Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Buñuel/Zachary Scott mss., 1956-1967, consist of papers relating to a proposed film adaptation of Malcolm Lowry's semi-autobiographical novel Under the Volcano (1947), to have been directed by Luis Buñuel and to have starred Zachary Scott.

Regarded as the "father of cinematic Surrealism," Luis Buñuel (1900-1983) was born in Calanda, Spain and attended college at the University of Madrid. At Madrid, he befriended the painter Salvador Dalí and the poet Federico García Lorca. In 1929, Buñuel and Dalí co-wrote the groundbreaking Surrealist short film Un Chien Andalou, which also marked Buñuel's directorial debut. Buñuel went on to direct several internationally acclaimed motion pictures, including L'Age d'Or (1930), The Young and the Damned (1950), The Exterminating Angel (1962), Diary of a Chambermaid (1964), Belle de Jour (1967), and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972).

Zachary Scott (1914-1965) was an American actor who became typecast as villains or enigmatic characters over the course of his career. The Southerner (1945), Mildred Pierce (1945), The Unfaithful (1947), Ruthless (1948), Flamingo Road (1949), Shadow on the Wall (1950), Appointment in Honduras (1955), and Natchez Trace (1960) are among his film credits. Scott also starred in one of Luis Buñuel's first English-language films, The Young One (1960), and was preparing for the most significant role of his career: Geoffrey Firmin, the protagonist of Under the Volcano, an alcoholic British consul living his final days in 1939 Mexico. (A letter from Buñuel in the collection reads: "Please tell Zachary that the Volcano has to be made with him as the Consul or it will not be me.") In 1965, before production began, Scott died suddenly of a brain tumor at the age of 51. Lowry's novel would undergo several attempts by various filmmakers to reach the screen until John Huston's adaptation in 1984. Huston's film, also titled Under the Volcano, starred Albert Finney in the role intended for Zachary Scott.

Included in the collection are correspondence, script treatments, newspaper clippings, and a contract. Correspondents include: Luis Buñuel; his son, Juan Luis Buñuel; Zachary Scott; and Scott's wife, the actress Ruth Ford.

An inventory is available.

Acquired: 2011

Collection size: 40 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.