â€¢ THE REINCARNATION OF PETER PROUD, directed by J. Lee Thompson, is a splendid little mystery from American International that is only incidentally about reincarnation. Michael Sarrazin is a young California professor troubled by what at first appear to be recurring dreams centering around a young man and woman in a small New England city. These "dreams" turn out to be memories of an earlier life that came to a sudden and violent end. Obsessed by his past, Sarrazin sets out to find the city that haunts his memory and discover who he was and why he died as he did. The result is a deftly made, if somewhat conventional, thriller whose success is largely attributable to Sarrazin's fine, sensitive performance. The film is not without its flaws, convulsing at times in fits of bad acting and dimestore novel dialogue that generally come together in Cornelia Sharpe, a lovely young actress whose talent for delivering a bad line is a constant earsore. Fortunately, she deserts Sarrazin early in his quest, leaving the screen to better actresses. The film's biggest surprise is certainly Margot Kidder, who manages a very skillful and convincing performance as both the young girl in Sarrazin's past life and Jennifer O'Neill's mother. Even Miss O'Neill does a refreshingly competent job in what may be her perfect role: she appears late in the film, has relatively little to say and is required for the most part to do what she does bestâ€"simply look beautiful. And for her, it is almost enough. Rated "R." â€"James F. Carey
â€¢ Considering that it's basically a low-budget action movie, DEATH RACE 2000 has some pertinent things to say. Set in the not-too-distant future, the film centers around a transcontinental auto race, in which the object is to kill as many bystanders as possible en route. The race is sponsored by the government of the United Provinces of America, which has become a fascist dictatorship following the economic collapse of 1979. There is quite a bit of violence in the movie, but it is not overly exploited. Stunt work and technical achievements are impressive. The only jarring note is the dialogue, which resembles vintage roller derby. David Carradine gives a chilling performance as Frankenstein, the popular favorite, who is single-mindedly intent on winning the race because "it's the only standard of excellence left." Simone Griffeth looks much better than she acts in her role as Carradine's navigator, who is secretly allied with a group of rebels bent on sabotoging the race and overthrowing the government. Touches of pertinent humor are sprinkled throughout the movie. The leader of the revolutionaries is an impressive old woman named Thomasina Paine. At one point, she pre-empts television coverage of the race to denounce the government (shades of Atlas Shrugged). The dictator, known only as Mr. President, refuses to even acknowledge the existence of the rebels, and blames the country's economic woes and everything else on evil plotting by "our sworn enemy, France." The political humor (and foresight?) is more sophisticated than the movie as a whole, but it goes to show what can be accomplished with a little money and a lot of imagination. Rated "R." â€"Charles F. Barr
â€¢ THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN is a movie full of good intentions gone awry. The film is based on a true story about a young woman skier whose spectacular career is cut short by a near-fatal accident which leaves her virtually paralyzed from the neck down. She is determined to make something of her life despite her handicap, and eventually succeeds in becoming a teacher on an Indian reservation. But the emphasis of the film is not on her struggle or her ultimate success; the emphasis is on suffering. Long, drawn-out, cheerless hospital scenes, rivaling those in The Exorcist for clinical detail, quickly drain the emotions of the audience. And if that isn't enough, director Larry Peerce belabors the point with prolonged close-ups of the protagonists crying. Marilyn Hassett performs well in the narrow confines of her role as the hapless skier. A measure of relief is provided by Beau Bridges as her daredevil boy friend, who attempts with some success to dispel her misery with wild stunts. The early ski scenes are absorbing and exciting, in marked contrast to the rest of the movie. David Seltzer's script skirts the edge of soap operaâ€"strong in dialogue but weak in plot developmentâ€"stopping periodically to allow time for a good cry. The Other Side of the Mountain is an unfortunate reminder that pain and suffering, even in the context of a true story, can become an artistic self-indulgence. Rated "PG." â€"C.F.B.