Though debatable as an adaptation of the Franz Kafka novel, Orson Welles’s nightmarish, labyrinthine comedy of 1962—shot mainly in Paris’s abandoned Gare d’Orsay and various locations in Zagreb and Rome after he had to abandon his plan to use sets—remains his creepiest and most disturbing work; it’s also a lot more influential than people usually admit (e.g., After Hours, the costume store sequences in Eyes Wide Shut). Anthony Perkins gives an adolescent temper to Joseph K, a bureaucrat mysteriously brought to court for an unspecified crime. Among the predatory females who pursue him are Jeanne Moreau, Romy Schneider, and Elsa Martinelli; Welles himself plays the hero’s tyrannical lawyer, and Akim Tamiroff is one of his oldest clients. Welles adroitly captures the experience of an unsettling and slightly hysterical dream throughout. Given the impact of screen size on what he’s doing, you can’t claim to have seen this if you’ve watched it only on video.
1 hour 58 min • 1962