Australian Screen

Australia’s audiovisual heritage online

Commonwealth Bank – Willie Wombat: Waste Not Want Not (c.1939)

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clip Willie's song education content clip 1

This clip chosen to be G

Clip description

Willie lounges and plays while the other animals, showing foresight, collect and deposit food (or in the case of the dog, signposts) in the bank.

Curator’s notes

In this clip, Willie Wombat sings his ‘I’m Willie the Wombat’ song, espousing that ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’. Because of the film’s age, the technical quality of the audio track is not great. But it’s still possible to appreciate the film’s songs (by Lance Watkinson) and music (by John Kay) – very much of their time and obviously written to please the youthful audience the film was trying to reach. Recording and sound post-production were done at Supreme Sound.

Teacher’s notes

provided by The Le@rning FederationEducation Services Australia

This clip shows part of an animated film from about 1939, sponsored by the Commonwealth Bank, that promotes school banking to schoolchildren using a version of the traditional story ‘The ant and the grasshopper’. Willy Wombat sings that he wants to play instead of save. Other Australian native animals including a koala, a kookaburra and a kangaroo save their food, ready to deposit it in the bank for winter’s hard times. Handpainted animation is used as well as a three-dimensional model of a bank. A possum teller receives the food deposits of a kangaroo and joey.

Educational value points

  • The animated film from which this clip comes was made to promote the Commonwealth Bank’s School Banking program and encourage the habit of saving among primary school children. Schools accepted students’ cash deposits, recorded in their passbooks, and the Bank charged no fees. School banking programs had been introduced into every state by 1928.
  • This clip is a rare early example of Australian animated film, made at a time when the US productions of Warner Brothers and Walt Disney Studios dominated animation. In 1912 Harry Julius produced the first notable Australian animated film but Australia could not support the cost of animated film production on the same scale as the Hollywood film industry. Eric Porter Studios, which produced this clip, grew by making propaganda films in the Second World War.
  • The message that saving is an important protection against hard times reflects values that prevailed in Australia in the 1930s and 40s. The Great Depression, a worldwide economic disaster that started in 1929 and lasted until the Second World War, had caused mass unemployment and widespread hardship. In these circumstances money was scarce and frugal attitudes to saving and expenditure had become common.
  • The animation techniques used in the clip are cel animation and the filming of three-dimensional models. The animals were drawn and handpainted on a series of transparent acetate sheets or cels (short for celluloid), each one slightly different to depict movement. These were then filmed one at a time onto motion picture film against a painted background. A miniature model of the bank was also constructed and filmed.
  • The influence of the work of Disney Studios’ animated films is very apparent in this Australian animation. Willy Wombat’s song with its orchestral accompaniment is similar in style to songs in works such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and Pinocchio (1939).
  • This was the first film of Eric Porter (1911–83), an important pioneer in the Australian film industry. He wanted to develop an Australian equivalent of Disney Studios and established Eric Porter Studios to produce animated films. These included Bertie the Aeroplane (1942) which was, like much of their work, a commercial. Porter produced Marco Polo Junior versus the Red Dragon (1971), Australia’s first animated feature film, and was recognised by the AFI in 1982.

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australianscreen is produced by the National Film and Sound Archive. By using the website you agree to comply with the terms and conditions described elsewhere on this site. The NFSA may amend the 'Conditions of Use’ from time to time without notice.

All materials on the site, including but not limited to text, video clips, audio clips, designs, logos, illustrations and still images, are protected by the Copyright Laws of Australia and international conventions.

When you access australianscreen you agree that:

  • You may retrieve materials for information only.
  • You may download materials for your personal use or for non-commercial educational purposes, but you must not publish them elsewhere or redistribute clips in any way.
  • The National Film and Sound Archive’s permission must be sought to amend any information in the materials, unless otherwise stated in notices throughout the Site.

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ANY UNAUTHORISED USE OF MATERIAL ON THIS SITE MAY RESULT IN CIVIL AND CRIMINAL LIABILITY.

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