Yoyo (1965, Pierre Etaix)

Another great one by Etaix. The first section, set in 1925, has no spoken dialogue (and for the first 20 minutes, not even an intertitle). Pierre is super-rich, super-bored, lounging in his mansion pining after a lost love. He finds her (and their clown son) at a traveling circus, which finally moves on without him.

A few years later, “the talkies were born” and the stock market crashed. With a wrecked, empty house and no servants left, he contemplates suicide but opts to run off in search of his family instead.

“Ten happy years passed, and Yoyo the little acrobat became the famous Yoyo the Clown.”

Mouseover to see what happened next:

Post-war, Yoyo (now played by Etaix) returns to renovate the family mansion.

An utter triumph, with all the sentiment, sight-gags and circus-love of Chaplin and Tati.