Internet Shakespeare Editions

Shakespeare in Performance: Film

The Tragedy of Othello, The Moor of Venice: A Motion Picture Adaptation of the Play by William Shakespeare (1952, Orson Welles)

TitleThe Tragedy of Othello, The Moor of Venice: A Motion Picture Adaptation of the Play by William Shakespeare
Release LocationsItaly
DirectorOrson Welles
MediumBlack & white video
Length1 hrs, 31 mins
Audiencecollege and university
general public
Play ConnectionsOthello (interpretation)


As with all of the late Orson Welles's films, this one proved no exception in subjecting everyone involved to what sounds like a fictional Hollywood backstage drama. Orson Welles, America's greatest film director, did not impress bankers as much as cineastes, perhaps because he never hesitated to make films based on Shakespearean plays, even though the box office rewards were less than promising. Micheál MacLiammóir, who played Iago, wrote a book about the making of Othello that is a mine of amusing anecdotes. Welles, for example, saw Iago's impotence as the key to his character. That made MacLiammoir worry over whether or not Welles thought MacLiammoir looked impotent! (See MacLiammóir, Micheál, Put Money in Thy Purse: A Diary of the Film of Othello. London: Methuen, 1952)

Description from Shakespeare on Screen : an International Filmography and Videography by Kenneth S. Rothwell and Annabelle Henkin Melzer. ©1990 Kenneth S. Rothwell. Cited by permission. — Added 2008-11-14

Cast Overview

BrabantioHilton Edwards
SenatorJoseph Cotten
LodovicoNicholas Bruce
OthelloOrson Welles
CassioMichael Lawrence
IagoMichaél MacLiammóir
RoderigoRobert Coote
MontanoJean Davis
DesdemonaSuzanne Cloutier
EmiliaFay Compton
BiancaDoris Dowling
PageJoan Fontaine

Production Team and Crew Overview

DirectorOrson Welles
ProducerOrson Welles
EditorRenzo Lucidi
EditorWilliam Morton
EditorJean Sacha
EditorJohn Shepridge
ComposerAlberto Barberis
ComposerFrancesco Lavagnino
Adaptor/TranslatorJean Sacha
Adaptor/TranslatorOrson Welles
CostumesMaria de Matteis
ConductorWilly Ferrero
PhotographyR. Fusi
ProductionMaria de Matteis
Production AssociateJulien Derode
ProductionLuigi Schiaccianoce
ProductionAlexander Trauner
OtherG. R. Aldo
OtherAnchisi Brizzi
OtherGeorge Fanto
OtherO. Troani

Production information courtesy of: Kenneth Rothwell