The Trial (1962)
"Le procès" (original title)

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An unassuming office worker is arrested and stands trial, but he is never made aware of his charges.



(adaptation), (based on the novel by), 1 more credit »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Inspector A
Jess Hahn ...
Second Assistant Inspector
Billy Kearns ...
First Assistant Inspector (as William Kearns)
Madeleine Robinson ...
Mrs. Grubach
Maurice Teynac ...
Deputy Manager
Naydra Shore ...
Miss Pittl
Raoul Delfosse ...
Jean-Claude Rémoleux ...
Max Buchsbaum ...
Carl Studer ...
Man in Leather (as Karl Studer)
Max Haufler ...
Uncle Max


Josef K wakes up in the morning and finds the police in his room. They tell him that he is on trial but nobody tells him what he is accused of. In order to find out about the reason of this accusation and to protest his innocence, he tries to look behind the facade of the judicial system. But since this remains fruitless, there seems to be no chance for him to escape from this Kafkaesque nightmare. Written by Joern Richts <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Parents Guide:




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Release Date:

30 March 1963 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

The Trial  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (TV)

Sound Mix:

(Optiphone) (source format)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


Orson Welles originally wanted Jackie Gleason to play the advocate. Welles was going to play the priest, which would have made the fable in the beginning be further justified. See more »


When Josef K. follows Hilda being carried out of the large trial room/hall by the law student, he hastily grabs and throws on his suit jacket. In the succeeding scenes, the jacket's buttons which are buttoned changes. See more »


[first lines]
Narrator: Before the law, there stands a guard. A man comes from the country, begging admittance to the law. But the guard cannot admit him. May he hope to enter at a later time? That is possible, said the guard. The man tries to peer through the entrance. He'd been taught that the law was to be accessible to every man. "Do not attempt to enter without my permission", says the guard. I am very powerful. Yet I am the least of all the guards. From hall to hall, door after door, each guard is ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

The end cast credits are read over by Orson Welles without titles See more »


Version of The Trial (1993) See more »


Adagio in G
Music by Tomaso Albinoni
Arranged by Jean Ledrut
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The Best Legal Drama or Paranoia Film Ever Made
18 April 2004 | by (Boston, Mass) – See all my reviews

Like most people, I've read Kafka. "The Trial" was one of the books I read for credit during high-school. I always thought it was a good book that did a great job depicting a reality based around a state of mind. While I liked the book and held it in high esteem compared to other literature I'd read, it couldn't prepare me for the incredible experience of Orson Welles's great adaptation "The Trial" ("Le Proces"). The man who once delivered the best movie ever made (in America) to a major studio made this masterpiece on almost no money and limited resources in two European countries with no sets.

Norman Bates himself, Anthony Perkins turns in a convincing performance as Joseph K. K awakes one morning to find the police in his apartment arresting him without taking him into custody or telling him what he's charged with. People come and go from the room with a creepy, unnatural ere that makes it all seem less real. Every aspect of K's life becomes warped as he realizes everyone expects him to behave differently but he isn't sure how and his attempts to correct himself get him deeper into trouble. He's lead to a secret meeting that turns out to be his hearing which turns out to be a mockery. K gets a lawyer, played by Welles himself (who has one of the best entrances in screen history here), but he turns out to more of a villain than a deliverance. Every woman K meets is attracted to him, presumably because he's accused. Our hero is a marked man who can't understand the game and is appalled by the rules. As K ventures deeper into the secrets of the mysterious legal system he becomes more and more convinced that he is doomed and for no reason at all. The movie builds to an astounding climax that fits the dream tone perfectly and surpasses any expectations.

"The Trial" is set in an unnamed country in a city composed of decaying industrial buildings, old factories, shady tenements, and empty streets. Welles filmed much of this in an abandoned train station in Paris and the ad-hoc location proves to be the perfect psychological landscape. Welles took Kafka's paranoia over the persecution of Jews and updated it to a post-war setting where the law is the enemy of every man, or as in this case, the everyman. This is no mere portrait of fascism or communism, but a condemnation of abuses of the law everywhere. The landscape is highly engaging, and some modern buildings are thrown in the mix, perhaps to remind the viewer that this could happen here in America, too. "The Trial" is one of the most memorable settings in screen history and Welles gives us a taste of its terrors from lofty heights to claustrophobic depths.

Welles always said that the dialogue was priority number one, and here every scrap of it is memorable. In spite of the spectacular lines, the visual style is awe inspiring and it's a bit shocking to consider that this was the end of production that Welles never planned. The look is very film noir, like a 50s detective picture, but darker, almost to the point of being horror. This movie runs on fear, but maintains dramatic pathos and a sense of humor that help it rise above other films with that intention. People call Welles's films "style over substance", but if you watch the opening bedroom scene, you'll agree that this film kept them in harmony.

Akim Tamiroff ("Ocean's 11") and Romy Schneider ("What's New Pussycat") shine in supporting roles as the lawyers subordinates, slaves who play inside the rules to save themselves. They help to flesh his out as not merely an adaptation of Kafka's work, but an expanded drama, brought to life with the skill of Shakespeare and a lens worthy of Hitchcock. This is more than a parable, it's a human drama that bathes in pure expressions of fear and depression.

"The Trial" is easily the best film of its year if not of that decade. It should be seen by fans of good film and by audiences in general "because tomorrow, or someday soon, it could happen to you!"

85 of 97 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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