The General

Watch The General

"Buster drives "The General" to trainload of laughter."
  • Passed
  • 1926
  • 1 hr 15 min
  • 8.1  (97,934)

The General is a 1926 silent film directed by Buster Keaton and Clyde Bruckman, and starred Buster Keaton, Marion Mack, and Glen Cavender. Considered as one of the greatest comedies ever made, it is a brilliant amalgam of slapstick, romance, and action which was inspired by the Great Locomotive Chase, an event during the American Civil War. The film is renowned for its dramatic chase scenes, extensive use of real steam locomotives, and the death-defying stunts performed by Keaton himself.

The story is set in the Deep South during the American Civil War, and the central character is Johnnie Gray (played by Buster Keaton), a train engineer who has two great loves in his life - his fiancée Annabelle Lee (Marion Mack) and his locomotive engine, "The General." Johnnie is rejected by Annabelle when he attempts to enlist in the Confederate Army, due to his role as a train engineer being seen as a safer option. Shortly after, Union spies steal "The General," and with Annabelle on board, head off towards Chattanooga. Johnnie, with love and loyalty driving him, takes it upon himself to rescue both the train and his beloved.

As Johnnie chases after the stolen locomotive, The General becomes the main character in the film. The train, one of the last remaining trains of its kind at the time, becomes the epicenter of the narrative. The film shows the difficulties and technicalities of operating the train and showcasing Keaton's brilliant command over the locomotive that brings an entire steam-powered world to life on the screen.

The movie is famous for its monumental chase scenes, which combine humor, suspense, and technical wizardry in a way that has never been matched, let alone surpassed. The scenes showing Keaton racing through different terrains, jumping tracks, hiding, and escaping from his antagonist's capture, demonstrate his superb penmanship as a filmmaker. From the train speeding down the tracks or the villagers litting up the road, the chase scenes are perfectly choreographed with flawless timing and planning, making them awe-inspiring to watch even now, several decades after their creation.

The humor in the film is subtle and witty, ranging from Keaton's deadpan looks and self-deprecating humor. Keaton's physical comedy is also on full display, and it is marvelous to watch the precision of his movements and the dexterity of his reflexes. The absurd situations, such as Keaton trying to carry cannonballs to the fight while the enemy chases him, had audiences laughing out loud.

The film's production design is also noteworthy. The General features excellent period detail and production design, which transports the audience to the American South during the Civil War. Keaton and his production team take great care in ensuring that every costume, set, and artifact in the film is authentic and historically accurate, resulting in a film that is both visually impressive and realistic.

In conclusion, The General remains an influential and unique film that continues to resonate with audiences today. Buster Keaton's iconic performance as Johnnie Gray, the exciting chase sequences, superb production design, and timeless humor make this film a timeless classic of the silent era. Despite being a nearly century-old film, its influence on contemporary cinema is still evident today, particularly in the way it elevated the idea of physical comedy to uncharted territory. Anyone who loves a good laugh or appreciates quality filmmaking should watch and re-watch The General, an everlasting masterpiece that rightly belongs in the pantheon of great movies.

The General is a 1926 comedy with a runtime of 1 hour and 15 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 8.1.

The General
Where to Watch The General
The General is available to watch free on Plex, The Roku Channel Free, Tubi TV and Kanopy. It's also available to stream, download and buy on demand at Amazon Prime, Apple TV Channels, FuboTV, FlixFling, The Roku Channel, MGM+, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent The General for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 15 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    8.1  (97,934)