Film: 8183

Social History | 1950 | Sound | Colour


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This is a public information film about the importance of re-using resources, specifically wool, which explains the process of wool recycling and underlines its uses, early environmental issue, with a constant narration. It shows a stereotypical idealised 1950's American household bookending the plot.

Main titles. Close-up of hands doing embroidery or sewing a sampler with the words "Waste Not" on it. We see a 12-year-old girl sitting next to a lamp in a sitting room with a bookcase behind her. See continues as we see more of the lounge, with more lamps and green walls, a typical 1950's utility room; a young boy enters, carrying a large, flat cardboard box, with their mother, Mrs. Jefferson Thorne, who comes in and takes off her coat and hat, greeting the girl with a kiss; the boy also takes off his coat behind her, then Mrs. Thorne takes her purse out of her handbag. The children are opening the parcel brought in by the boy, which contains a woollen winter coat or snowsuit. Mrs. Thorne goes over to the children and sits with them on the sofa. Together they look at and admire it - close up of the snow-suit. Mrs. Thorne begins to dress the boy, Roger, who is slightly younger than Mary, his sister, in the snow suit. Close-up of Mary as she watches her mum put the suit on Roger. The snowsuit is in two parts with a top coat and dungarees style trousers; close-up of Mrs. Thorne as she finishes putting on Roger's trousers and starts with the coat. Wide shot as she begins to button it up the middle. Back to the close-up as she goes on. Close-up of her hand as she feels the cuff. Roger marches around in his new suit - everyone looks happy with it. Mrs. Thorne and Mary smile at Roger and the coat. Roger stops and holds up the the label hanging from the sleeve. Mrs. Thorne beckons him over. Close-up of her as she takes it off the cuff button. Mary watches. The three get up and Mrs. Thorne walks across the room, putting the tag down on a small desk. Close-up of two labels, one saying: " All reprocessed wool ", the other saying " 35% wool, 65% reused wool ", and both of them advising laundering by a reputable cleaner.

Mrs. Thorne opens a wardrobe and takes out an old woollen patterned skirt; Mary approaches and her mother holds it against her to check the size, then they both examine it and find a hole, so Mary takes it. Close-up on the top of a small table with a worn brown jacket lying on it; Mary lays the skirt down on top , then Mrs. Thorne adds an old red sweater and then a child's white and maroon coat to the pile. We see Mrs. Thorne folding an old brown pair of trousers, adding them to the pile and then tying it together. Title card: "The Salvation Army , Social Service Centre". Another one: "Don't throw anything away, give jobs and training to the handicapped ". Three more follow: " Salvage Bureau , paper , clothing , rags " (the latter two circled in red), " American Rescue Workers will be pleased to call for your old clothing ..." etc, and " Waste into Wages ".

A materials collector is leaving a fairly large, white, middle-class house with a prim fence gate and neatly trimmed hedges; he carries a bulky tied up parcel down the garden path, through the gate and to an open-back truck, rather full of other packages and old clothes and big stacks of paper, parked on the road outside; he picks up a couple of other parcels from beside the lorry and and dumps them all into the open back. He then gets up onto the back and rearranges the various packages a bit before jumping down again. He gets into the cab and drives off.

Cut to a sorting room where two men in hats and white overalls are standing at a table with piles of thrown out clothes they are sorting through. One man takes a red shirt and chucks it onto a pile behind him. He then picks up a pair of brown trousers stained with white paint. He hurls them into a large bin of old rags behind him. After doing a bit more of this, he finds Mary's skirt which we saw earlier. He puts this into a different bin. We now see the contents of a large cart with a load of these clothes on it; a few more garments are thrown on, then a man in a hat and checked shirt starts to wheel it away.

Now a large red lorry drives along carrying a huge load of neat packages. The truck is now in a factory or warehouse where the stacks of parcels, made up of ragged clothes, are being unloaded with a forklift. We now see a few men in white caps and overall type uniforms sorting through colossal piles of clothes in the warehouse space. Close-up of one metal bin - a few garments are tossed in on top of the rags already in there; pan around a few other similar containers with various bits of cloth being thrown in accordingly. A middle aged man in an old jumper, surrounded by many clothes-bins, stands in front of a long table piled high with old garments which he goes through, throwing each one into one drum container or other. Close-up of a few bins whose contents are sorted by colour - one of whites, one of reds and so on. Now back to the wide of the men in white sorting through the massive piles of clothes. One man tears the pockets out from the inside of some trousers. Pan across a few very large, fenced around sections of clothes sorted by colour; we reach a man stuffing all the cloth from one section into a large bin. A man in dungarees now uses a huge machine to pack a big bundle of clothes tightly together.

Now, a more smartly dressed man operates a sawing type of machine to cut a long piece of cloth into shape. A large drum container behind him is full of off-cuts - he throws another off cut in. Another man is doing the same. Again we see the bin full of off cuts behind him which is then dragged away. Another two men are sorting through a large pile of these bits of rag, binning each one accordingly. As before a large open-back lorry delivers a load neatly stacked packages of these.

A colossal pile of these rags have a chemical poured over them. A huge handful of them is picked up and put on a slow conveyor-belt. We see another pile of old used rags. They are also being loaded one by one onto a conveyor which leads into a factory machine. We see the ragged cloth being torn apart into its original fibres inside the machine. The end result is a bundle of " wool stock ". Pan across a massive pile of sacks, each containing wool stock of a different colour; a man approaches and starts to pull some out of one sack. Fade out.

Fade in on a freshly shawn sheep fleece being unfolded on a desk top. Various exemplary samples of different types of wool are unpacked from a black box with a certificate of standards pasted inside the lid. Close-up of one sample, next to which is placed two labels: " 100% virgin wool " and " 100% wool ". Close-up of another sample with the same 100% Wool tag. We see four more samples labelled the same. Now we see various others again tagged the same. And now more still, same again. Now we see a large tangled ball of fibres, once again labelled 100% wool. Finally, a pile of knitting with the same label yet again, bu this time the tag is picked up and held close to camera. Fade out.

Fade in on another label: " Re-processed Wool ", which is removed to reveal a further sample; pan across to a pile of rag strips. Close-up of tag: " Re-used wool ", again removed to show a sample, then pan across to another bundle of rags. Now we see a Reused Wool sample; Reprocessed wool sample appears next to it, then a 100% wool sample appears next to that. Closeup of sheets of chequered material followed by pan up to a line of woollen clothes hanging on a rail - pan down to fabric again. Now we see a mixing machine in a factory which is being fed piles of wool stock by two men. The machine pulls in the stock. Another machine is being fed red dyed wool-stock. Inside the contraption the fibres go between a pair of big rollers. We see them working, with another smaller and faster roller between. We see it from the other side. Now the fibres emerge from the machine in separate strands. We each strand go onto more large rollers. Another machine spins the strands into yarn which is spooled onto spinning bobbins. Then another machine weaves it into a tartan style patterned cloth. We look closer at the weaving. The fabric then goes through a cleaning machine where it is drenched in soap solution and dragged through more smaller rollers. The material is then pulled quite fast into another contraption to be shrunk. Closeup of a fairly rapid roller applying heat and pressure to the cloth. Back to the previous shot of the fabric being hauled in. Strips of material are now pulled through another roller and wet with hot soapy water. The fabric strips are pulled in. A massive sheet of woollen cloth now rolls in and out of a chemical bath. A man in overalls come and opens the heavy metal door of an industrial dryer where the material is moving around rollers once more; having checked it, the man closes the door and leaves. Close-up of a huge sheet being folded and piled. We see a machine is doing this. Another machine similar to the washer pulls strips of cloth through and drenches them in a chemical solution. The fabric goes in. The colossal sheet runs through a series of drying rollers. The material si pressed. It is then rolled out with no creases. Close-up of the sheet being folded into a pile as before. Laboratory testing: we see four test tube type constructions with a different coloured chemical in each. Another machine pumps away at a small piece of the finished cloth, checking its strength. The pistons work away at it.

A bunch of children are playing on swings wearing their woollen coats. A boy scales a climbing frame. A group of kids play on the swings with bare trees in the background - it seems like January or February in a fairly upmarket suburban neighbourhood. A middle-aged man with a hat, glasses and a thick wool coat walks up to his car proudly. A younger man with a cap, which he seems chuffed with, approaches us. Three young women stand around chatting in their woollen gloves, hats and scarves. A small group of girls, around twelve, play skipping in their woollen coats. Cut to a couple of blankets on display; a U.S. army blanket is laid out on top of them. A coat draped over a chair has its inner lining displayed to us. Pan from a few wool slabs (used for the inside of shoe soles) to neatly cut wool squares, one of whose corners is lifted and a lit match held to - but it fails to ignite. Close-up of fine woollen garments hanging in a tidy line on a rail. Wider shot of the same. And another wider shot. Fade out.

We now see our old friend Mrs. Thorne in the kitchen of her idyllic middle class American home, who puts a plate of a half eaten roast chicken on the white table, then takes the meat off the plate and puts it into a red flowery see-thru plastic bag. Close-up of the table, now witha cloth on it set for dinner, where Mrs. Thorne puts down a casserole dish and removes the lid to reveal a steaming hot meal ready to be served. She is now sitting in a comfy chair in the lounge (where we were before), gently feeling a quilt that is draped over her lap. Close-up of her hand, which has bright red poilsh on the nails, lovingly rubbing her patterned patchwork quilt. We see her face looking down at it, affectionately but thoughtfully, with Mary's completed sewing work hanging framed on the wall behind her, now reading " Waste Not Want Not ". Mary dashes over to her mother, who gets up folds the quilt with her daughter's help; as they finish and Mrs. Thorne puts it back on the chair, her husband enters with their son Roger tagging along behind - he is a tall, dark-haired and handsome man with a moustache, the model fifties American citizen; he wears a woollen coat and carries a hat and another long woollen coat which he helps his wife to put on before kissing her cheek, handing her the hat and leading his happy family out, leaving the Waste Not Want Not embroidered sign prominent in front of us. Close-up on it. Fade out. End title.

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