blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

The School for Postmen (1947, Jacques Tati)

There’s a lot of physical humor in The School for Postmen. Not falling down or stumbling or whatnot, but Tati setting up elaborate physical action–for example, a bicycle getting away from its rider, who gives chase.

Tati plays the rider, a provincial postman, who shortcuts the bicycling postmen’s rules. Some of these shortcuts are ingenious, some are stupid. He suffers accordingly. But the joke’s never on him. The supporting cast are, by and large, uncaring and unobservant. Tati never judges, but it’s clear the postman isn’t selfish, regardless of being a goofball.

The short has a nice, fast open, starting with a training session, followed by the postman’s initial, ingenious shortcut. But the mail delivery scene starts to drag and the bike getting off on its own rights the pacing.

Some of the inventive direction is deceptively skillful; other times it’s obvious Tati’s masterful.

Postmen is great filmmaking.

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