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4.5 out of 5 stars
Jour De Fete [1949] [DVD]
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66 of 67 people found the following review helpful
on 20 February 2005
Tati's first feature has been overshadowed by the marvellous films that followed it, (particularly "M. Hulot's holiday") but this little masterpiece deserves to be seen. The pace is slow and the action mostly lugubrious but it is worth giving yourself time for the little details to work their magic. The droll story links a series of priceless set pieces that had me crying with laughter. How can a drunken postman making his way home on a bicycle be so funny? This is visual humour that is both refined and brilliantly funny and there is something wonderfully uplifting and humane in the tone of the film. As so often with Tati, the children seem much more socially adroit than the adults but all the characters are vivid and convincing. Tati beautifully captures a rural French postwar past that was fast disappearing even as he made the film. Hilarious, but much more than just funny.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 1 July 2001
A precursor of Monsieur Hulot, with the same gentle humour and from a time when most of Britain and America thought that Abbot and Costello films were comic masterpieces. The postman has appeared several times but, after more than fifty years is still funny and even broad farce (riding off a bridge)has an extra something thanks to Tati. There is, of course, the recurring problem with things mechanical, in this case a bicycle and, again, Tati inhabits his own little world where he moves at a different pace, oblivious to the chaos he causes but, you are never left in any doubt as to which is better world. This is not a film solely for those who like France. It is, instead, an introduction to the art of a timeless genius.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on 14 February 2005
Compared to the brilliant Les Vacances de M. Hulot this film is somewhat uneven; the film occasionally slows down to almost a complete stop. The story is told in a few lines: fuelled by a spectacular movie about mail-distribution in America he's seen on a travelling fair, the postman (Tati) decides to modernize his way of delivering his cards and letters.
The gags are classic slapstick (think Chaplin and Keaton). The colour-version only heightens the rural, easy-going atmosphere.
If you want to go on holiday to the French provence for just about 90 minutes; this is the way!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 22 August 2008
Tati's first feature film (he has made some shorts before) from 1949 is about an inept bicycle riding postman (Tati himself, of course) trying to adopt more efficient ways of delivering mail in a quaint French rural village, after watching a documentary of the American postal system. One must say first that the gags here are not as good or as funny as in Tati's later films (especially Mr. Hulot's Holiday and Mon Oncle). Still, this is worth seeing, especially in its color version (Tati was disappointed with its primitive color system, so he finally decided to release the film on black and white; the color version of the film was restored and released to the public many years later, after Tati's death). What is more striking of the movie when one sees it now is to look, even in a color that leaves much to be desired, at a rural France that no longer exists.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
The adventures of a postman in a sleepy little French village who tries to speed up his deliveries after watching an American training movie. Even funnier than M Hulot's Holiday, in my opinion, and a perfect example of the very best visual humour - innocent, breathtakingly original and beautifully timed. I've loved it for years, and now my five year old son thinks it's really cool! This film might persuade him that Europe has more to offer than just the language.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 26 March 2009
Jacques Tati plays Francois, the village postman, stung into an effort to bring the postal service into the 2oth century and speed up his delivery methods. A village fair proves the stimulus - it's nothing more exotic than a roundabout and a couple of stalls, but in one tent there's a film about the modern American postal service ... and comparison with Francois' bike, banter, and bucolic blundering are inevitable. We get every visual gag you could imagine involving a bicycle and a postman. Francois makes Cliff from 'Cheers' look sober and taciturn. The postman is a respected man - his advice is regularly sought on practical problems ... like hoisting a flagpole - but nobody places much stock in the chances of the mail arriving on time, if at all.

Filmed in 1948, Tati used a colour process which proved impossible to transfer to print at the time, so the original release was in black and white (Tati used two cameras, shooting in b&w as a back-up in case the colour failed). The colour version was finally transferred to print in 1995, and it's the colour version I watched. Colour is quite subdued, quite bleached compared to modern processes, but it adds to the atmosphere, conjuring up a bygone era and imparting a contemporary but vintage dynamic to the film.

Shot so soon after the end of the Second World War, the film makes no allusions to this, other than a quick dig at the American army ... and that briefly as part of the main thread of the film which satirises the Americanisation of attitudes and its absorption into French culture. The satire is of the French themselves, not America.

Tati is a comedy genius, on a par with Keaton and Chaplin - he deserves to be far better known in the English-speaking world. Comparisons with the silent era are inevitable: 'Jour de Fete' does employ dialogue, but most of the comedy is visual - sound effects are employed to enhance the visual. Tati was a very funny man, and his films abound in gentle, and sometimes not so gentle, digs at pretension and human vanities. An extremely funny and delightful film which has aged well, losing none of its humour, charm, or wit.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 26 February 2002
This has to be the second funiest film ever, behind Mr Hulots Holiday! Has many classic moments. In particular the lamp post scene! Good music too!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 16 June 2009
I have the other more popular Jacques Tati films, so thought I'd buy this to add to the collection.
I must admit, I watched it amongst chaos, with kids running in and out, so it didnt get my full attention....
However, although I feel the film isnt quite as good as the others, I still found it enjoyable to watch, and quite humerous as you would expect. As with all of these films, you do need to watch everything and everyone!
If you are a Jacques Tati fan, make sure you get round to buying this for your collection too.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 1 July 2009
Jacques Tati's first outing although filmed in black & white film stock, a second colour camera was used as well, this in 1949. The result excellent. Story line a bit repetitive with frantic scenes of how to operate a US postal system in a sleepy French village.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 November 2010
This is an absolute JOY !! You must see it and sit back and enjoy with no preconceptions, whatsoever. It is a wonderfully simple, but clever film about life in a small french village on the day of the fete, which is so full of charm and wit that I just keep watching it over and over again. Immerse yourself in the world of Jaques Tati and realise that life is wonderfully enjoyable if you care to stop and enjoy the little things. It's great.
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