Circle of Two

Circle of Two is a 1981 Canadian drama film starring Richard Burton as a 60-year-old artist who lost his inspiration when his muse left him 10 years previously, who regains it when he falls in love with a sixteen-year-old played by Tatum O'Neal. It was the last film directed by acclaimed film noir director Jules Dassin. O'Neal - sixteen at the time of filming - posed for a topless scene.[1]

Circle of Two
Circle of Two DVD cover.jpg
Directed byJules Dassin
Produced byHenk Van der Kolk
Written byThomas Hedley from the novel Lessons in Love by Marie Terese Baird
StarringRichard Burton
Tatum O'Neal
Music byBernard Hoffer
CinematographyLazlo George
Edited byDavid Nicholson
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
Running time
106 min.

The film has been distributed by B-movie company Troma Entertainment. It has also been distributed under the title "Obsession." The film was shot in Toronto. Paintings shown in the movie are done by Toronto artist Harold Town. The film was almost universally ridiculed on its release, and has since then largely been forgotten.[2]

Critical receptionEdit

Circle of Two received mostly negative reviews at the time of its release, and currently has a 33% audience-rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[3] Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide states that "Burton is OK, and Dassin does not go for the cheap thrill, but the result is slight and forgettable."[4]

From People magazine's "Picks and Pans Review":

Richard Burton has carried a film or two in his day, and he tries to tote this one along. Burton, 56, plays a Toronto artist whose muse and passion are revived by a liaison with Tatum O’Neal, 18, a schoolgirl who wants to be a writer. The premise is within reason, if barely. It’s harder to accept the obnoxious supporting characters—her parents and friends, his art world associates—and the actors who play them quite badly. Jules (Never on Sunday) Dassin’s direction and Thomas Hedley’s script are strained too. At one point O’Neal goes on a hunger strike when her parents won’t let her see Burton. “That old gentleman happens to mean more to me than anything else,” she wails. “The next time I eat, it will be with him.” While she’s a decent actress, O’Neal hardly seems attractive enough for the role, even though she records her first nude scene. Burton, meanwhile, gentlemanly underacts, yet his glances and monosyllables are so much more interesting than the rest of the movie they become a form of upstaging.[5]

In his review of Chris Williams' "The Richard Burton Diaries" for Commentary, critic Terry Teachout notes that this film was considered a low point in Burton's long, once-esteemed career:

As Burton grew older, his roles, with few exceptions, grew tawdrier, and he became known, like Laurence Olivier, for his willingness to do anything for money. He stooped so low in 1981 as to appear in Jules Dassin’s Circle of Two, in which he plays a 60-year-old artist who falls for the 16-year-old Tatum O’Neal. By the time of his death three years later, his artistic reputation was in tatters.[6]


External linksEdit


  1. ^ "10 Nude Scenes To Make You Cringe! : 7) Tatum O'Neal in A CIRCLE OF TWO (1980)". Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  2. ^ "Circle of Two (1981) Directed by Jules Dassin". LETTERBOXD. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  3. ^ "CIRCLE OF TWO (1980)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  4. ^ Leonard Maltin (2015). "Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide : Circle of Two". Penguin Random House. p. 253. ISBN 9780142181768.
  5. ^ "Picks and Pans Review : Circle of Two". People. 23 November 1981.
  6. ^ Teachout, Terry (December 2012). "The Devil & Mr. Burton". Commentary.