The General 1926

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(41) IMDb 8.3/10
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Buster Keaton co-writes, co-directs and stars in this classic action comedy from the silent era. Set during the American Civil War, the film follows southerner Johnnie Gray (Keaton) who is denied entry into the Confederate Army due to the valuable work he does as an engineer. However, his fiancée Annabelle Lee (Marion Mack) believes he has failed to sign up because of his cowardice. When Johnnie's train, The General, is stolen by Unionists with Annabelle still on board he gets the chance to prove his bravery and embarks on a hair-raising adventure.

Starring:
Buster Keaton, Joseph Keaton
Rental Formats:
DVD

Product Details

Discs
  • Feature universal
Runtime 2 hours 0 minutes
Starring Buster Keaton, Joseph Keaton, Marion Mack, Glen Cavander, Jim Farley
Director Buster Keaton, Clyde Bruckman
Genres Comedy
Studio CINEMA CLUB
Rental release 19 February 2001

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Veronique Guemise on 5 April 2005
Format: DVD
This actually came out in France last year (alongside a theatrical re-release of the restored film) and it really is an essential purchase for all Keaton fans (and all silent movie fans as well). The film has never looked better, and has been beautifully restored, and while it doesn't show Keaton at his funniest, it definitely shows him at his most inspired. The film is a classic, and feels much more modern (in how it is edited and filmed) than almost any other silent film I have seen.
While the film alone would be worth the purchase price, this disc is full of bonus features.
Buster Keaton Rides Again (a documentary about the making of the Railrodder) is actually more interesting than the film it is about, and it is great to see Keaton as himself.
The Iron Mule is an Al St John short film that features a "blink and you miss it" cameo from Keaton. This is a nice addition, and is a film most silent film fans won't have seen. And while far from funny, is a nice touch.
The Orson Welles "introduction" comes from an early 70s TV screening of the film where Welles tells (for eleven minutes) of his admiration of Keaton and this film. It is interesting and again a nice addition to an already packed disc.
Some of the features are just padding (not that any padding is needed) such as "tinted film", "restoration of the film" and "return of the general".
But without a doubt this is a five star purchase, and with a full Keaton collection promised for later this year I hope this is the first of many excellent Keaton discs.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By David A. Mcqueen on 2 Jan 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
While the General is a great film I have serious doubts about the quality of this print which lack the sharpness of many of the carefully restored masterpieces of the silent screen we have seen in recent years. I am also convinced that the speed of this particular print is too slow (and to be fair prints are usually too fast) which you can see when people are walking.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By LadyFlos on 13 Dec 2006
Format: DVD
This silent film is a joy for all lovers of the silent era and for railway fans. The escapades of Johnny (Buster) as he rescues the two loves of his life, his engine 'The General' and Miss Annabelle Lee, are comic masterpieces. The humour may be from the 20s, but it doesn't date. I have recently seen this film at a special viewing at the Alexandra Palace, and can honestly say that there was not one member of the audience who didn't leave with a smile on their face.

Buster continues to do all his own stunts, and in this film one of the simplest looking is also one of the scariest - how many of us would calmly sit on a steam locomotive's connecting rod as the train moves into the engine shed?

I would recommend this film unreservedly; a good laugh is a tonic to the system, and the NHS couldn't prescribe anything with a better guarantee to lift the spirits.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Ian Shine VINE VOICE on 29 Sep 2007
Format: DVD
Long acknowledged as `the' Keaton film - and the one that he chose to restart his career at Venice (if I remember correctly) - The General shows Keaton at his subtle, stone-faced best, although I wouldn't recommend it as the place to start discovering Keaton if you haven't done so yet. The shorts provide more of an accessible view of the quintessential Keaton as his death-defying best, performing stunts that these days - and even towards the end of his own career, when Hollywood wanted to protect his valuable name and image - are reserved as the domain of stuntmen.
He still dices with death in The General, notably when he throws one railway sleeper at another to pivot it from a railway line, while leaning backwards on the front of a moving-train (apparently with no way of preventing the train hitting the sleeper if he had missed), but this film is more notable for the way it easily maintains the viewer's attention using what is essentially a one-thread plot for over 100 minutes. Today, we've become accustomed to criss-crossing narratives and films being covered in ridiculous attention-seeking smatterings of special effects - to the detriment of the narrative - but Buster works things entirely the other way. And not just because special effects weren't at his disposal - as he shows in his short `The Cameraman', in which he pushed the moving image to places it had never been before.
Even outside the world of special effects, Keaton is much less the extrovert than his contemporaries Chaplin and Lloyd. Even though the straight-faced way he pulls off his gags is a huge part of his style, the quality of his material means that he really doesn't need to fill his films with the showboating, guff and common Laurel and Hardy style slapstick that others often relied on to pad out a film.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Weatherguesser on 28 Dec 2010
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I first saw this film in the 70s at a public viewing and it has remained ever since in my memory as an outstandingly good film that I was determined to see again. Now, over 30 years later I at last have my own copy of it, and the film has proved to be even better than I remembered. I had not realised how much this story is based on fact, which is explained so well in the 18 minute long extra 'Video Tour of The General'. The other extras are interesting too. But back to the film itself. I had read the other reviews, which raved about the quality of the image, and even after the hype, I was still astounded by just how good the picture is, even though it's over 80 years old. I sat down with my wife and teenage son and daughter, and we all loved it, set to the Carl Davis score. (I have not tried the other two scores yet.) This film is a love story, an American Civil War story, an extended train chase and a damn good yarn, all rolled into one. In fact it's hard to believe that anyone could NOT enjoy it, and in the Blu Ray version with no region restrictions, it's an absolute bargain.
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