The Junk Shop





Production year



17 December 1965


31 min


Juraj Herz






featuretheatrical distributionmedium

Original title

Sběrné surovosti

Czech title

Sběrné surovosti

English title

The Junk Shop

English parallel title

Cruelties of Life


Before film adaptations of the works of Bohumil Hrabal became the domain of director Jiří Menzel, the legendary author inspired other members of the Czechoslovak New Wave. Perličky na dně (Pearls at the Bottom, 1965), is just one such example – an anthology in which five freshmen directors convincingly demonstrated their capabilities. Alongside Jiří Menzel, Jan Němec, Evald Schorm, Věra Chytilová and Jaromil Jireš, director Ivan Passer also made his own similarly-oriented short film, namely the Hrabal adaptation Fádní odpoledne (A Dull Afternoon, 1964), released in cinemas independently. One other similar project, which also failed to make it into 1965’s film anthology, is the half-hour Hrabal etude Sběrné surovosti (Cruelties of Life) filmed by the then rookie director Juraj Herz. The director had the opportunity of working with Hrabal to adapt the screenplay for this project. The story Baron Prášil (Baron Műnchausen, 1961) from the Pearls at the Bottom collection is transformed on screen into an unconventional, raw, surrealistic study, with its humorously morbid traits serving as a precursor to Herz’s future horror-themed films. The bizarre story takes place in a paper collection facility, dominated by its quirky paper buyer Hanťa. This talkative man serves as both the witness and initiator of countless humorous, embarrassing and even moving events. The loud chatterbox and his endless made-up stories are becoming an annoyance to his boss, the head of the collection facility, the refined Mr. Bohoušek. Hanťa’ has no compunction in liquidating some unwanted statues from a nearby church. Fortunately, his eccentricity doesn’t go so far as to want to add young rascal Pepíček to the paper press. In the spirit of New Wave experimentation, director Herz casts this film with non-actors. The performances of Václav Halama as Hanťa, and František Ketzek as the “comrade boss” help give the film a sense of realism. Hrabal’s Hanťa character would appear again in the nostalgic tragicomedy Příliš hlučná samota (Too Loud a Solitude, 1995) from director Věra Caisová. In the sleek co-production, the character is played by popular French actor Philippe Noiret.


Hanťa, the peculiar and noisy employee of a scrap-yard, likes spreading various made-up stories around his neighbourhood. In an environment in which previously recognized values are no longer worth a penny, however, absurd situations arise even without his fictions. Hanťa's friend, the verger of St Tadeáš's Church, takes down the thank you messages written by parishioners and screws them up in a different place. The head of the scrap-yard, the refined Mr Bohoušek - complains that Hanťa has once again been spreading tales about him. People come to dump old paper. Little Pepíček has put his mother's accounts, on which she has worked for two days, into the scrap. The hysterical woman alternately slaps her son and scrabbles through the huge mound of paper. An old woman is furious when they offer her just one crown for love letters from her youth. The verger sends Bohoušek discarded carved wooden statues of the saints. Hanťa persuades him first to cut them into small pieces. Bohoušek is courting the frail Miss Hermínka. Hanťa gets a bawling out from a fat elderly barwoman because he has been telling people she is pregnant. But in return for several old romantic novels the woman forgives him. Little Pepíček has got lost, and Hanťa nearly puts him through the crusher with the old paper. Evening is falling, Hanťa is showering, Bohoušek is piecing together the parts of the statues...


The film was distributed to Czech cinemas in December 1965 along with the West German feature film Secret of the Chinese Carnation. It was new premiered in June 1998 with the Slovak film The Sweet Games of Last Summer (1969) by Juraj Herz.


Václav Halama

zaměstnanec sběrny Hanťa

František Ketzek

Voice by Ivo Gübel
vedoucí sběrny Bohoušek

Bobina Maršátová

zaměstnankyně sběrny Mařenka

Libuše Palečková

zákaznice, maminka kluka Pepíčka

Jan Vlček

Voice by Ota Motyčka

Olga Novotná

zákaznice Hedvika

Růžena Vlčková

zákaznice z kina

Radim Cvrček

zákazník s koši

Karel Hadrbolec

veterinář na kontrole koček

Ivana Klíčníková

František Pelikán

Věra Pokorná

Václav Soldát

Karel Veselý

M. Cirmonová

A. Mukenšnáblová

L. Rubínová


Marie Rosůlková

hlas starší zákaznice s dopisy

Crew and creators


Juraj Herz

Second Unit Director

Květa Lehovcová

Based on

Bohumil Hrabal (Baron Prášil – povídka ze sbírky Perlička na dně)

Shooting Script

Juraj Herz

Director of Photography

Rudolf Milič

Second Unit Photography

Josef Pechar

Production Designer

Oldřich Bosák

Set Designer

Josef Calta (vedoucí výpravy)

Costume Designer

Olga Dimitrovová

Make-Up Artist

Rudolf Hammer

Sound Designer

Dobroslav Šrámek

Production Manager

Jaroslav Prokop

Unit Production Manager

Jordan Balurov


Music Composed by

Zdeněk Liška

Music Performed by

FISYO (Music Conducted by Štěpán Koníček)


Ó, sole mio

Song Composer Eduardo di Capua
Writer of Lyrics Giovanni Capurro
Singer mužský hlas

Production info

Original Title

Sběrné surovosti

Czech Title

Sběrné surovosti

English Title

The Junk Shop

English Parallel Title

Cruelties of Life




featuretheatrical distribution



Origin country




Production Year


Production specifications

literary Screenplay approved 30 March 1965
start of filming 29 April 1965
end of filming 21 May 1965
projection approval 24 August 1965


preview 10 December 1965 (kino Sevastopol /2 týdny/, Praha)
premiere 17 December 1965 /unsuitable for youths/ (celostátní)
premiere 25 December 1965 /unsuitable for youths/ (kina Lucerna /8 týdnů/, Metro /3 týdny/, Flora /1 týden od 14. 1. 1965/, Revoluce /1 týden od 21. 1. 1965/, Oko /1 týden 28. 1. 1965/, Arbes /1 týden 4. 2. 1965/ a Dukla /1 týden od 11. 2. 1965/, Praha)
renewed premiere 1 November 1990 /suitable for youths/
renewed premiere 24 January 1998 /suitable for all ages/ (Kongresové centrum, Praha)
renewed premiere 27 May 2021 /suitable for all ages without limit/

Distribution slogan

no caption (1965) / Four times about people and things around us. (1990) / Although the medium-length film Cruelities of Life is one of the most succesful adaptations of a Bohumil Hrabal book, it was not included in the film Pearls in the Depths and was not put on general release. (1998) / no caption (2021)


Ústřední půjčovna filmů (původní 1965 a obnovená 1990), Asociace českých filmových klubů (obnovená 1998 /Projekt 100 – Zima 1998/), Národní filmový archiv (obnovená 2021)

Creative Group

Tvůrčí skupina Feix – Brož, Miloš Brož (vedoucí dramaturg tvůrčí skupiny), Karel Feix (vedoucí výroby tvůrčí skupiny)

Technical info

Duration typology

medium length film

Duration in minutes

31 min

Original length in metres

866 meters

Distribution carrier

16mm, 35mm, DCP 2-D, BRD

Aspect ratio



black & white



Sound system/format




Dialogue languages


Subtitles languages

without subtitles

Opening/End credits languages