Shakespeare Plays Available in Video Format
Scholars Online Educational Resources


All’s Well That Ends Well
Antony and Cleopatra
As You Like It
The Comedy of Errors
Henry IV, part 1
Henry IV, part 2
Henry V
Henry VI, part 1
Henry VI, part 2
Henry VI, part 3
Henry VIII
Julius Caesar
King John
King Lear
Love’s Labour’s Lost
Measure for Measure
The Merchant of Venice
The Merry Wives of Windsor
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Much Ado About Nothing
Richard II
Richard III
Romeo and Juliet
The Taming of the Shrew
The Tempest
Timon of Athens
Titus Andronicus
Troilus and Cressida
Twelfth Night
Two Gentlemen of Verona
The Winter’s Tale

Available versions

1922: Dimitri Buchowetzki

1952/1955: Orson Welles

1965: Stuart Burge

1981: Jonathan Miller

1981: Frank Melton

1989: Janet Suzman

1990: Trevor Nunn

1995: Oliver Parker

2007: Wilson Milam

2015: Iqbal Khan, Robin Lough


1992: Nikolai Serebryakov (animated)

2001: “O”

2001: Othello

2006: Omkara


2015: Shakespeare Uncovered, Season 2, Episode 3

1981: Frank Melton

This is one of the films in the short series of nine films somewhat overdescribing itself as “The Plays of William Shakespeare”. The avowed agenda of the series to which it belongs is to present Shakespeare’s plays as they were originally conceived and performed, but also free of difficult dialect pronunciations. They succeed in both respects somewhat, but they are clearly made on a shoestring, and are hardly distinguished in their execution. The bar they set for authenticity is fairly low. The real core of this production — and what makes it and some of the others of the series worth watching, by my lights — is the acting of the principals. The appreciation of performances is of course subjective, and your mileage may vary. I have read reviews of this that praise the acting and others that condemn it. You’ll have to make up your own mind; my reactions are my own.

The Oliver Parker Othello with Laurence Fishburne was widely heralded as the first filmed Othello to cast a black actor in the title role. That may be true if one is talking exclusively of major cinematic releases — but the present film, made for television or the educational market, anticipated it by fifteen years, casting William Marshall in the title role. Marshall’s diction is deep, rich, and warm, and his portrayal of Othello invites more sympathy and pity than many others. Marshall probably got his widest exposure in the so-called “blaxploitation” films of the 1970s (especially the Blacula vampire films), but he was an actor of considerable range. I confess I first encountered him as Dr. Daystrom on the original Star Trek (“The Ultimate Computer”) and he appeared in many other television episodes, but he was classically trained, and had magnificent diction. He cuts a very impressive figure as Othello — warm and congenial, and his fall from greatness is affecting.

Jenny Agutter has had a long and creditable career in a variety of classical and popular pieces: she plays Bobbie Waterbury in the 1970 version of The Railway Children, Mother in the 2000 film of the same, and Roberta Faraday in the 1968 television series of the same title as well. Possibly best known for her role in Logan's Run (1976), she has done several pieces of Shakespeare, including Rosaline in the BBC Love's Labour's Lost. She is a versatile actress, and here she takes the role of Desdemona with considerable panache. Her part is somewhat too much cut, but with what remains of it, she captures the pain and confusion of the wrongly accused wife.

Ron Moody plays Iago: Moody remains most famous for the role of Fagin in the 1968 musical Oliver!, where his character is somewhat caricatured; here he plays the conniving Iago with acidic precision. He is not particularly amusing here, nor should he be.

The Duke of Venice is Jay Robinson, who played the mad tyrant Caligula in the massive religious costume drama The Robe (1953). Here his role is neither tyrannical nor mad, and those of us who saw him first in that role may find his presence vaguely unsettling, but he’s certainly adequate.

Some of the lesser roles are a bit disappointing: Bianca has to deliver some of the play’s most passionate lines, but from Eugenia Wright they seem as if they’re being recited by rote without much interpretation, and they emerge in a somewhat flat middle-American diction better suited for her turns in Magnum, P.I. than for Shakespeare. A few other performances follow suit as well. But the leads more than make up for these deficiencies.

There are some deficiencies in the more technical aspects of the production as well: even on DVD the film quality is fairly poor and looks like a second-generation copy of a videotape that's spent too much time on a shelf in a hot cupboard. The sound balance is problematic, as well: sometimes the music overwhelms the dialogue or muddies it. For all that, however, it's a version of the play worth seeing if one can.

Bianca: Eugenia Wright

Brabantio: Peter MacLean

Cassio: DeVeren Bookwalter

Desdemona : Jenny Agutter

Duke of Venice: Jay Robinson

Emilia: Leslie Paxton

First Senator: Lanny Broyles

Friend to Bianca: Anna Dresdon

Gratiano: Arnold Markussen

Iago: Ron Moody

Lodovico: Phillip Persons

Messenger: Daniel Steininger

Montano: Michael Hayward

Othello: William Marshall

Roderigo: Joel Asher

Second Senator: John Bliss

Servant: Linus Huffman

Servant: Patrick Kennedy

Soldier : David Thomas

Soldier: Lee Fairchild

Soldier: Michael J. Utvich

Soldier: Russell Werthman

Soldier: William Nye

Venetian: James Garrett

Venetian: Patricia McPherson

Venetian: Richard Lee Helm