Tati, Jacques

Tati, Jacques zhäk tätēˈ [key], 1907–82, French film writer, director, and actor, b. Jacques Tatischeff. As a semiprofessional rugby player, he entertained his teammates with physical, nonverbal comedy, developing a series of mimes that he then performed in cabarets in London and Paris. He began appearing in short films and, after World War II, he and Fred Orain founded Cady Films (1946), which produced his first feature films, including Jour de Fête (1949, The Big Day), featuring an inept village postman, and Les Vacances de M Hulot (1953, Mr. Hulot's Holiday), which introduced the socially inept and physically awkward M Hulot. He subsequently left Cady Films and started Spectra Films in 1956. His first color film Mon Oncle (1958, My Uncle; Academy Award, best foreign film) featured M Hulot struggling with postwar modernism and consumerism as he tries to build a relationship with his young nephew. Playtime (1967) surrounds M Hulot with a group of American tourists as they try to make sense of life in a sterile, futuristic Paris suburb. The film, which took nine years to complete, eventually led to Spectra Films' liquidation (1974). The Dutch-funded Traffic (1971), has M Hulot as a goofy automobile inventor who takes a gadget-filled camper to an auto show. His last feature, Parade (1974), filmed for Swedish television, is essentially a circus performance with Tati as master of ceremonies.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Film and Television: Biographies