Jean Yatove

Keep Your Left Up (1936, René Clément)

Keep Your Left Up is a genial little short set in a small French country town. The arrival of the postman sets off the short, which eventually has local do-nothing Jacques Tati in the ring against boxer Louis Robur.

The charm comes mostly from the setting, Clément’s excellent composition and Jean Yatove’s oddly mismatched score. Left doesn’t have any ambient sound when the music plays; just Yatove’s music and the occasional line of dialogue or sound effect gives the short a detached quality. But detached in a charming way (it’s hard to fault anything technical with the film–Clément’s composition would make up for anything).

Tati’s appealing as the lead, but he doesn’t have much to do. He handles the physical comedy fine, though a lot of it seems to be through the editing.

Only real problem? The continuity gaffes. They’re distracting. Otherwise, Left amuses all the way through.



Directed by Réne Clément; written by Jean-Marie Huard; music by Jean Yatove; produced by Fred Orain.

Starring Jacques Tati (Roger), Max Martel (Postman), Louis Robur (Boxer), Jean Aurel (Kid), Champel (Manager) and Van der Haegen (Sparring Partner).

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.

3/3Highly Recommended


Written and directed by Jacques Tati; director of photography, Louis Félix; edited by Marcel Morreau; music by Jean Yatove; produced by Fred Orain; released by Cady Films.

Starring Jacques Tati (Postman) and Paul Demange (Chief Postman).

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