The Tragedy of Othello
In this shortened version of Shakespeare’s play the ambitious Iago, who covets the promotion that Othello gave to Michael Cassio, makes the Moor jealous of his bride Desdemona.
Iago (Micheal MacLiammoir) hates Othello (Orson Welles) and tells Roderigo (Robert Coote) that Othello’s marriage to Desdemona (Suzanne Cloutier) cannot last. Her father Brabantio accuses Othello of winning Desdemona with magic. Othello speaks to the Senate about how he courted Desdemona. She tells Brabantio that she has chosen Othello.
Iago resents Michael Cassio (Michael Lawrence) for being promoted ahead of him. Othello returns from victory in war to celebrate. Iago tells Roderigo that Desdemona is in love with Cassio. Iago gets Cassio drunk, starts a quarrel, and cries “Mutiny!” Othello comes out and asks Iago who began it. Othello demotes Cassio.
Iago suggests that Cassio appeal to Desdemona. She asks Othello to forgive Cassio. Iago implies that Cassio loves Desdemona and warns Othello not to be jealous. Iago makes Othello suspicious. Desdemona drops her handkerchief. Iago’s wife Emilia (Fay Compton) gives it to Iago.
Jealous Othello asks Iago for proof. Iago says what Cassio said and did in his sleep. Iago tells Othello that Desdemona gave the handkerchief to Cassio. Othello promotes Iago, who puts the handkerchief in Cassio’s room.
Othello asks Desdemona for the handkerchief while she pleads for Cassio. Iago has Othello listen to his conversation with Cassio. Bianca (Doris Dowling) asks Cassio about the handkerchief he gave her. Othello tells Iago that he will kill Desdemona. Iago continues to provoke his jealousy. Othello says farewell to his military career.
Visitors from Venice see that Othello has changed in his attitude toward Desdemona. In private Othello accuses Desdemona. Emilia asks Desdemona what is wrong with Othello. Iago advises Othello to strangle Desdemona in her bed, and Iago will go after Cassio. Emilia says some knave made Othello suspect Desdemona.
Roderigo complains that Iago has used his jewels, but he has gained nothing. Iago urges Roderigo to kill Cassio with him. Roderigo and Cassio wound each other, and Iago kills Roderigo.
Desdemona asks Emilia if she would betray her husband. For the world Emilia says she would. Othello comes to kill Desdemona and finds her in bed. He tells her to pray. She denies that she gave anything to Cassio. Othello smothers her. Othello lets Emilia in. Desdemona denies that Othello killed her and dies. He says she lied. Emilia says that Othello murdered Desdemona and explains that Desdemona was innocent. Emilia gave the handkerchief to Iago. Officials come in and replace Othello with Cassio. Othello calls Iago a devil. Othello says he became jealous, and then he kills himself.
This classic tragedy shows how powerful emotions can be manipulated and motivate people to commit irrational crimes.