Orson Welles visually striking production of Franz Kafka’s novel written in 1914 and 1915 and published in 1925. It includes his famous parable “Before The Law.” Anthony Perkins gives a great performance as Joseph K, a man accused of a crime but is never told what the crime is.
After 6 am the police come into Joseph’s K’s room and inform him he’s being arrested. They don’t tell him why. Three clerks from his office are there to testify against him but they don’t say a word. One is too busy checking out pictures of fellow lodger Marika Burstner’s (Jeanne Moreau) mother. Marika is a nightclub performer. She doesn’t want to get mixed up in whatever it is that’s gotten Joseph into trouble.
At the office he encounters his Uncle Max who says he should consult with Albert Hastler (Orson Welles), an advocate. Before that Joseph walks into a courtroom with a few thousand people who boo or applaud on cue. The magistrates still don’t tell him what his crime is. In the back he sees the courtroom guard Hilda (Elsa Martinelli) being fondled. .
The bizarreness continues as Joseph sees Hastler. His attentive nurse/mistress is Leni (Romy Schneider). While Max talks with Hastler she distracts Joseph into going into another room with her. He eventually gets out of there and has an encounter with Hilda and then her husband.
He has a bad experience with Hastler who demeans a client named Bloch (Akim Tamiroff). Joseph tells Hastler he’s firing him. On the way out Leni tells him to see Titorelli. He’s the artist that paints the portraits of the law judges and knows everything that’s going on. On the way up to the loft studio he’s followed by a mob of young girls. No help there.
The movie comes to a strange ending that’s fitting with the whole production. It is definteley worth seeking out.