Sog.: based on the novel of the same name (1925) by Franz Kafka. Scen.: Orson Welles. F.: Edmond Richard. M.: Yvonne Martin, Fritz H. Müller, Orson Welles. Scgf.: Jean Mandaroux. Mus.: Jean Ledrut. Int.: Anthony Perkins (Josef K.), Orson Welles (Hastler), Jeanne Moreau (la signorina Bürstner), Romy Schneider (Leni), Elsa Martinelli (Hilda), Suzanne Flon (la signora Grubach), Akim Tamiroff (Block), Arnoldo Foà (l’ispettore). Prod.: Alexander Salkind, Michel Salkind per Paris-Europa Productions, Hisa-Film, Finanziaria Cinematografica Italiana (FICIT). DCP. Bn.
After Luchino Visconti and a role as a cheated countess, after Alain Cavalier and his bourgeois adultery, Romy Schneider’s next role was to be Leni, the nymphomaniac assistant of a tyrannical lawyer in Orson Welles’ Le Procès. It’s true to say that sexuality was a constant feature in the roles chosen by the actress … Schneider loved provocation, her filmography proves it. Breakup roles made her move forward, advance, reflect, like the character of Leni, who develops in a dreamlike, mysterious universe. The story, adapted from the eponymous unfinished novel by Franz Kafka (1925), is that of Joseph K. (Anthony Perkins), who is stopped one morning by the police and accused of a crime he knows nothing about. Leni is a supporting role and Romy had only ten days of shooting on a film that took over two months to shoot. But to be directed by such a genius was obviously an incredible opportunity that she seized immediately with both hands. […]
The result was truly remarkable. In a lightweight dress, barefoot, her hair unkempt, Leni throws herself at Anthony Perkins. While a storm brews outside, she wants to make love with him on a pile of books. The image in black and white adds to the air of mystery. It’s Leni who does the seducing, but she’s also the one who wants to help Joseph, to give him back his freedom. When it was released, comparisons were made between the prison-like world of the film and its setting in the political world of the post-war years. For the third time in a year, the public discovered a completely metamorphosed Schneider. She could barely take it in: “Orson Welles did something completely new with me. I performed without any makeup, often looking ugly. It was the first time that I didn’t recognise myself in a closeup, and for me, as an actress, it was hugely satisfying, a confirmation that I was Leni! So my instinct was right!”
Isabelle Giordano, Romy Schneider: Film par film, Gallimard, Paris 2017