The General is a 1926 American silent comedy film released by United Artists. It was inspired by the Great Locomotive Chase, a true story of an event that occurred during the American Civil War. The story was adapted from the memoir The Great Locomotive Chase by William Pittenger.
When Union spies steal an engineer's beloved locomotive, he pursues it single-handedly and straight through enemy lines.
Why It Rocks
- Buster Keaton does a phenomenal performance as Johnny. His face and character is ideal for this type of comedy. He is charismatic and often ignorant of what is going on around him, leading to plenty of laughs.
- There are countless train related jokes. The first one comes right at the beginning, when we see Johnny being followed by two kids and a woman, in a line much like a train.
- The movement and maneuvering of the trains is beautiful with the stunt work being an incredible accomplishment.
- The finale is a highlight of the film. To top off an comedic over-the-top film, is with explosions and destruction.
- Co-director and star Buster insisted on using historically accurate narrow-gauge railroad tracks, which he found, along with appropriate landscapes, near the sleepy town of Cottage Grove, Oregon.
- A good number of the gags, like the box-car that keeps appearing and disappearing as it switches tracks, have a long build-up for a relatively modest payoff.
- Great stunts personally performed by Buster Keaton (also the star, director, and writer) while being set in a pre-CGI world.
- Comic logic is important to the film. In no other movie do hyperbolic slapstick gags seem so plausible and inevitable except in this one. Plus, the film has noticeably less humor than Keaton's other works, and works in the dramatic elements very well, like how the film's based on the real-life Great Locomotive Chase.
The Film (inside the public domain)