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Salvage with a Smile

Description of film

A serious appeal in a light-hearted way to housewives to save paper, bones and metal which can ‘provide the raw material for tanks, battleships, guns…' The film takes the form of a discussion between a professor, his housemaid, the local dustman and a local volunteer worker. They discuss how to save and salvage rubbish and what the recycled rubbish is used for. They also talk about the best way to package and prepare the waste for collection.


At the time of this film Britain and her Empire allies were standing alone against Nazi Germany. One of the greatest threats to Britain was the German ‘U’ boat. These submarines were sinking ships bringing in vital supplies. Re-using as many materials as possible would save space in ships for supplies, weapons and equipment.

Interesting or important points about the film

The film contains a wealth of interesting and useful details. To begin with, we learn which materials were saved and how they were used. At the same time, there is a strong propaganda theme running through this film. First of all, there is the message to people to salvage waste. There is also a speech by the professor in the film about how Britain is an intelligent democracy and so people should know why they are being asked to save waste. The fact that a professor is used to explain this suggests that we should trust the value of this information. Finally, the film puts forward the notion that the war effort has blurred class divisions as everybody is treated equally.

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Further information
Sub categoryWorld War Two
FilmSalvage with a Smile
SourceCrown Copyright
ProducerSponsor: Ministry of Information for the Ministry of Agriculture Production: Ealing Studios
Date21 October 1940