Film: The Trial (1962)

Like most Welles-directed movies, The Trial is about a search for information, the solving of a mystery. In this case, Josef K. is on trial without knowing why. In the existential quest that follows, he tries to investigate the system in which he is a prisoner. It is based on the novel by Franz Kafka, author of the stories “The Metamorphosis” and “A Hunger Artist.”

Josef K. is played by Anthony Perkins; Jeanne Moreau, Romy Schneider, and Elsa Martinelli also starring. Welles standby Akim Tamiroff plays a small role.

Anthony Perkins is of course best known for the role of Norman Bates in Psycho, which came out two years before The Trial.

Jeanne Moreau was a famed stage actress who had starred in Louis Malle’s 1958 “Elevator to the Gallows.”
Romy Schneider was a fetching Austrian actress who made her film debut at 15 and who made a name for herself in the trilogy Sissi.

Elsa Martinelli had played leading or supporting roles in several European films, and after The Trial, would co-star with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in The V.I.P.s.

Welles was nothing if not a trans-Atlantic continent hopper, and The Trial marks his return to Europe after shooting Touch of Evil in the U.S. Shooting began in Yugoslavia and moved to Paris. Here, Welles and crew shot interiors in the train station Gare d’Orsay.

The film also opened in Paris, and wasn’t very well-received. Some of the trouble was Anthony Perkins as Josef K. “I think everyone has an idea of K. as some sort of little Woody Allen,” Welles would later say.

The movie was neither terribly critically-acclaimed nor a juggernaut at the box office.


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