General, The

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General, The


English   Country: USA   Year: 1927

General, The


Clyde Bruckman


Marion Mack; Charles Henry Smity; Richard Allen; Buster Keaton




Civil War film. The General is a locomotive, and Buster Keaton is its engineer. Union soliders steal the locomotive, and Buster is on the chase--not knowing that his girl friend is being held captive aboard The General. Black & White. Silent.


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User Reviews


(Average=4.86 out of 5; Total Number=7)

Awesome Visual Quality And Music! (rating=5)

While the Kino releases of these and other Buster Keaton films are entertaining, this release has the advantage of (1) being taken from excellent prints of the movies, and (2) the music (non-intrusively) complementing the story. In The General the music has a simple chugging quality, and changes tempo with the speed of the trains, while in Steamboat Bill it imitates the windstorm. It's a great effect - the music, while not a "soundtrack," onomatopoeietically (?) does what the musicians in the original theaters likely did - it helps bring out the excitement in the story.

You Don't Even Feel Like Watching A Silent Movie (rating=5)

Great cinematography and action for one of the most impressive early comedies. Roger Ebert calls the Alloy Orchestra "the best in the world at accompanying silent film". The orchestra provides the perfect background for this film so that I didn't even miss the dialogue. After all, 90%+ of the movie is action.

Deserves Its Reputation: A Masterwork. (rating=4)

The General

Buster Keaton's love of history, engineering and operatic displays of action are put to their finest use in his masterwork, The General. However unwelcoming the concept of an incredibly accurate historical movie about the civil war may seem, or a title which refers to an army rank, rest assured that The General is imbued throughout with a wonderful sense of fun, as with all Keaton. The pervasive irony running through The General is the fact that little Buster is helping fight the civil war just by happenstance - all he really wants to do is save his girlfriend. The appeal of The General may lie in its ability to take you back to what it would have been like in frontier America, its remarkable visual beauty (incredible cinematography), or possibly Keaton's trademark operatic stunts, the climax of this movie which is one of his most impressive (the famous bridge scene was the most expensive shot in all of silent cinema).

But the thing which makes this and all Keaton films a joy to watch is the irrepressible charm and appeal of his onscreen persona. You just can't help liking little Buster, and rooting for him in all the troubles he happens to fall into. 5 stars from me - one of the all time greats.

This DVD is a great buy, b.c you get Steamboat Bill Jr also - one of Buster's best features, which sees his little character at his most charming, trying to woo the daughter of his father's rival steamboat captain. The effectiveness of the storm scene at the end are alone worth the price of entry - you'll be surprised.


Buster Keaton's career reached its creative apex with the rousing comic adventureThe General. Not merely one of the finest silent films, this remains one of the great film comedies of all time. The Great Stone Face stars as Southern railroad engineer Johnny Gray, a man with only two loves: the sweet Annabelle Lee (Marion Mack) and his trustworthy engine, the eponymous General. When Fort Sumner is fired upon he's one of the first to enlist, but when the war office rejects him (he's too valuable as a trained engineer) his sweetie rejects him as a coward. Johnny has the opportunity to prove his bravery when Yankee spies steal his engine and inadvertently kidnap Annabelle, and Johnny pursues with all the resources at his disposal: handcar, bicycle, and finally railroad engine. Keaton's love/hate relationship with technology and machinery shines as he becomes one with his beloved locomotive and wrestles with a finicky cannon that threatens to blow his engine off the tracks; with tremendous dexterity, he nails the humor with inimitably deadpan takes. Spunky Marion Mack makes a perfect partner for Keaton, not merely a foil but a gifted comedienne in her own right. Other Keaton films contain more laughs and inspired comic stunts, but none combines romance, adventure, and comedy into a solid story as seamlessly as this silent masterpiece.--Sean Axmaker

InSteamboat Bill Jr., Keaton stars in the story of a college-educated young man who comes home to help his father work on his Mississippi River steamboat and immediately demonstrates just what a landlubber he is. What's worse, the woman he falls for is the daughter of his father's worst rival, a bullying rich guy who wants to drive Buster's boat out of business. Keaton's slapstick is inspired and precise, particularly during an amazing sequence in which he tries to walk across town during a tornado. Watch in amazement as the front of a building falls on Keaton and he walks away without a scratch.--Marshall Fine