In a small French village, a travelling fair arrives and sets up in the main square. Francois (Tati), the bumbling local postman, helps oversee some men who are struggling to put up a flagpole, and seems slightly bewildered by all the hubbub. After watching a film about American postal efficiency, and after imbibing a few too many drinks at the village bar, Francois seeks to expedite his daily route.
Tati’s first feature as a director lays the groundwork for his masterpieces to come (“M. Hulot’s Holiday,” “Mon Oncle”), but stands alone as an antic mosaic of whimsical gags and physical nimbleness. Using his gangly, awkward frame for comedy, Tati relies on sight and sound rather than dialogue, illustrated (for instance) by Francois’s drunken attempts to master his wayward bicycle. A lovely portrait of postwar, rural life and a light-hearted attack on American modernization, this is an essential introduction to the work of the great French cineaste.