Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
United Kingdom, 1962. The Rank Organisation. Screenplay by Nel King, Paul Jarrico, based on the play Othello by William Shakespeare. Cinematography by Edward Scaife. Produced by Michael Relph, Bob Roberts. Music by Philip Green. Production Design by Ray Simm. Costume Design by Julie Harris. Film Editing by John D. Guthridge.
Shakespeare’s Othello is loosely updated to an anniversary party among jazz musicians and their friends in this atmospheric drama by Basil Dearden. Richard Attenborough sets up the soiree for his popular musician friend Paul Harris and wife Marti Stevens on their one-year anniversary, she a former singer who has put aside her career thanks to having found satisfaction in marriage. Musician Patrick McGoohan wants to start his own band but has been told he can only get backing if he can convince Stevens to come out of retirement, making him desperate enough to turn Iago and convince Harris that his wife has been cheating on him with his band manager (Keith Michell). The martinis fly and things actually get pretty intense by the exciting climax, all of it backed up by a superb soundtrack (including Dave Brubeck on screen) for a marvelously intelligent affair featuring gorgeous cinematography and terrific direction. Most refreshingly, it’s a film from 1962 where a white woman married to a black man is not an issue to be discussed (neither, for that matter, are the joints that many of the cast members take out to enjoy).