Jacques Tati , 1909-1982; Biography from Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia: There aren't too many filmmaking legends whose entire output can be counted on the fingers of both hands, but this towering, graceful, pipe-puffing auteur, a comedic genius often compared with Buster Keaton, achieved his reputation on the basis of six feature films. His theme, his style, his mise-en-scène, all suggested the eternal struggle between Man and Machine; his was a kind of intricate slapstick in which characters found themselves at the mercy of progress, and his affinity for silent-screen comedy was mirrored in his own nearly total abstinence from dialogue (though his uses of natural sound and comic sound effects were nonpareil). Tati honed his comic skills in French music halls, eventually appearing in several short subjects in the 1930s and 1940s, some of which he also wrote and directed. In his first feature, Jour de Fete (1949), Tati played a village postman obsessed with modernizing his already-simple job. Four years later, in Mr. Hulot's Holi- day (1953), he introduced the umbrellatoting, raincoat-clad Everyman for whom nothing-even a seaside vacation-goes right. It was an international smash, and Hulot became Tati's screen alter ego for much of the remainder of his career. The film also earned Tati his first Oscar nomination-for Best Screenplay! In Mon Oncle (1958), Tati's first color film, Hulot is victimized by an automated house in which-you guessed-everything goes wrong. (It won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film.) He spent years working on Playtime (1967), shot on 70mm film, which pitted Hulot and a group of tourists against the high-tech vagaries of modern Paris, with an extended climax at the opening of a chi-chi restaurant where-that's right-everything goes wrong. Critics hailed it a masterpiece, but it was not a financial success, and a devastated Tati only made two more (small) films before retiring: Traffic (1972), with Hulot traveling to a modern auto show, and Parade (1974), a quasi-documentary showcasing French cabaret acts, with Tati recreating some of his old music-hall routines. He also made a gag cameo appearance as Hulot in Truffaut's Stolen Kisses (1968). Not unlike Keaton, Tati was totally devoted to his comic muse, and suffered when he moved too far ahead of his audience. It's lamentable that he left behind so few films, but any five minutes of any of them is sufficient to restore his spirit.