A crowd of holidaymakers rush from platform to platform as an announcer unintelligibly intones. A 1920s jalopy chugs it's way through French villages, swerving out the way of modern cars trying to pass. Even a sleeping dog can't be bothered to move out of the road. Monsieur Hulot (Jacques Tati) is going on holiday.
We are gradually introduced to the other holidaymakers - an attractive girl Martine (Nathalie Pascaud), an old couple forever strolling, an army type, a businessman, a Mario Fabrizi look-a-like and the guests at the beach hotel. Hulot's arrival is announced with backfires and he seems to be a disruptive influence. The visual gags start and you are in for a great treat. There is no plot or story, it's simply a collection scenes played out by characters over the course of a fun-filled vacation.
Many of the jokes are hopelessly contrived. The canoe that snaps in half to become an unconvincing, snapping shark. The car tyre inner tube that becomes a wreath at a funeral. The ridiculous tennis serve. Trying to put out the fireworks... The very things that inspired so many comedies. Tati spends a lot of time running from predicaments unlike later films. A great scene is where Hulot is waiting to go horse riding and sets about inspecting and straightening pictures whilst knocking them crooked with the riding crop. Much of the humour is the character himself, which is instantly recognisable. Tall, prancing with half-mast trousers, striped socks, hat, pipe and hands on hips stance. He's a bit of a hit with Martine, but no summer romance alas.
Hulot is still at Saint-Marc-sur-Mer, overlooking the beach in the form of a bronze statue. A bit like Eric Morecambe at Morecambe. The cool, jazzy music by Alain Romans plays over much of the film and gives it a carefree atmosphere that goes with those long, hot summer days of the past that stretched into infinity. You'll be humming it.