Sunday, June 26, 2011

32. The General

The General
1926 or 1927 (there seems to be some dispute over this)

Wow.  This "wow" is not directed at the movie itself but at the reaction it received.  At first it was a total flop but now critics consider it to be the greatest comedy of all time!   AFI ranked it at #18.  #18!  I mean, do you realize how many movies that means it beat?!?  We are talking Titanic, The Godfather: Part II, Rear Window, even Sunrise!  And quite frankly, I don't see what the fuss is about.

Now, if you have read my earlier reviews, you know that I am an avid Buster Keaton fan (and if you haven't welcome!  I hope I am making a good first impression!).  So I am not hating on this movie so much as praising his other movies.  Sure this one has a nice plot and some pretty funny gags, but it I feel that it doesn't quite have what the others had.  It isn't as daring as Our Hospitality, or as funny as Sherlock Jr. was.

This film is about a Southern man who can't get into the army for the Civil War.  His girlfriend is a total bitch about it and says that she won't see him unless he is in uniform.  His other great love, his train, (I don't blame him; she doesn't exactly sound like a peach) gets taken by those damn Yankees with his girlfriend inside it!  He then spends the rest of the movie pursuing it.

This movie is definitely funny and there are a few good stunts.  I would be interested to have a discussion with someone who ranked this movie so high, however.  Why is it so special?!?

RATING: ***--(I feel pressure to give it more stars!!!)

Interesting Facts:

In typical Keaton style, this movie is pretty short (an hour and fifteen minutes).

Buster Keaton said it was his favorite too!  Probably because it is all about trains; he seems to have a huge obsession with them.

This movie was AFI's #18 in 2007.  Before that, it had never made it on the list.  That is one fast leap.  Gone With the Wind has been taking it slow and steady but this one just zoomed ahead!

The scene where The Texas crashes through the bridge is the most expensive shot in the silent film era.

Available on YouTube.  First part:


  1. Probably it is all those trains. There are a lot of trains and if you like trains a lot then you would definitely get a kick out of this.
    I also prefer his other movies.

  2. Glad that someone else thought that it wasn't as good as his other films (his other films on the list, anyway). Also, he's starting to look too old to play that innocent young man role any more.

    1. Yeah it's like Jimmy Stewart in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.