#33 The General (1926)

Do you know what Buster Keaton’s favorite film of his is? The General. This film is hailed as one of the greatest comedies ever made that stays true to its history and comedic gags. It’s an action/adventure comedy about a train engineer who gets rejected by the army during the Civil War but must have the woman he loves when she’s a prisoner on a train captured by disguised Union spies.

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Here’s Buster Keaton again with his slapstick gags and death-defying stunts. You can argue all you want that his co-star is Marion Mack (Annabelle Lee) or Glen Cavender (Union Captain Anderson) or Jim Farley (General Thatcher). But his real co-star would be his train, The General. As you know already, trains always play a big role in his films. I would take a close look at these trains when you watch Buster Keaton’s films. You don’t see them look like that anymore. A train being stolen by Union spies is something that really did happen in 1848 but as Keaton’s well-known style is turning a tragedy into something funny, that’s just what he did by adding an unlikely hero in all of his awkwardness. Buster Keaton’s message should inspire everyone that anyone can be a hero.

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Witness the most expensive shot in silent film history! How much do you think that would costed? It is pretty epic how that scene was shot and I would find it challenging to be able to make that shot look perfect. Can you believe when it was first shot, people thought it was real? The shocked looks you see from the townspeople and Union soldiers were real because they had no idea that was going to happen. That’s one way to get the onscreen reactions you want! I know this was Buster Keaton’s favorite film and every other critic who loves comedy but this was not my personal favorite. I probably would have agreed with the critics when this first came out as it got poor reviews and a poor box office but you know what happens with certain films from this time- they get more appreciated as time moves on and everyone is either not alive or too old to tell the tale. Just joking, by the way!

Watch Buster Keaton’s favorite film and write in your reactions:

 

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