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The General (1926)

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When Union spies steal an engineer's beloved locomotive, he pursues it single-handedly and straight through enemy lines.
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Top Rated Movies #153 | 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
...
Frederick Vroom ...
Charles Henry Smith ...
Annabelle's Father (as Charles Smith)
Frank Barnes ...
...
Union General
...
Union General
Tom Nawn ...
Union General
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Storyline

Johnnie loves his train ("The General") and Annabelle Lee. When the Civil War begins he is turned down for service because he's more valuable as an engineer. Annabelle thinks it's because he's a coward. Union spies capture The General with Annabelle on board. Johnnie must rescue both his loves. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The tale of a lad, a lass and a locomotive. (Trade paper ad). See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

24 February 1927 (France)  »

Also Known As:

The Engine Driver  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$750,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (1982) | (1962) | (2003 alternate) |

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Sepiatone)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Buster Keaton wanted to use the real locomotive "The General", which was at the Nashville, Chattanooga, and St Louis Union Depot in Chattanooga, TN. The railroad initially permitted him to do so, even providing him with a branch line to film on. However, when it became known that the film was to be a comedy, the railroad withdrew permission and Keaton had to look elsewhere. See more »

Goofs

When Johnnie gets switched on the siding, and reverses back onto the mainline, his locomotive slides a fair distance after the drivers stop, indicating that the rails have been heavily greased to prepare for the wheel slip scene following it. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Annabelle's brother: Fort Sumter has been fired upon.
Mr. Lee: Then the war is here.
Annabelle's brother: Yes, dad, and I'm going to be one of the first to enlist.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The 100 Greatest Films (2001) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
An instant favorite
27 January 2008 | by See all my reviews

I haven't had so much fun watching a movie for a long time. The General is a silent comedy (mostly slapstick) about Johnny Gray, a train engineer with two loves: his engine and Annabelle Lee. Annabelle soon dumps him because of his failure to enlist into the Civil War (they would not take him because he was too valuable as an engineer). Things are then sped up a year, where we see some Union commanders planning to hijack a train to unleash a highly sophisticated master plan. As it so happens, they steal Johnny's engine, a big mistake.

Buster Keaton does a phenomenal performance as Johnny. His face and character is ideal for this type of comedy. He reminds me a lot of Leslie Nielsen from the Naked Gun movies (but, of course, less old). He is often ignorant of what is going on around him, leading to plenty of laughs. This also makes him a very charismatic character.

There are countless train related jokes. The first one comes right at the beginning, when we see Johnny being followed by two kids and a woman, in a line much like a train. The bulk of the movie is made up of Johnny running a train, either chasing or fleeing from the Union soldiers. The movement and maneuvering of the trains is beautiful. The stunt work is an incredible accomplishment. The finale is explosive.

The General was a lot of fun to watch. It gave me more laughs than most modern comedies, and had plenty of substance on top of that. This is enough for me to label it as one of the greatest comedies ever. After my first viewing, it instantly became one of my favorites. It is timeless gem that should be watched at least once by anyone interested in movies.


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