Full Circle (1977)

UK, Canada (“a United Kingdom/Canadian official co-production”),
98m
35mm film, Panavision (anamorphic), Eastmancolor, 2.35:1
mono, English

A Canadian/British horror film directed by Richard Loncraine. It was shot in Kensington, London and at Lee International Film Studios on Kensal Road in November and December 1976 1English Gothic by Jonathan Rigby p.270 and was released in the UK on 4 May 1978.

Plot Summary

Following the accidental death of her daughter, American in London Julia Lofting flees her husband and tries to make a new life for herself. But her new home is haunted by the ghost of a young girl who died in the 1950s and wants to use Julia to help her get her revenge.

Credits

Crew
Directed by: Richard Loncraine
© 1976 The Montreal Trust Company
Fetter Productions Ltd – Classic Film Industries Ltd presents. The producers acknowledge the participation of Canadian Film Development Corporation & Famous Players Ltd
Executive Producer: Julian Melzack
Produced by: Peter Fetterman & Alfred Pariser
Written by: Dave Humphries
Based on an Adaptation by: Harry Bromley Davenport
From the Novel Julia by: Peter Straub
Director of Photography: Peter Hannan
Film Editor: Ron Wisman
Music Composed & Performed by: Colin Towns
Sound Mixer: Tony Jackson
Wardrobe Designer: Shuna Harwood
Makeup: Richard Mills
Hairdresser: Martin Samuel
Special Effects: Thomas Clark
Art Director: Brian Morris

Cast
Mia Farrow (Julia [Lofting])
Keir Dullea (Magnus [Lofting])
Tom Conti (Mark [Berkeley])
Robin Gammell (Mr [David] Swift)
Jill Bennett (Lily [Lofting])
Cathleen Nesbitt (Mrs [Heather] Rudge)
Anna Wing (Mrs [Rosa] Flood)
Edward Hardwicke (Captain [Paul] Winter)
Mary Morris (Mrs [Greta] Braden)
Pauline Jameson (Mrs [Claudia] Branscombe)
Peter Sallis (Mrs [Jeffrey] Branscombe)
Arthur Howard (Mr Piggott)
Damaris Hayman (Miss Pinner)
Susan Porrett (Mrs Ward)
Sophie Ward (Kate [Lofting])
Hilda Fennemore (Katherine)
Yvonne Edgell (Mrs Flood's niece)
Nigel Havers (estate agent)
Dennis Lill (doctor)
Ann Mitchell (woman in park)

Alternative Titles

Le Cercle infernal – French title
Demonio dalla faccia d'angelo – Italian title
The Haunting of Julia – US title
Julian painajainen – Finnish title
Noidankehä – Finnish title

See also
Don't Look Now (1973)
Rosemary's Baby (1968)

Production Notes

Release
The film was released in the UK on 4 May 1978 at the Plaza 1 in London.

Press

1978
Monthly Film Bulletin vol.45 no.532 (May 1978) p.89
Reverentially tipping its cap to a number of other movies, Secret Ceremony and Don't Look Now, the tone of which it attempts to emulate, Full Circle succeeds in getting almost everything wrong, from the location of the newspaper section of the British Library to the ludicrous, rather than terrifying, effect of having Julia find a mutilated tortoise in a park sandpit where she imagined her daughter had been playing. Curiously, for a work ostensibly dealing with the depths of infant depravity, the film seems to shy away from actually frightening the audience: the camera discreetly tracks behind a chair while Olivia cuts Julia's throat; nothing is made of Magnus' decaying corpse in the basement; and Julia seems not at all anxious when the electrocuted Mark fails to keep their rendezvous. In perhaps the film's most perplexing scene, when a hand runs its fingers over the face of the sleeping Julia, one imagines that a scene from an up-market sex film has been unexpectedly inserted. Keir Dullea has a sketchy part as Julia's stuffy husband; Mia Farrow gives us another haunted waif; and Tom Conti, disappointingly, exudes an air of desperately strained sympathy which registers as unconvincingly as all the film's vacant, glossily photographed flourishes. – from a review by John Pym

Screen International no.138 (13 May 1978) p.18
Although the plot has its more blatant contrivancies like the coincidence of Lily's need for a place to hold a seance, this stands up well both as a plausible ghost story and as a possible study of an unbalanced mind. Director Richard Loncraine creates an atmosphere of nervous tension by avoiding all the obvious shock effects and guiding his cast to play it as a dramatic mystery and let the imaginations of the audiences supply the missing link of terror of the unseen. Mia Farrow, classically beautiful and predominantly passive, holds the delicate balance between reality and hallucination which provokes pity tinged with fear. This balance is reflected and echoed by Colin Towns' music, which is haunting in both senses of the word.- from a review by Marjorie Bilbow

Films and Filming vol.24 no.9 (June 1978) p.42
Full Circle is for two-thirds, or possibly three-quarters, of the way, a genuinely spine-tingling thriller. After that, the end becomes inevitable and, therefore, the suspense no longer exists. No amount of talent or effort – and these are considerable – from cast or director can salvage the predestined anti-climax. […] Displaying the same qualities that carried her through Rosemary's Baby, Mia Farrow is utterly convincing as the lost sheep among the wolves. Keir Dullea is less so as the cardboard husband, out to get his wife, and her money, back into the fold. Tom Conti presents an understated portrait of the concerned ‘best friend', the perennial ‘good guy'. Once or twice, though, the understatement borders on the emotionless. It is probably largely the fault of the script that his character becomes less real, and therefore less important, as the tension-filled minutes tick by. His demise, when it comes, is not predictable, but also it is not mourned. […] Beneath, or behind, the silver-screen, the film belongs to the director, Richard Loncraine the lighting cameraman, Peter Hannan, and the art director, Brian Morris. Between them they have created an awesomely realistic world for Julia and her nightmare to move in. Julia fills her house with warm lights, stylish objects and interesting artifacts. Ultimately, it is thc plot which lets down the action. Because once you have related the title to the presentation, it is clear that the beginning has to be the ending and vice versa. There is a moment when, suddenly, the carefully constructed tension evaporates, the protagonists become sticky with significance and the previously understated looms obvious, and no longer ominous. The last third, or possibly quarter, of the film is tedious; leaving the unfortunate impression that we are not alone; that we have been circling, not only ad infinitum, but also ad nauseam. – from a review by Jenny Craven

1981
Cinefantastique vol.11 no.3 (September 1981) p.50
Creators of must be careful not to give their too much scope. Though specters are usually granted human shape. they mustn't granted complete human license or they'll seem ridiculous. Ghosts shouldn't take cabs unless they are the ghosts of people murdered in cabs: they shouldn't have the run of an entire city unless the city is entirely under the dominion of evil. In a good ghost story, we are given a very specific idea of the perimeter of ghostly influence and the reasons for this influence. That sums up the main problem with The Haunting of Julia, a potentially classic haunted-house story that unfortunately requires the haunting to keep leaving the house … Its exhumation is a worthwhile endeavor. Even the film's flaws are interesting … I suspect that Loncraine and Humphries felt some trepidation about letting the supernatural roam so wide. So they tried to compensate with atmosphere. London is portrayed as a murderous playground. In this film, every child (except Julia's daughter) is made to seem a potential agent of evil. After tense scenes, there are shock cuts to laughing or screaming at play. Loncraine keeps a sense of evil hovering in the air; if all London is a place of childish corruption, then Olivia may strike at any time. But this device carries its own defect: by comparison, the haunted house ceases to feel particularly haunted. Indeed, Loncraine is better at portraying seedy flats and desolate street-corners than the conventional spookiness of the haunted Kensington house, which he explores cursorily. He delivers its frights with off-screen noises and close-ups of the actors reacting to them. Hackneyed devices like Julia screaming at the sudden sight of herself in a mirror are also employed. Loncraine probably was bored by these tricks before he even got on the set, or at least he should have been. Of the actors, Keir Dullea is a disaster, but the other performers are fine, particularly 87-year-old Cathleen Nesbitt and Edward Hardwick as an uncooperative witness. Mia Farrow, though she's not an actress of range or power, is perfect as Julia. She carries her ghosts around inside her. Her aloofness seems a convincing issue of the tragedy she repeatedly rehearses within her heart. – from a review by Richard Alleva

References

Periodicals

  • Cinefantastique vol.11 no.3 (September 1981) p.50 – illustrated review (Reviews by Richard Alleva)
  • Cinefantastique vol.12 no.1 (February 1982) p.17-19 – illustrated article (The Haunting of Julia by Paul R. Gagne)
  • Cinema Canada vol.3 no.47 (June 1978) p.40-41 – review
  • Continental Film Review vol.24 no.7 (May 1977) p.4-5 – note
  • Films and Filming vol.24 no.9 (June 1978) p.42 – credits, review (by Jenny Craven)
  • Films Illustrated vol.6 no.72 (August 1977) p.449-450 – note
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.45 no.532 (May 1978) p.89 – credits, synopsis, review (by John Pym)
  • Screen International no.62 (13 November 1976) p.1, 11 – credits
  • Screen International no.80 (26 March 1977 p.7 – credits (Music recording)
  • Screen International no.83 (16 April 1977 p.28 – illustrated article (Focus on Canada: The statistics)
  • Screen International no.91 (11 June 1977) p.8 – illustrated interview with Irvin Shapiro (The art of selling…)
  • Screen International no.94 (2 July 1977) p.16 – article (Festival round-up by Chris Brown)
  • Screen International no.104 (10 September 1977) p.14 illustrated interview with Richard Loncraine (Loncraine on the importance of style)
  • Screen International no.136 (29 April-5 May 1978) p.2 – note (West End openings)
  • Screen International no.137 (6 May 1978) p.11 – illustrated interview with Peter Fetterman (Peter on the price of independence)
  • Screen International no.138 (13 May 1978) p.18 – credits, review (The new films by Marjorie Bilbow)
  • Shivers no.81 (September 2000) p.54 – illustrated article (by Jonathan Rigby)
  • Starburst no.205 (September 1995) p.19 – soundtrack review (Soundtracks by Richard Sayer)
  • Time Out no.423 (12 May 1978) p.14-15 – interview with Peter Fetterman
  • Variety 28 September 1977 p.24 – credits, synopsis, review
  • Variety vol.285 no.2 (17 November 1976) p.39 – note (Roll Anglo-Canadian ‘Full Circle' in London)
  • Variety vol.285 no.9 (5 January 1977) p.85. – credits (Film production)
  • Variety vol.298 no.3 (23 November 1977) p.34 – note (8 pix lensed under Anglo-Can treaty)
  • Variety vol.303 no.4 (27 May 1981) p.16 – note (contains extracts from the 1977 review)

Books

  • The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror by Phil Hardy (ed.) p.313
  • English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby pp.270-71, 271, 288
  • The Films of the Eighties by Robert A. Nowlan and Gwendolyn Wright Nowlan p.243
  • Ghosts and Angels in Hollywood Films by James Robert Parish p.168 – credits
  • Horror and Science Fiction Films II by Donald C. Willis p.165-166
  • Horror Films of the 1970s by John Kenneth Muir pp.403-405 – credits, synopsis, review
  • Uneasy Dreams: The Golden Age of British Horror Films, 1956-1976 by Gary A. Smith pp.112
  • X-Cert 2: The British Independent Horror Film 1971-1983 pp.235-241; 291

Other sources

BFI Southbank Guide April 2023 p.6 – illustrated listing