marcia's disapproval, when she is made aware that Peter Proud is a reincarnation of her deceased husband. Peter had discovered earlier that by re-enacting his dreams, he would stop having that particular dream/vision. The Lake Dream was his last nightmare to be conquered. The film ends as Peter Proud is drawn to the lake where the original crime was committed years ago, and suffers the same fate he did in his previous life.Michael Sarrazin as Dr. Peter Proud
Margot Kidder as Marcia
Jennifer O'Neill as Ann
Cornelia Sharpe as Nora
Albert Henderson as Police Sergeant
The Reincarnation of Peter Proud received a mixed response from critics upon its release. Steven H. Scheuer labelled the film as a "clunky yarn", (Scheuer, 1990: 869), while Mick Martin and Marsha Porter awarded the film their "turkey" rating, and criticised it for its "turgid direction [and] contrived plot", (Martin and Porter, 1996: 887). Leslie Halliwell also panned the film as an "hysterical psychic melodrama which pretty well ruins its own chances by failing to explain its plot", (Halliwell, 2000: 675).
Some critics were more generous. Leonard Maltin said that the film was "moderately gripping", (Maltin, 1991: 1000). A. H. Weiler, like Halliwell, was unconvinced by the film's plot, but, unlike him, lauded it for its "polished [filmic] treatment", and J. Lee Thompson's "properly moody [directorial style]" (Weiler, 1975).
The haunting score by Jerry Goldsmith and the performance of Margot Kidder were well received.
On November 9, 2009, it was announced that Andrew Kevin Walker and David Fincher (the writer and director, respectively, of Seven) will work on the remake. Paramount Pictures and Columbia Pictures will finance the project.
'The Reincarnation of Peter Proud was influenced by an earlier Hindi film with a similar plot, Madhumati (1958).