Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
USA, 1926. Buster Keaton Productions, Joseph M. Schenck Productions. Screenplay by Buster Keaton, Clyde Bruckman, adapted by Al Boasberg, Charles Henry Smith, based on the books Daring And Suffering: A History of the Great Railroad Adventure and The Great Locomotive Chase by William Pittenger. Cinematography by Bert Haines, Devereaux Jennings. Produced by Buster Keaton. Music by The Alloy Orchestra, Carl Davis, Robert Israel. Production Design by Fred Gabourie. Costume Design by J.K. Pitcarin. Film Editing by Buster Keaton, Sherman Kell.
The magnificent art of Buster Keaton is well on display in this fabulous Civil War adventure, about a meek train engine conductor who is rejected from enlistment in the Confederate army and is spurned by his lady love because of it. When the dirty Yankees come along and steal his beloved engine ‘The General’, Keaton follows the bad guys into enemy territory, avoiding all the dangerous obstacles thrown at him. He manages to rescue both the train and his beloved (who was accidentally kidnapped by the soldiers), then leads them in yet another chase back to the home front. Superbly edited, this film hasn’t aged a single day. Keaton’s brilliance threatens to be swallowed up by the mammoth set pieces, hundreds of extras and excellent effects work, but it never happens; his stone-faced, oilslick-savvy physical comedy is the shining star of the picture, one of his very best.