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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 #154 | 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Buster Keaton ... Johnnie Gray
Marion Mack ... Annabelle Lee
Glen Cavender ... Captain Anderson
Jim Farley ... General Thatcher
Frederick Vroom Frederick Vroom ... A Southern General
Charles Henry Smith Charles Henry Smith ... Annabelle's Father (as Charles Smith)
Frank Barnes Frank Barnes ... Annabelle's Brother
Joe Keaton ... Union General
Mike Donlin ... Union General
Tom Nawn 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 February 1927 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

The Engine Driver See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

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

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

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

Sound Mix:

Silent

Color:

Black and White (Sepiatone)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The failure of the original copyright holder to renew the film's copyright resulted in it falling into public domain, meaning that virtually anyone could duplicate and sell a VHS/DVD copy of the film. Therefore, many of the versions of this film available on the market are either severely (and usually badly) edited and/or of extremely poor quality, having been duped from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the film. See more »

Goofs

The General and Texas are seen numbered 3 and 5, respectively. At the time the film is set, the engines of the Western and Atlantic were only known by their names, as were the General and the Texas. The railroads in the Confederacy did not begin numbering their engines until after the war. At that time, the General and Texas were numbered 39 and 49, respectively. The General did not receive the number 3 until the 1880s, and the Texas was renumbered 12 in 1880, then 212 in 1890, and never received the number 5. 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 Silent Clowns: Buster Keaton (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Frühlingsstimmen (op. 410)
Written by Johann Strauss
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
It is more appreciated now than when it was released
27 March 2017 | by calvinnmeSee all my reviews

This film flopped when it was released in late 1926 for several reasons. First, its premiere was delayed because "Flesh and the Devil" was such a sensation that it was held over an extra couple of weeks. Second, people came to the movies to see Buster Keaton the comedian, not Buster the filmmaker and director, which is more of the role he played here. The film was funny, but it was not gag after gag, like so many of Keaton's other films. Keaton plays a railroad engineer living in the South. A title card declares he has two loves - his girl and his engine. when the Civil War starts he tries to enlist, but is considered too valuable to be in the Army due to his profession. His girlfriend misunderstands, thinks him a coward, and says she won't speak to him again until he is in uniform.

Meanwhile, the Union forces have developed a plan to crush the South that involves stealing Buster's train. Unknown to Buster, his girlfriend is on the train at the time of the theft. Buster starts out in hot pursuit of the thieves to retrieve his train, still without the knowledge of his girl's captivity by the Union army.

Forgotten with the arrival of sound, the film revived - often cut up from its original length - in the 1950's because Buster didn't preserve his rights to the film and it fell into the public domain. That is the reason there are so many versions of The General out there today, often with poor video and hideous musical accompaniment.

Today The General is considered one of the best silent feature length films, and one of the few silent films to not only be on DVD but to get the Blu Ray treatment too. SHERLOCK, JR. is clever. OUR HOSPITALITY is hilarious. The General is both of these things. It's story driven, races to a climax, and is fueled by cute, clever, inventive gags.Buster recycled these gags when he was a writer for MGM years later in "A Southern Yankee".


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