A leading actor is overly influenced by the roles he plays and becomes jealous toward his former wife while playing Othello.
Anthony John (Ronald Coleman) is starring in a comedy, and Max Lasker (Philip Loeb) asks him to play Othello. Anthony is divorced from Brita (Signe Hasso), but they still love each other. Brita tells Bill Friend (Edmond O'Brien) that Anthony's mood depends on the play he is in at the time. They got married while playing a comedy but divorced while doing Chekhov. Brita warns Anthony not to play Othello.
In an Italian restaurant Anthony meets waitress Pat Kroll (Shelley Winters), and he goes to her apartment. He does not give his name because he is not sure who he is. Anthony asks Brita to play Desdemona. Anthony rehearses the play and opens as Othello. In the last act he strangles Desdemona in the bedroom scene while kissing her. Director Victor Donlan (Ray Collins), Max, and Bill drink in the bar. Othello stabs himself at the end of the play.
At the party Anthony feels strange and hears voices. After 300 performances Brita tells Anthony that he is hurting her in the choking scene. Anthony visits Brita and is jealous of Bill. Anthony goes to see Pat, and she suggests putting out the light. He strangles her to death, and Al Cooley (Millard Mitchell) investigates. Anthony goes to see Brita again but does not stay long.
The police investigator Cooley tells Bill that Pat died from a kiss of death. Anthony complains about the newspaper story of the Othello murder to Bill and hits him. Bill hits him back, and Anthony tries to strangle him. Bill goes to Pete Bonner (Joe Sawyer) and tells him he thinks he knows who committed the murder, but Pete says they found it was a drunk. Bill visits Brita and says that Anthony knows how he feels about her. Bill kisses her, and she says Anthony has been wandering off.
Bill gets an actress to look like Pat. He calls Anthony to meet him at a bar. Pete is there to observe. Anthony becomes upset when he sees the waitress is like Pat. Pete and Bill question a man where Pat worked, and he recognizes photos of Anthony. In the last act Anthony acts strangely, stabs himself, and collapses. Brita sees blood. Anthony is carried off, and Bill sends for a doctor. Anthony talks with Bill while Brita takes her curtain call. Brita comes back; Anthony says her name and dies.
This theatrical drama depicts an extreme case of the
psychological problems that actors may experience from delving
so emotionally into various roles.