Between 1948 and 1952 Orson Welles directed The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice (1952), produced as a black-and-white film noir. The film stars Welles as Othello and Suzanne Cloutier as Desdemona. The troubled production was filmed over the course of three years as Welles' time and money permitted, in Mogador, Morocco and Venice. Lack of funds (and costumes) forced Roderigo's death scene to be shot in a Turkish bath with performers wearing only large, ragged towels. The film won the Palme d'Or at the 1952 Cannes Film Festival. Rather than focusing on racial disparity, the film plays on a difference between Desdemona and Othello in age, size and personal attractiveness. The film noir colouring of the picture minimised any commentary on Othello's blackness, to the point that the critic F. R. Leavis wrote that the film made no reference to Othello's colour.
Unlike Welles's film, Stuart Burge's Othello (1965), based on John Dexter's National Theatre Company's production, starring Laurence Olivier, brings issues of race to the fore, with Olivier putting on an 'African accent' and entering in a large 'ethnic' necklace and a dressing gown. He commented, however, that he did "not dare to play the Moor as a full-blooded negro". One contemporary critic found the coloration too much, commenting that Olivier was "blacker than black, almost blue" .
The first major screen production casting a black actor as Othello would not come until 1995 with Laurence Fishburne opposite Kenneth Branagh's Iago - not that there have been many major screen productions ofOthello: most film versions to date have been filmed stage productions. It was made during the O. J. Simpson trial and commentators such as Cartmell draw parallels between the two whodunit murder stories, and wondered if the film's release was not a little to do with the publicity surrounding Simpson's drama. A modernised, loose retelling, O, completed in 1999 and released in 2001, featured African-American actorMekhi Phifer in the lead role, which was renamed from "Othello" to "Odin James" or "O. J.", with the story set in an American high school and revolving around sports rather than warfare.
Malayalam film Kaliyattam is an adapted version of Othello against the backdrop of the Hindu Theyyam performance. In 1998, Suresh Gopi received the National Film Award for Best Actor, and Jayaraj the award for Best Director for their work on the film.
Omkara is a version in Hindi set in Uttar Pradesh, starring Ajay Devgan as Omkara (Othello), Saif Ali Khan as Langda Tyagi (Iago), Kareena Kapoor as Dolly (Desdemona), Vivek Oberoi as Kesu (Cassio), Bipasha Basu as Billo (Bianca) and Konkona Sen Sharma as Indu (Emilia). The film was directed by Vishal Bhardwaj who earlier adapted Shakespeare's Macbeth as Maqbool. All characters in the film share the same letter or sound in their first name as in the original Shakespeare classic. It is one of the few mainstream Indian movies to contain uncensored profanity.
- 1909 silent film shot in Venice
- 1909 German directed by, and stars, Franz Porten as Othello, Henny Porten as Desdemona, and Rosa Porten as Emilia.
- 1914 silent film shot in Venice
- 1922 Othello, German, starring Emil Jannings as Othello, Werner Krauss as Iago, and Ica von Lenkeffy as Desdemona
- 1952 Othello, United States, directed by, and stars, Orson Welles as Othello, also starring Micheál Mac Liammóir as Iago, Robert Coote as Roderigo, Suzanne Cloutier as Desdemona, Michael Laurence as Cassio, Fay Compton as Emilia and Doris Dowling as Bianca.
- 1955 Othello, USSR, starring Sergei Bondarchuk, Irina Skobtseva, Andrei Popov. Directed by Sergei Yutkevich.
- 1956 Jubal, Western setting
- 1962 All Night Long (British) Othello is Rex, a jazz bandleader. Dave Brubeck and other jazz musicians.
- 1965 Othello with Laurence Olivier, Maggie Smith, Frank Finlay, and Joyce Redman
- 1974 Catch My Soul adapted from Jack Good's rock musical, directed by Patrick McGoohan and starring Richie Havens, Lance LeGault, Season Hubley and Tony Joe White.
- 1982 Othello, the Black Commando written by and starring Max H. Boulois with Tony Curtis as Colonel Iago and Joanna Pettet as Desdemona
- 1986 Otello, adaptation of Verdi's opera of the same name
- 1995 Othello with Kenneth Branagh, Laurence Fishburne, and Irène Jacob. Directed by Oliver Parker.
- 1997 Kaliyattam in Malayalam, a modern update, set in Kerala, starring Suresh Gopi as Othello, which won him the national award for best actor, Lal as Iago, Manju Warrier as Desdemona, directed by Jayaraaj.
- 2001 O, a modern update, set in an American high school. Stars Mekhi Phifer as Odin (Othello), Julia Stiles as Desi (Desdemona), and Josh Hartnett as Hugo (Iago).
- 2002 Eloise a modern update, set in Sydney, Australia.
- 2004 Stage Beauty, a romantic period drama, set in the 17th century, on the theme of male and female actors playing women's roles — with the role of Desdemona as the example.
- 2006 Omkara, a Hindi film adaptation of Othello directed by Vishal Bhardwaj
- 2008 Jarum Halus a modern updated Malaysian version, in English and Malay by Mark Tan.
- 2012 Otel•lo, a free adaptation directed by Hammudi Al-Rahmoun Font.