This film is part of Free

Willie Does His Stuff

White elephant Willie becomes a volunteer collector for the National Savings scheme in this Technicolor animation

Advert 1948 4 mins


Willie is a white elephant, the star of a National Savings scheme poster exhorting the message "If you don't need it - don't buy it!" This film brings him to life, and he steps down from the wall to become a volunteer collector – one so successful that naughty children even put down their cigarettes to follow him. This charming animation is filled with winning touches, such as Willie turning himself into a film projector with a cranking tail.

Listen to the singing children at the end of the film and you can detect an accent in their English. The film was produced in Bern, Switzerland by a German pioneer of animated advertising, Julius Pinschewer. A short black and white film looking at the production process titled Willie Comes to Life also survives, revealing that British animator Harold Mack was part of the production team. This government film is a public record, preserved and presented by the BFI National Archive on behalf of The National Archives, home to more than 1,000 years of British history.