We are told not to use these reviews to find fault with other reviewers, but so much is amiss in so many of the other reviews to be read here that I find it absolutely necessary to comment upon them. Still, first of all, let's just say outright that this is a glorious adaptation of a great play, and my 9 rating would be a 10 if it had been made as a true movie instead of simply a filmed play. As such, it is still glorious, but think of what Olivier might have done with it if given the resources he worked with in HENRY V.
First of all, Othello IS a black man. He is not simply a Moor, or a brown fellow, but black, and Othello and others say this many times in the play. As for Olivier's make-up, it is NOT black face (which is a pejorative term rightly associated with minstrelsy) but simply coloring to make the actor look like the character he is playing. I would go so far as to say that in my somewhat limited experience with white actors playing black roles - pretty much limited to OTHELLO, actually - but we may want to throw some Indians (red or brown, take your choice) or Hispanic roles in there, Olivier's is the most perfect visual realization of a black man I have ever seen by a white man. If you were to look at any photograph of him in the role without the actor being identified as Laurence Olivier, you would not doubt for a minute that a black actor was playing this part. It is rather astoundingly good make-up.
Let's also dismiss this nonsense about Olivier paying any kind of homage to Paul Robeson in this role or, for that matter, that black actors didn't play this role before Robeson came along. They certainly did, at least as far back as in the late 1820s. Also, although Robeson was a quite successful Othello, he was not a greatly lauded one at the time, but only in retrospect, mainly because although he had been gifted with one of the greatest natural singing and speaking voices of his time and was a good actor, he was not a great actor and pretty much supported both his singing and acting interpretations by relying on the glory of that natural voice (Richard Burton was kept from being a truly great actor later on due to that same reliance on voice rather than interpretation - call it 'technique', if you must). For confirmation listen to Robeson's 1943 recorded performance, where he is somewhat overwhelming in terms of pure sound, but where Uta Hagen and Jose Ferrer are displaying most of the true acting chops required. Whether Olivier ever saw Robeson in the role is open to question, but he certainly didn't see him in it during its 280 Broadway performances, because Olivier was in Britain's armed forces during all of that period. The voice he puts on, which is certainly more of a bass than a baritone one, was one of the great shocks of my life when I first heard it - how could the always-tenor-toned Olivier get down there with Robeson, Welles and Ezio Pinza(!), but he did. Also, there was a very noted black actor successfully playing Othello at the time, one whose natural voice was just about as deep as Robeson's (or Olivier's put on) voice, and that was William Marshall (Blacula, unfortunately, to later generations), who may actually have been a better actor than Robeson or Welles (Orson was a very great director, but only a very good actor).
Olivier had not played Othello before the 1960s because he was smitten with the role of Iago, which he did play to Ralph Richardson's Othello in the late 1940s. (The story was that Olivier introduced a not-too-subtle homoerotic theme into Iago's hatred of Othello, but they never made Richardson aware of it, and it went right over his head. Ralph was very straitlaced as well as very straight!)
There may have been some criticisms of Olivier's Othello, but most of the criticism I remember of it at the time was overwhelmingly laudatory, so much so that the original English production got a quite huge article written about it in LIFE magazine at the time, and Olivier pretty much walked away with that year's entire London theatrical season.
As for only black actors doing Othello now, that is pretty much true, but unfortunate, because any actor should be able to play any of the great roles which his talent will allow for, and for which audiences are willing to pay to see. At the Met Opera, their recent production of Verdi's OTELLO dictated that the tenor playing the role eschew black make-up entirely, so that the black character, referred to so often as black in the opera, too, and part of whose baggage regarding his falling so easily for Iago's treacherous insinuations about Desdemona is that very blackness - his outsider status as both a black man and a non-Venetian (which should explain Olivier's 'strange' accent in the movie) making Iago's job easy. Result? We got to see Otello as a white and pasty-faced Russian! It was ridiculous, but no more so than denying the stage role to non-blacks. Maybe only Jews should play Shylock and only Danes attempt Hamlet, but who the hell is racially or ethnically 'correct' for Caliban?
Anyway, despite what others have written, and what I have here responded to, no one in his or her right mind should deny themselves the chance to see such great acting as is on display here.