Signed California Department of Employment ID Card

Hollywood: California Department of Employment, 1945. Identification Card for Luis Bunuel, issued on November 26, 1945 by United States Employment Service, California Department of Employment. Signed and annotated with Social Security number by Bunuel in holograph ink on recto, continuing on the verso with Name, Address, Year of Birth, Sex, Height, Work for which you qualify and Code Number, also in holograph ink. Verso date stamped 6 times dated between November 26, 1945 and August 8, 1946.

In 1944 Bunuel was living in Los Angeles with is wife Jeanne and their two sons, working on contract to Warner Brothers as a Spanish dubbing producer. The dubbing contract ended in 1945, and Bunuel, having no desire to renew, decided "to realize my life's ambition . . . : to do nothing." The Employment ID appears to confirm he wasn't steadily employed for the 9 months from November 1945 to August 1946. The ID is stamped November of 1945, again 2 months later in January 1946 and every month thereafter through April and a final, later stamp of August 1946.

Under the "Work for which you qualify" field of the ID, Bunuel has stated, "Director." He hadn't made a film at this point for 14 years, however, and was not being embraced by Hollywood. In the intermediary period he had been producing low-budget commercial films in Spain in an attempt to build a cinema industry (which collapsed as the country descended into the Spanish Civil War).

Bunuel also briefly worked at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1942 on various film projects, but was compelled to resign, largely because his previous collaborator, Salvador Dali, released his autobiography "The Secret Life of Salvador Dali" and outed Bunuel as a Communist and atheist.

By 1945 Bunuel met and was spending much of his time with writer Aldous Huxley and sculpture Alexander Calder (from whom he rented a house) in Antelope Valley in northern Los Angeles. It was also at this time, Bunuel wrote in his autobiography "Mon Dernier soupir", he submitted a treatment of a disembodied hand scene for the film "The Beast with Five Fingers" at the request of the director Robert Florey. Bunuel later stated that the scene was shot and used without acknowledgment or payment--though some film scholars have challenged this claim.

It wasn't until late 1946 that Bunuel would move to Mexico and with the help of producer Oscar Dancigers, make his first full length feature, "Gran Casino," a musical drama without any of the themes or tropes that might be associated with Bunuel's films. It was not a successful film and there would be a two year gap before he directed another film, it was however his entry into the Mexican film industry which would begin his career as a director.

Tan card stock, 5 x 3.75 inches (12.5 x 9.5 cm). Near Fine.


[Book #146022]

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