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Proud, Peter (1913-1989)

Art Director, Production Designer

Main image of Proud, Peter (1913-1989)

Born Ralph Priestman Proud in Glasgow in 1913, Peter Proud was educated at Hillhead High School, as, coincidentally, was Alexander Mackendrick at the same time. On leaving school at 15, he applied for a job as a sound recordist at the BIP studios at Elstree, inspired by a schoolboy interest in scientific equipment. However, sound was not his strong point and he soon moved to the art department where he assisted numerous art directors and set dressers. Within a couple of years he found himself working as assistant art director under Alfred Hitchcock on films such as Murder! (1930) and Rich and Strange (1932).

In 1932 Proud joined Alfred Junge's art department at Gaumont-British Picture Corporation in Islington, where he co-art directed The Man Who Knew Too Much (d. Hitchcock, 1934) and assisted on several others. After two years at Gaumont he joined Warner Brothers First International as a fully-fledged art director, working on films like Something Always Happens (d. Michael Powell, 1934), Educated Evans (d. William Beaudine, 1936), Perfect Crime (d. Ralph Ince, 1937) and They Drive By Night (d. Arthur Woods 1939). By now he was head of the art department and when he left to go to a new facility at Teddington Studios, he took his whole team from Gaumont with him.

At Teddington, Proud worked on a series of 'quota quickies' and became renowned for his ability to make the sets look like they were designed on lavish production budgets. During the Second World War he joined the army and became second-in command of camouflage in the Middle East. He is credited with the invention of battle camouflage, a new system of concealed entrenchment. His proudest and most ingenious achievement was to 'hide' a number of ships in harbour at the siege of Tobruk in North Africa.

After the war, Proud joined Independent Producers as production designer on Green For Danger (d. Sidney Gilliat, 1946). He produced and co-directed Esther Waters (co-d. Ian Dalrymple, 1948) and co-wrote the script for The Planter's Wife (d. Ken Annakin, 1952). However, in the 1950s he was lured to independent television production, where he used a new system for set design based on interchangeable modules. He designed the sets for The Adventures of Robin Hood (1955-1957), The Adventures of Sir Lancelot (1956) and The Buccaneers (1956 - 1958).

In the 1960s, Proud continued to freelance as a film industry art director, working with directors such as Basil Dearden (The League of Gentlemen, 1960), Silvio Narizzano (Fanatic, 1965) and Sidney J. Furie (The Naked Runner, 1967). With over seventy productions to his name, in the 1980s he switched to education, teaching at the London International Film School. Proud was also involved in shaping the industrial relations of the film and television industry as a founder of ACTT, the precursor of BECTU (Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph Technicians Union).

Ann Ogidi

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From the BFI's filmographic database

Related media

Thumbnail image of Peter Proud: BECTU Interview Part 1 (1987) Peter Proud: BECTU Interview Part 1 (1987)

Film memories from Hitchcock to the Second World War

Thumbnail image of Peter Proud: BECTU Interview Part 2 (1987) Peter Proud: BECTU Interview Part 2 (1987)

Memories of a career in television and his foray into commercials

Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Green for Danger (1946)Green for Danger (1946)

Whodunit with Alastair Sim as a less than Poirot-like detective

Thumbnail image of League of Gentlemen, The (1960)League of Gentlemen, The (1960)

Classic heist comedy with Jack Hawkins leading an all-star cast

Thumbnail image of Man Who Knew Too Much, The (1934)Man Who Knew Too Much, The (1934)

The original version of Hitchcock's classic man-on-the-run thriller

Thumbnail image of Murder! (1930)Murder! (1930)

Hitchcock whodunit with a theatrical setting

Thumbnail image of Rich and Strange (1931)Rich and Strange (1931)

Hitchcock melodrama about a couple contemplating infidelity on a cruise

Thumbnail image of Something Always Happens (1934)Something Always Happens (1934)

Engaging comedy of a feckless drifter rising to business success

Thumbnail image of Adventures of Robin Hood, The (1955-59)Adventures of Robin Hood, The (1955-59)

Hugely popular series that gave a ratings boost to the early ITV

Thumbnail image of Adventures of Sir Lancelot, The (1956-57)Adventures of Sir Lancelot, The (1956-57)

Arthurian swashbuckler starring later Dr Who companion William Russell

Thumbnail image of Buccaneers, The (1956-57)Buccaneers, The (1956-57)

Pirate action-adventure starring Robert Shaw

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