Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Dustbin Parade (1942)


Main image of Dustbin Parade (1942)
35mm, 5 min, black & white
Production CompanyHalas & Batchelor
 Realist Film Unit
SponsorMinistry of Information
AnimationHalas & Batchelor
MusicE.H. Meyer

Animated characters explain the need to salvage scrap metal, rags and bones.

Show full synopsis

This jaunty animation was one of some 70 short films commissioned by the Ministry of Information from the Halas & Batchelor studio between 1941 and 1945 and dealing with a wide range of wartime needs, from growing one's own vegetables to guarding against enemy spies.

Dustbin Parade is an artful combination of animation, striking music and witty dialogue, all deployed with a lightness of touch that disguises the very particular practical challenges faced by the filmmakers: notably the wartime shortages of film stock, pencils and paper.

Partners John Halas and Joy Batchelor engagingly combine characters inspired by American cartoons and a style reminiscent of Eastern Europe - the latter a likely result of Halas's Hungarian upbringing and his training under former Bauhaus tutors such as Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. The shadowy street, dramatic music, and yowling cat of the opening, meanwhile, establish an atmosphere reminiscent of contemporary Hollywood film noir. This provides a strong hook to grab and hold the audience - important in a short film that would have been shown as support to the main feature rather than on its own.

There is a neat analogy in which a collection point for scrap materials becomes a 'Recruiting Centre'. The anthropomorphism extends to the different types of scrap having speaking roles, with a bone taking the leading part, and demanding "We want to be a shell." The film succeeds as both a morale booster and an encouragement to recycle - a key element of the war effort.

Ros Cranston

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
Complete film (5:13)
Salvage with a Smile (1940)
Halas, John (1912-1995) and Batchelor, Joy (1914-1991)