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The General
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The General (1926) More at IMDbPro »

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The General -- When Union spies steal an engineer's beloved locomotive, he pursues it single handedly and straight through enemy lines.

Overview

User Rating:
8.3/10   37,838 votes »
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Writers:
Buster Keaton (written by) and
Clyde Bruckman (written by) ...
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for The General on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
24 February 1927 (France) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
Love, Locomotives and Laughs
Plot:
When Union spies steal an engineer's beloved locomotive, he pursues it single handedly and straight through enemy lines. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Awards:
1 win & 1 nomination See more »
User Reviews:
The Greatest War Comedy ? See more (219 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Buster Keaton ... Johnnie Gray
Marion Mack ... Annabelle Lee
Glen Cavender ... Captain Anderson
Jim Farley ... General Thatcher
Frederick Vroom ... A Southern General
Charles Henry Smith ... Annabelle's Father (as Charles Smith)
Frank Barnes ... Annabelle's Brother
Joe Keaton ... Union General
Mike Donlin ... Union General
Tom Nawn ... Union General
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Henry Baird ... Soldier (uncredited)
Joe Bricher ... Soldier (uncredited)
Jimmy Bryant ... Raider (uncredited)
Sergeant Bukowski ... Officer (uncredited)
C.C. Cruson ... Officer (uncredited)
Jack Dempster ... Raider (uncredited)
Keith Fennell ... Soldier (uncredited)
Budd Fine ... Raider (uncredited)
Eddie Foster ... Union Railroad Fireman (uncredited)
Ronald Gilstrap ... Union Soldier (uncredited)
Frank Hagney ... Confederate Recruiter (uncredited)
Ray Hanford ... Raider (uncredited)
Jack Hanlon ... Bit Part (uncredited)
Al Hanson ... Raider (uncredited)
Anthony Harvey ... Raider (uncredited)
Edward Hearn ... Union Officer (uncredited)

Boris Karloff ... Union General (uncredited) (unconfirmed)
Hilliard Karr ... Soldier (uncredited)
Elgin Lessley ... Union General Who Gives Command to Cross Bridge (uncredited)
Louis Lewyn ... Soldier (uncredited)
Jackie Lowe ... Boy Who Follows Johnny (uncredited)
Billy Lynn ... Soldier (uncredited)
Ross McCutcheon ... Raider (uncredited)
Tom Moran ... Raider (uncredited)
Charles Phillips ... Raider (uncredited)
Red Rial ... Raider (uncredited)
Al St. John ... Officer on Horseback (uncredited)
Harold Terry ... Union Soldier (uncredited)
Ray Thomas ... Raider (uncredited)
Red Thompson ... Raider (uncredited)
James Walsh ... Soldier (uncredited)
John Wilson ... Union Soldier (uncredited)
Jean Woodward ... Undetermined Role (uncredited)
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Directed by
Clyde Bruckman 
Buster Keaton 
 
Writing credits
Buster Keaton (written by) and
Clyde Bruckman (written by)

Al Boasberg (adapted by) and
Charles Henry Smith (adapted by) (as Charles Smith)

William Pittenger  book "Daring and Suffering: a History of the Great Railroad Adventure" (uncredited)
William Pittenger  memoir "The Great Locomotive Chase" (uncredited)
Paul Girard Smith  uncredited

Produced by
David Shepard .... video producer (2003 alternate version)
Buster Keaton .... producer (uncredited)
Joseph M. Schenck .... executive producer (uncredited)
Joseph M. Schenck .... producer (uncredited)
 
Original Music by
The Alloy Orchestra (2003 alternate version)
Carl Davis (1987)
Robert Israel (1995 New Score)
Joe Hisaishi (uncredited)
 
Cinematography by
Bert Haines (photographed by)
Devereaux Jennings (photographed by) (as Dev Jennings)
 
Film Editing by
Buster Keaton (uncredited)
Sherman Kell (uncredited)
 
Art Direction by
Fred Gabourie (uncredited)
 
Set Decoration by
Harry Roselotte (uncredited)
 
Makeup Department
Bennie Hubbel .... assistant makeup artist (uncredited)
J.K. Pitcarin .... makeup artist (uncredited)
Fred Carlton Ryle .... makeup artist (uncredited)
 
Production Management
Lou Anger .... production supervisor (uncredited)
Fred Gabourie .... production manager (uncredited)
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Harry Barnes .... first assistant director (uncredited)
Glen Cavender .... second unit director (uncredited)
Edward Hearn .... assistant director: Oregon (uncredited)
 
Art Department
Frank Barnes .... construction foreman (uncredited)
Jack Coyle .... carpenter (uncredited)
William Ernshaw .... bridge timber crew (uncredited)
Al Gilmour .... production buyer (uncredited)
Mike Graves .... assistant property master (uncredited)
Bert Jackson .... property master (uncredited)
H.L. Jennings .... bridge and dam construction (uncredited)
George E. Potter .... bridge timber contractor (uncredited)
Billy Wood .... chief draughtsman (uncredited)
 
Special Effects by
Jack Little .... special effects (uncredited)
 
Stunts
Buster Keaton .... stunts (uncredited)
Earl Mohan .... stunt double: Tom Moran (uncredited)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Denver Harmon .... lighting effects
Frank Barnes .... grip (uncredited)
Dal Clawson .... still photographer (uncredited)
Elmer Ellsworth .... camera operator (uncredited)
Denver Harmon .... chief lighting technician (uncredited)
Byron Houck .... camera operator (uncredited)
Byron Houck .... still photographer (uncredited)
Ed Levy .... assistant chief lighting technician (uncredited)
William Piltz .... still photographer (uncredited)
Melbourne Spurr .... publicity photographer (uncredited)
Harry J. Wild .... assistant camera (uncredited)
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Bennie Hubbel .... assistant wardrobe (uncredited)
J.K. Pitcarin .... wardrobe (uncredited)
Fred Carlton Ryle .... assistant wardrobe (uncredited)
 
Editorial Department
Harry Barnes .... assistant editor (uncredited)
Sherman Kell .... assistant editor (uncredited)
 
Music Department
Robert Israel .... music arranger: 1995 alternate version
Robert Israel .... music director: 1995 alternate version
Hiroyuki Akita .... music engineer: Joe Hisaishi score (uncredited)
James C. Bradford .... music compiler (uncredited)
Suminobu Hamada .... Joe Hisaishi Score (uncredited)
Suminobu Hamada .... music engineer (uncredited)
Suminobu Hamada .... music mixer (uncredited)
Joe Hisaishi .... Joe Hisaishi Score (uncredited)
Joe Hisaishi .... conductor (uncredited)
Joe Hisaishi .... music arranger (uncredited)
Joe Hisaishi .... music producer (uncredited)
Joe Hisaishi .... musician (uncredited)
Joe Hisaishi .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Scott Joplin .... composer: additional music (uncredited)
Ikuko Okamoto .... Joe Hisaishi Score (uncredited)
Ikuko Okamoto .... music production manager (uncredited)
William P. Perry .... composer: new piano score (uncredited)
Nic Raine .... orchestrator: Carl Davis score (uncredited)
 
Other crew
Fred Gabourie .... technical director
Joseph M. Schenck .... presenter
Lou Anger .... production accountant: Los Angeles (uncredited)
Dr. Axley .... first aid (uncredited)
Harry Brand .... production coordinator (uncredited)
Harry Brand .... unit publicist (uncredited)
Betty Cavender .... production secretary (uncredited)
Glen Cavender .... technical advisor (uncredited)
John W. Considine Jr. .... assistant production coordinator (uncredited)
Jack Dempster .... engineer (uncredited)
Christine Francis .... script supervisor (uncredited)
Dr. Frost .... first aid (uncredited)
Wesley G. Gilmour .... production accountant: Oregon (uncredited)
L.L. Graham .... production assistant: Oregon (uncredited)
Bob Holmes .... production assistant: Oregon (uncredited)
Bert Jackson .... location manager (uncredited)
Ralph Land .... chef (uncredited)
Fred A. Lowry .... brakeman (uncredited)
George E. Potter .... caterer (uncredited)
Viola Riddle .... cook: Mr. Keaton (uncredited)
Willie Riddle .... assistant: Mr. Keaton (uncredited)
Dee Wright .... wrangler (uncredited)
Fred Wright .... chief mechanic (uncredited)
Fred Wright .... fire fighter (uncredited)
 
Crew verified as complete


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Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
Australia:107 min | Spain:80 min (1982 version) | Spain:83 min (1962 version) | USA:75 min (2003 alternate version) | 78 min (24 fps)
Country:
Language:
Color:
Black and White (Sepiatone)
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Certification:
Australia:G | Finland:S | Norway:7 (original rating) | Norway:A (re-rating) (2004) | Portugal:M/6 (DVD rating) | Portugal:17 (director's cut) | South Korea:All (2002) | Sweden:Btl | UK:U | USA:Unrated | USA:TV-G (TV rating) | West Germany:6

Did You Know?

Trivia:
For the scenes with the opposing armies marching, Buster Keaton had the extras (which included Oregon National Guard troops) wear the gray uniforms of the Confederacy and march in one direction past the camera, then he had them change uniforms to the Union blues and had them march past the camera in the other direction.See more »
Goofs:
Anachronisms: The pistol Johnnie uses near the end of the film to arrest the Yankee officer in the cab of the General is a Colt revolver from the 1870s.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 »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in A Southern Yankee (1948)See more »

FAQ

Why do distributors add music to silent films?
How much did the train crash cost?
Why do the two little boys follow Johnnie Gray around?
See more »
23 out of 25 people found the following review useful.
The Greatest War Comedy ?, 27 May 2006
Author: theowinthrop from United States

It is "generally" (or should I pun and say "General Lee"?) said that the best comedy of the silent film career of Buster Keaton's career was his Civil War epic THE GENERAL. Apparently planned with more care than any of his other film projects, it involved not only researching a period of history some sixty years in the past, but getting the correct rolling stock, costumes, weapons, and props to make it look correct. And it worked so well that Keaton never really could (despite some great moments in STEAMBOAT BILL JR.) out-do it. In fact, the closest thing to his best sound film (or film that he influenced that was a sound film) was his work with Red Skelton in the comedy A SOUTHERN YANKEE, where he returned to a Civil War theme.

THE GENERAL (as I mentioned in discussing the Disney film THE GREAT LOCOMOTIVE CHASE) is based on the "Andrews Raiders" stealing of the Confederate locomotive "The General", and an attached train, which was used to damage tracks and bridges. The raid (in February 1862) was from northern Georgia into Tennesee. It only lasted 20 miles, as the coal for the train was used up and not replaced. Andrews and several raiders were hanged after a trial. Others went to southern prisoner of war camps. The effect of the incident far outstripped it's military success. The damage (after all) could be repaired. But like Jimmy Doolittle's Raid over Tokyo in April 1942, it had a tremendous effect hurting Confederate morale. The area attacked was hundreds of miles from the battlefronts of Virginia or Kentucky/Northern Tennessee that were in the current events of the War at the time, and so was considered safe by the Confederate government and public. Instead it had been shown quite easy for Northern raiders to hit and run for awhile.

Despite it being a brief incident of the war, the locomotive chase would remain famous after more important events were forgotten. The actual locomotive is still in existence in a museum in the south. When Lesney did it famous series of "Models of Yesteryear" the first locomotive that was included in that series of collectible toys was "The General".

The story, however, was ultimately a downer. But Keaton took the basic tale and made it a comedy of the period. First he changes the viewer's perspective - it is not concentrating on Andrews and his men, but on the Confederates. Secondly, he builds up the story of Johnny Gray, a railroad engineer who tries to enlist but is rejected (the twist of logic failure in the script is that the Confederate draft board head does not bother to explain to Johnny that he is more useful as an engineer to the cause than as a soldier). Because Keaton's family and girl friend (Marion Mack) see he is not enlisted, they believe he turned coward.

Johnny eventually is the only person who tries to retake "the General" from the raiders, and the film has actually two chases in it - first Andrews and his men stealing the train, and then Keaton sneaking into Northern lines with Mack and retaking it.

Along the way are many comic classic moments, such as Keaton carefully standing on the cowcatcher and carefully using physics to knock off broken wooden ties that might derail the train, or when (at a moment of dejection) Keaton sits on the connecting rod that links the trains wheels and finds himself pulled into the locomotive barn while in a sitting positions. The situation of fighting the Yankees during the second chase, and finding Marion Mack there "helping" him, are wonderful - especially when she judges which lumps of coal are pretty enough to be used to keep the engine fired (she throws away the ugly little ones). Keaton's reaction to her stupidity is a wonderful moment.

The classic conclusion of the comedy is the battle of the two sides at the river, and the burning of the railroad bridge (with it's destruction of a second locomotive). It has been called the most expensive sight gag in history. By the way, the Northern General who ordered the locomotive across the bridge is of some special interest. He was Mike "Turkey Strut" Donlin, a frequent member (and starring player) of the old New York Giants under John McGraw and Christy Matthewson in the first two decades of the 20th Century. Donlin (who got his funny nickname from the way he ran the bases) left baseball to become a film actor (he had worked a bit in vaudeville). Keaton was a sports fan (and showed this in his film COLLEGE, where he shows his abilities in several sports) and hired Donlin. This was the latter's most famous performance - look at his reaction to the collapse.

It must be regarded as Keaton's finest film, and certainly the best war comedy to come out in the silent period. It may also be the best war comedy to come out of any period of motion pictures.

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