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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 laugh hit spectacular of the year. (Trade paper ad). See more »


Certificate:

Passed | 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

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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

Buster Keaton shot most of this film outdoors in Oregon because the narrow-gauge railroad tracks that could accommodate antique locomotives were still in use at the time. See more »

Goofs

They ate breakfast at Big Shanty in the morning, not dinner. 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 »

Alternate Versions

In 1995 eye American Productions released Many Masterpieces Become One, The General with music by Scott Joplin. Re-released in 2010. See more »


Soundtracks

Frühlingsstimmen (op. 410)
Written by Johann Strauss
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Wonderful Humor, Action, & Melodrama
13 July 2001 | by Snow LeopardSee all my reviews

One of the great masterpieces of cinema, Buster Keaton's "The General" combines inventive humor with terrific action and fine melodrama, all beautifully and carefully planned and photographed. It is filled with subtle and wonderful details that make it well worth devoting your full attention to watching. As an extra bonus, it offers a fascinating look at the Civil War era, with many realistic details, inspired by a historical incident.

After a short opening sequence, the movie divides nicely into two halves. Johnny (Keaton) is a railway engineer, turned down in his attempts to enlist in the Confederate Army and subsequently rejected by his girl. Continuing with the railroad, one day his locomotive is stolen by Union spies, who also kidnap his girl. Johnny first chases the engine into Union territory to recapture it, and then is himself chased by the Northern Army as he attempts to return home. Both chases are filled with excitement and manic fun, with some breathtaking stunts by Keaton thrown in. It all leads up to a dramatic and memorable climax that includes many ironic and suggestive touches.

Keaton is at his best, with the story offering him a perfect showcase for his many talents. His slapstick and acrobatic skills are given free rein, and his character's stoic perseverance is a fine complement to the frantic action.

This belongs near the top of any list of great films, a classic worth watching and re-watching.


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