Screen Test Number Two | Chicago Reader

Screen Test Number Two

The camera never moves as it frames the face of a man playing a woman auditioning for the part of Esmeralda in a movie an offscreen speaker describes as a remake of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The speaker, who's directing what's both a screen test and a parody of a screen test, introduces himself indirectly by telling us that the voice of the tester is that of Ronald Tavel, whom he also credits with the “scenario,” having identified the footage we've begun watching as “Andy Warhol: Screen Test Number Two.” Over the course of an hour, he cajoles, urges on, even verbally assaults the auditioner (Mario Montez), who displays a range of emotions as persuasive as they are iconic—the facial and vocal transformations of an ingenue for whom feelings and feigned feelings may be indistinguishable. In eliciting these responses, the offscreen speaker becomes as deeply involved in the fantasy of this deceptively simple 1965 tribute to and satire of notions of fame, fortune, and femininity as the auditioner seems to be. 70 min.

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