Trivia / Othello

The play

The 1951 Orson Welles film:

  • Doing It for the Art: On the first day of shooting, the Italian producer announced that he was bankrupt. So Orson Welles financed the movie out of his own pocket.
  • The Other Marty: The lengthy shoot meant that some roles had to be recast, and scenes re-shot:
    • Suzanne Cloutier replaced Lea Padovani, who had replaced Cecile Aubry.
    • Michael MacLiammoir replaced Everett Sloane.
  • Prop Recycling: Orson Welles borrowed many props and costumes from The Black Rose, which he starred in to help finance this. Notably he insisted on his costume on The Black Rose having mink lining, specifically for use in Othello later.
  • Romance on the Set: Between Michael MacLiammoir (Iago) and Hilton Edwards (Brabantio)
  • Same Language Dub: Suzanne Cloutier was dubbed by Gudrun Ure for the American release.
  • Serendipity Writes the Plot: Rodrigo dies in a Turkish bath because the costumes had been impounded due to non payment.
  • Troubled Production: It was shot over a three year period, and production was stopped twice, because Orson Welles kept running out of money and had to star in other films to finance it.

The 1965 film:

  • Directed by Cast Member: Subverted. Along with his version of As You Like It, the only Shakespeare adaptation that Laurence Olivier starred in but did not direct.
  • Fake Nationality: Laurence Olivier appears in Blackface and speaks with an ambiguously exotic accent.
  • Genre Turning Point: Maggie Smith's Silk Hiding Steel portrayal of Desdemona is thought to be the performance that saw the character being Rescued from the Scrappy Heap. Many productions had downplayed her role to focus on Othello and Iago, but Desdemona was given more prominence in productions made afterwards.
  • No Budget: They couldn't find a financial backer for the project, so the budget was very low.
  • The Other Darrin: Most of the cast carried over from the original stage production. The exceptions were Anthony Nicolls - who replaced Martin Boddey as Brabantio - and Robert Lang replacing Michael Rothwell as Roderigo.
  • Prop Recycling: As Laurence Olivier's regular backers for his Shakespeare films were dead by the 60s, he had to use enlarged duplicates of the sets in his original staged version.