- Director:Orson Welles
- Writer:William Shakespeare
- Cast:Orson Welles,Micheál MacLiammóir,Robert Coote
- Time:1h 30min
|Complete credited cast:|
To pay the bills on this film, which took three years to make, Orson Welles took supporting roles in several films, one of which was Svarta rosen (1950). During the filming of this, he greatly annoyed director Henry Hathaway by borrowing various costumes and cameras for use on "Othello". Hathaway complained to his boss Darryl F. Zanuck about this, but the latter, a friend of Welles', just laughed it off. Hathaway was still complaining in interviews in the 1970s.
The movie was shot over three years and production was stopped twice, mainly because Welles ran out of money. He then starred in the films Den tredje mannen (1949) and Skälmarnas furste (1949). He took his payment from those films and used them as money for "Othello".
When he made Svarta rosen (1950), Orson Welles insisted that the coat his character wore be lined with mink, even though the lining would never be visible in the finished film. The producers acquiesced to this demand. When the shoot was over, the coat disappeared. In "Othello", Orson Welles can be seen wearing the same coat, complete with mink lining.
Roderigo's murder in a Turkish bath was devised in that manner because the costumes had been impounded due to non-payment.
Orson Welles' daughter, Beatrice Welles, spent over $1 million on a restoration of the film in 1992. This included enhancing picture quality, re-syncing the audio, adding extra sound effects and re-recording the score in stereo. However, many critics felt that the restoration was ill-advised as it seemed to be based on a re-edit and not the original print that was screened to great acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival in 1952. This, the 1952 version and the 1955 cut for the American market all remain out of print now, due to legal actions brought about by Beatrice Welles.
Orson Welles provides the voice for much of Roderigo's dialogue.
The original 1952 print that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and won the Palme d'Or now resides in the Paris Cinematheque.
According to Welles scholar Jonathon Rosenbaum, not until the final stages of production did the film's producers know that Welles had made two separate versions of the film, one for America and another for Europe (which is the one that premiered at Cannes in 1952.) The restored "Othello" ignored the European elements. In the European version the credits are spoken by Welles, and there is no narration.
When the film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 1952, it did so under the Moroccan flag as Orson Welles was unable to obtain American distribution. He would have to wait another 3 years before that became a possibility.
Suzanne Cloutier, who plays Desdemona, was actually the third actress to play the part during the lengthy shoot. One of the others was Cécile Aubry, who left the shoot when she was offered Svarta rosen (1950), only to bump into Orson Welles on that set once more.
Orson Welles was able to trim the play's usual running time of 3 hours down to a more manageable 90 minutes.
Welles had another actress, Gudrun Ure, dub all dialogue of Suzanne Cloutier. Ure had previously played the part of Desdemona opposite Orson Welles' Othello on stage.
Micheál MacLiammóir (Iago) and Hilton Edwards (Brabantio) were lovers in real life.
Micheál MacLiammóir and his partner Hilton Edwards founded Dublin's Gate Theatre in 1928. That same year Mac Liammoir served as the first artistic director and Edwards the first technical director of the Taibhdhearc Theatre, Ireland's national Irish-language theatre, in Galway City. Both theatres are still in operation, adding much to the cultural life of their country. Welles acted in the Gate's company early in his career.
The lengthy shoot is chronicled in-depth in Micheál MacLiammóir's book "Put Money in Thy Purse".
The only feature film of famed Dublin actor Micheál MacLiammóir.
Suzanne Cloutier was a late replacement for Lea Padovani and Micheál MacLiammóir was a late replacement for Everett Sloane.
Welles had the idea for the round opening in the ceiling of Othello's bedroom after seeing the oculus in the Camera degli Sposi painted by Mantegna in the Ducal Palace in Mantua, showing cherubs looking down from a circular balcony.
There is a shot of one character striking another in the face that took two years to shoot the reaction shot for because Orson Welles was off filming other projects. .