The Big Day (Jour De Fete)

1952

The Big Day (Jour De Fete) (1952)

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Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

In Jacques Tati's charming -- and essentially plotless -- pre-Hulot first feature, Tati is Francois, a contented and happy postman in a small, unhurried French village. Francois is at ease with his job and leisurely performs his duties, peddling away on his rounds upon his beloved bicycle. Things perk up when a traveling carnival arrives in town. One of the attractions at the carnival is a film depicting the United States Postal Service's fast and efficient postal delivery system. The narrator in the film exhorts, "Rapidite, rapidite." Francois takes up the call, and attempts to Americanize his work style. Intriguingly, Tati originally shot this film in two simultaneous processes - a black-and-white one and an experimental color one called 'Thomson-Color' - but was forced to release the black-and-white when he ran into problems printing the color film; he subsequently tinted select sequences, then in the late 1990s his daughter (a film editor) prepared and released a color version of the entire movie. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi

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Cast

Jacques Tati
as Francois
Santa Relli
as Roger's wife
Maine Vallee
as Jeanette
Jacques Beauvais
as The coffee-house keeper
Beauvais
as Cafe Proprietor
Delcassan
as Cinema Operator
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Critic Reviews for The Big Day (Jour De Fete)

All Critics (19) | Top Critics (1)

The director observes life from a distance and lets the viewer discover the humor within the frame instead of pointing it out to them. This approach gives Tati's films their gentle, unassuming quality.

Aug 28, 2018 | Full Review…

Jour de Fête marks a spectacularly well fashioned introduction to Tati's old-fashioned and playful sense of humour.

Aug 13, 2018 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Wistful coziness and meticulous experimentation already comprise the captivating aesthetic in Tati's feature debut

Jun 22, 2015 | Full Review…

a genial, ambling comedy that uses the figure of a klutzy postman named François (played by Tati himself) as the centerpoint for a series of comedic episodes involving a small French village preparing for a big festival

Nov 4, 2014 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Jour De Fête sees Tati building out the world around François, finding humor in the leisurely pace of country living.

Nov 3, 2014 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Tati's feature debut is a brilliant, smart, timeless comedy, which immediately established his reputation as major director and auteur.

Jul 8, 2012 | Rating: A | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Big Day (Jour De Fete)

½

This was a different kind of comedy, I'm not sure how to describe it, really. Problem was, it's not very funny. It was sort of quirky in a very old fashioned kind of way. It felt a lot older than it was even.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

½

Comedy legend Jacques Tati directs, co-writes and stars in this charming look at a guileless postman bicycling his rounds in a small French village. The film is near plotless, unless you count a late section where Tati's character Francois sees a newsreel about American postal efficiency and strains to accelerate his own work in reply. (This final act is wholly recycled from Tati's 1947 short "School for Postmen.") The laughs depend on sight gags, lightly presented but carefully choreographed, and Francois doesn't speak much. When he does, he adopts a self-involved, thinking-out-loud mutter that barely calls for a response. Chickens, who cackle throughout the film with perverse consistency, arguably have more lines than any human. Francois's bike -- which frequently gets away from him -- accounts for a large chunk of the humor and the rest revolves around his interaction with the playful townsfolk, who alternately cheer on his diligence or try to throw him off course. (Learn to say no to alcohol, Francois!) The lack of story is somewhat wearying, but the film's brisk 79 minutes pass before this becomes a serious problem. "Jour de Fete" was simultaneously shot in both color and black-and-white, and the latter version was the standard for years. However, a restored color edit was finally released in 1995. Given the subtlety of the film's visual humor, it's possible that some jokes are easier to pick up in color. So, don't worry about the ethics of "colorization."

Eric Broome
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

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