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An interview with Tom Beauvais

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Circle of Two

  • Release Date: 01-05-1982
  • Vipco Catalogue Number: VIP030
  • Director: Jules Dassin
  • Writers: Marie-Terese Baird, Thomas Hedley Jr.
  • Actors: Tatum O'Neal, Norma Dell'Agnese, Donann Cavin
  • Storyline:
    In Toronto, the fifteen year-old student and aspirant writer Sarah Norton meets the sixty year old painter Ashley St. Clair in a cafeteria while hiding from her stalker boy-friend Paul. Ashley hasn't painted for ten years. He agrees to read the poems that Sarah has written. They start seeing each other at his studio and Sarah falls in love with him. Ashley feels a platonic love for Sarah that becomes his muse and he decides to paint again. Paul spies Sarah in Ashley's studio, and misunderstands their relationship, he attacks her in a cornfield but she defends herself.

  • Country: USA
  • Language: English
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Their's was a love against all odds.

This uncomfortable off-beat Canadian drama from the late Jules Dassin (Topkapi, Dream of Passion) – which was actually his final outing before retiring from the film business – pairs Hollywood legend Richard Burton with rising star Tatum O’Neal (Ryan’s daughter) in this unsavoury – but tastefully scripted – melodrama that surrounds an ageing former artist (Burton) who is charmed by the affections of a young admirer (O’Neal), which gives the painter a fresh impetus for life and his work...

Based on the Marie-Terese Baird novel “A Lesson in Love” which was carefully adapted for the screen by Thomas Hedley Jr., in a script that embodies a screenplay that avoids certain pitfalls; quite an achievement given its sensitive subject matter. Precisely how this fickle drama got made however is anyone’s guess – particularly where Tatum’s Dad, who is alleged to have purchased the world rights in perpetuity to his daughter’s next big screen outing – Peter Werner’s Prisoners – in order to prevent its release.

Two versions of Circle of Two were produced: One that presented a longer “European” cut; a version that includes around three minutes of additional footage – scenes which are best described as crucial to the overall story. The shorter edit is perhaps best avoided. Surprisingly enough, and despite VIPCO’s tendency to censor anything that wouldn’t fit onto a 90-minute cassette, this May 1982 release of theirs presented UK audiences with the longer edition.

More recently UK-based distribution company Boulevard released the film in 2004, whilst the decidedly grey market outfit Pegasus – A Division of Eagle Rock – later took to re-issue Dassin’s film under the alternate title of Obsession.  Both releases were of the shorter edit. If you find this sort of film fascinating, be sure to check out Richard Donner’s TWINKY, which pairs Charles Bronson with a youthful Susan George as his whingeing school-aged girlfriend!

Written by Kevin A Hall Last modified on Saturday, 23 February 2013 17:01

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