THE GENERAL (1926) B/W "silent" 74m dirs: Buster Keaton, Clyde Bruckman
w/Buster Keaton, Marion Mack, Glen Cavander, Jim Farley
With his comic genius in full display, Buster plays a Confederate in the Civil War South. When his train is stolen by Northern spies, Buster infiltrates Union lines to retrieve his locomotive. The cinematography by J. Devereaux Jennings and Bert Haines recalls the work of photographer Matthew Brady and adds depth to a laugh-filled movie.
From Georges Sadoul's Dictionary of Films: "This is one of Keaton's best films. When it was re-released in 1962 it enjoyed world-wide success. It was voted one of the 'Twelve Best Comedy Films of All Time' in an international poll of critics in 1967."
From Rudi Blesch's biographical study, Keaton, published in 1971: "[The General's] rich diversity of incident --- sad, bumptious, heroic --- makes up a cinema masterpiece. Its photography can be compared with that of Mathew Brady. The swirling lines of action that had begun years before in The Paleface and Cops became a sweep of armies on the move in this picture. This is the film that, twenty-seven years after its issue, would share honors with the new Chaplin film, Limelight, in London during Elizabeth's Coronation Week. It is the only film from a long list at the Museum of Modern Art's 1955 United Artists Festival that had to be repeated. It deserves the further honor of never being retired again, of being shown anew to each generation. Its setting is timeless, and as a work of art it comes close to being a new genre: a romantic-historical period dramatic comedy. If there are opposites in that definition, Buster Keaton's film reconciles them. It is, besides, a depth study of personality.
"Buster Keaton would likely not relish being called a poet. But poetry is where you find it, and it is in The General. Time has not staled it. Time, indeed, has not yet destroyed the locomotive that plunged through the burning bridge. Rusting drive wheels and toppled boiler, she still lies where she fell, in a river near Cottage Grove, Oregon, still luring tourists to the spot."