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Othello (1965)

Unrated | | Drama | 3 May 1966 (UK)
General Othello's marriage is destroyed when vengeful Ensign Iago convinces him that his new wife has been unfaithful.


Stuart Burge


William Shakespeare (play)
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 1 win & 6 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Lang ... Roderigo
Frank Finlay ... Iago
Anthony Nicholls ... Brabantio
Laurence Olivier ... Othello
Roy Holder ... Clown
Derek Jacobi ... Cassio
David Hargreaves ... Senate Officer
Malcolm Terris ... Senate Officer / Senators-Soldiers-Cypriots
Michael Turner ... Gratiano
Kenneth MacKintosh Kenneth MacKintosh ... Lodovico (as Kenneth Mackintosh)
Harry Lomax Harry Lomax ... Duke of Venice
Terence Knapp Terence Knapp ... Duke's Officer / Senators-Soldiers-Cypriots
Keith Marsh Keith Marsh ... Senator
Tom Kempinski Tom Kempinski ... Sailor / Senators-Soldiers-Cypriots
Nick Edmett Nick Edmett ... Messenger / Senators-Soldiers-Cypriots (as Nicholas Edmett)


Desdemona (Dame Maggie Smith) defies her father to marry the Moor of Venice, the mighty warrior, Othello (Sir Laurence Olivier). But Othello's old Ensign, Iago (Frank Finlay), doesn't like Othello, and is determined to bring about the downfall of Othello's new favorite, Cassio (Sir Derek Jacobi), and destroy Othello in the process, by casting aspersions on Othello's new bride. Written by Kathy Li

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


An actual performance of the National Theatre of Great Britain See more »




Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


At 1 hour, 30 minutes and 43 seconds, Frank Finlay's performance is the longest ever Oscar nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. It is not the longest performance in the film, however, since Laurence Olivier's is three minutes longer. See more »


Desdemona's chest is still going up and down (like she's breathing) after she dies. See more »


Othello: [to the Senate] Most, potent, grave and reverend Seigniors; My very noble and approved good masters, That I have ta'en away this old man's daughter, It is most true; true I have married her. The very head and front of my offending Hath this extent, no more.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The film's U.S. DVD release restores the Warner Bros. logo backed by a red curtain and fanfare music to the opening credits, and the "Intermission" title card about ninety minutes into the film. These have not been seen since the film's original U.S. release; they were not featured on the videocassette edition. The long-deleted "intermission break" occurs immediately after Othello says to Iago, "Now art thou my lieutenant" and Iago answers "I am your own forever". See more »


Version of The Philco Television Playhouse: Othello (1953) See more »


Music by Jack Trombey
De Wolfe Music Ltd
See more »

User Reviews

Still the best OTHELLO on film after 40 Years despite first rate competition
16 October 2004 | by escheticSee all my reviews

Viewing this superb filmed stage production (as well and faithfully filmed as any stage production could be) many may question why a Shakespearian actor of Olivier's standing resisted playing The Moor of Venice as hard as he did. The reason is absolutely plain in his performance - Paul Robeson's world shattering Broadway performance on Broadway for the Theatre Guild in 1943 (tragically, never filmed, but recorded complete by Columbia Records).

It was Robeson (the first major black actor to play the part in a major commercial production - 280 performances at the Shubert Theatre, where A CHORUS LINE would eventually set musical records) who changed how we look at Othello - previously usually played as the MOOR Shakespeare wrote (frequently played in blackface, but the key element was the Islamic roots in North Africa - see Orson Welles' 1952 film, documenting for virtually the only time on sound film the earlier tradition - Welles would not have made a credible black man), and critics in 1943 drew the distinction between a Moor and a "Black-a-Moor". After Robeson, it became nearly impossible to think of anyone but a black actor in the role. Either way, the tale of the perpetual outsider, cautioning against jealousy and spousal abuse AGES before they became popular "causes" rings remarkably true.

Finally persuaded to add the Moor of Venice to his Shakespearian repertoire, and ultimately (he toured it all over Europe first) to his long list of distinguished Shakespearian films - after his brilliant HENRY V, it is probably his best - Olivier did everything in his power to honor, even copy, the Robeson performance.

YES, Frank Findlay runs away with the piece as Iago, and Maggie Smith's accent occasionally jars, but younger audiences will be astonished at the young "Professor McGonagall". This and THE HONEY POT may be her best films. It is remarkable Smith didn't have whiplash after playing over a hundred performances of the extremely physical bedroom scene. All told this all star cast still surpasses the excellent, frequently AS well acted but shorter, more "movie-movie" versions from Laurence Fishburne et al..

Olivier is so good in this role which has been one of Fishburne's best, I'd love to see what Fishburne could do with HENRY V; I bet it would be great.

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Release Date:

3 May 1966 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Othello See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track | Stereo


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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