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The General [Silent] [1926]

Director:Buster Keaton
Clyde Bruckman
Writer:Buster Keaton
Clyde Bruckman
Length:107 minutes
(1 hour 47 minutes)
MPAA Rating:UR
Sorting Category:Family
IMDB Rating:8.3/10
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Synopsis: An engineer, denied service in the confederate army, becomes a war hero when he heads out to rescue his "general".

Reaction: A bit slow in the pacing, but there are a number of funny moments in this little gem.

Personal Rating: 7/10

Buster Keaton => Director / Writer / Johnny Gray
Clyde Bruckman => Director / Writer
Charles Henry Smith => Annabelle's Father (as Charles Smith)
Elgin Lessley => Union General Who Gives Command to Cross Bridge (uncredited)
Frank Barnes => Annabelle's Brother
Frederick Vroom => A Southern General
Glen Cavender => Captain Anderson
Jim Farley => General Thatcher
Marion Mack => Annabelle Lee

Random Trivia For This Title:

  • This and Steamboat Bill, Jr. were Buster Keaton's last great films. Shortly after these film were made, the independent-minded Keaton made the mistake of signing a contract with MGM, whose regimented ways clashed with his scrupulous perfectionism. Five years after MGM hired him, it dropped his contract and Keaton drifted into obscurity.
  • {Premiere} voted this movie as one of {The 50 Greatest Comedies Of All Time} in 2006.
  • In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #18 Greatest Movie of All Time. It was the first inclusion of this film on the list.
  • The scene in which The Texas crashes through the bridge was the single most expensive shot of the entire silent movie era. The Texas itself remained in the river until WWII, when it was salvaged for scrap iron.
  • Florida State University commissioned composer [?] Jeff Beal to write a brand-new soundtrack for this silent film. It was premiered by the University Philharmonia along with the original film playing just above the orchestra.
  • In the scenes with the opposing armies marching, Keaton had the extras (which included Oregon National Guard troops) wear the uniforms of the Confederacy and march in one direction past the camera, then he had them change uniforms to the Union blue and had them march past the camera in the other direction.
  • In the scene where Johnnie and Annabelle refill the water reservoir of the train, Marion Mack said in an interview many years later that she had no idea that she was supposed to get drenched. Buster Keaton had not told her what was supposed to happen, so the shock you see is genuine.
  • The final battle scene sparked a small forest fire around the river. Buster Keaton, his crew, and the extras stopped filming to fight the fire.
  • Buster Keaton always said that this was his favorite movie.
  • The first try at getting the cannonball to shoot out of the cannon into the cab caused the ball to shoot with too much force. To cause the cannonball to shoot into the cab of the engine correctly, Keaton had to count out the grains of gunpowder with tweezers.