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The General (1926)

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1:03 | Trailer
When Union spies steal an engineer's beloved locomotive, he pursues it single-handedly and straight through enemy lines.
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Top Rated Movies #192 | 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Marion Mack ... Annabelle Lee
Glen Cavender ... Captain Anderson
Jim Farley ... General Thatcher
Frederick Vroom Frederick Vroom ... A Southern General
Charles Henry Smith Charles Henry Smith ... Her Father (as Charles Smith)
Frank Barnes Frank Barnes ... Her Brother
Joe Keaton ... Union General
Mike Donlin ... Union General
Tom Nawn Tom Nawn ... Union General
Buster Keaton ... Johnnie Gray
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Storyline

Johnnie loves his train ("The General") and Annabelle Lee. When the Civil War begins he is turned down for service because he's more valuable as an engineer. Annabelle thinks it's because he's a coward. Union spies capture The General with Annabelle on board. Johnnie must rescue both his loves. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The tale of a lad, a lass and a locomotive. (Trade paper ad). See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

2 January 1927 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Engine Driver See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$750,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (1982) | (1962) | (2003 alternate) |

Sound Mix:

Silent

Color:

Black and White (Sepiatone)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

There were three locomotives used in the film: one as "The General", one as "The Texas" and one for a spare. The spare engine had been originally intended to play The Texas, but the engine that ultimately got that role was found to be in better condition. The spare engine played the role of the Union engine up to the bridge scene, where it played The Texas as it crossed the bridge. See more »

Goofs

They ate breakfast at Big Shanty in the morning, not dinner. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Her Brother: Fort Sumter has been fired upon.
Her Father: Then the war is here.
Her Brother: Yes, Dad, and I'm going to be one of the first to enlist.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Although Buster Keaton is the star of this film, he is listed last in the on-screen credits. See more »

Alternate Versions

Also shown in a tinted version. See more »

Connections

Featured in Fractured Flickers: Anna Maria Alberghetti (1963) See more »

Soundtracks

The General
Written by William P. Perry
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
The Genius of Buster Keaton
17 April 2001 | by MadReviewerSee all my reviews

Probably Buster Keaton's best film, and oddly enough, it's not even a straightforward comedy – it's actually an action film, with clever doses of romance and comedy tossed in for good measure. `The General', which is set during the Civil War, is about a train engineer named Johnny Gray (Buster Keaton, of course) who tries to enlist in the Confederate Army . . . and is turned down because the army feels he'd be much more valuable for the war effort as an engineer instead of a soldier. However, through a series of misunderstandings, both Johnny's family and his girl think he's a coward, and they refuse to speak to him until he becomes a soldier. Months pass, and Johnny, sad and alone, is piloting his train – the General – when it is stolen from him by the North. Johnny's efforts to recover the General – and to win back his girl's love – become an unbelievably funny and action-packed series of events, as Johnny tries to go from being a sad-sack buffoon to being a hero.

If you haven't watched many silent films, they demand a greater amount of attention than `normal' film – there are no audio cues; and volumes can be spoken with a simple facial expression. Buster Keaton is amazingly expressive, as he's fully capable of going from wildly happy to downtrodden and sad in the blink of an eye. While funny, Keaton is much more than just a clownish figure – he manages to evoke a lot of sympathy as well, and he genuinely becomes what can only be described as an action hero as well. His timing, whether for a joke or for a tender moment, is absolutely impeccable.

What's also great about `The General' is the sheer amount of stunts and physical humor – a movie like this couldn't be made today. No amount of insurance would cover it. Keaton does all his own stunts, and manages to perform a number of feats that are simultaneously hilarious and dangerous – he chases down `The General' with a bike, he sits on a moving cattlecatcher, knocking away railroad ties with a tie of his own. All these stunts are fantastic, but it's scary to think that any one of these probably could've killed Keaton if something even went slightly wrong.

`The General' is a lot more than slapstick. Personally, I think it's one of the first films to push the envelope of movies – it goes for action, romance, and humor, and it pulls all of those elements together into a terrific movie. If you've never seen Buster Keaton – or, for that matter, a silent film – go find this one and watch it. It's a classic. A+


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