Orson Welles had attempted Shakespeare's OTHELLO 14 years before, but that version pales in comparison to this. This version began as a play at the Chichester Festival in 1964, then was taken to London for the National Theatre. The man who directed that stage version, John Dexter, staged
the action for this film; film director Burge gets the credit here, although this is such a stage-bound affair that one can't perceive where Dexter ends and Burge commences. Jocelyn Herbert's stage sets were transformed for the screen by Kellner, although all of them seem to have been physically
transported, rather than redesigned. The main reason for seeing this is, of course, Olivier in another of his towering performances. Olivier, in blackface, is the Moor who wears a crucifix and crosses himself but who is nonetheless culturally alien. He is more than ably counterpointed by Smith's
Desdemona, a sweet, gullible, and totally innocent creature who has the misfortune of being betrayed. Finlay, as Iago, is too old to make us believe he is the 28 years of age the script calls for him to be; obviously he has been directed to play the villain in a quieter fashion than is customary.
Jacobi, who was not to be recognized internationally until he did TV's "I, Claudius," is a wonder of restraint in the role of Cassio, a part that has been played many times before with rolling eyes and stentorian speech. As a movie, this is a great play and was nominated by the Academy for the
work of Olivier, Finlay, Redman, and Smith.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Orson Welles had attempted Shakespeare's OTHELLO 14 years before, but that version pales in comparison to this. This version began as a play at the Chichester Festival in 1964, then was taken to London for the National Theatre. The man who directed that st… (more)