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1001 Movies Club - General, The (1927)

#35. The General (1927)


Why It's In The Book: "None [of Keaton's films] is as strong a contender to the title of the greatest comedy ever made as this timeless masterpiece. It isn't merely the constant stream of great gags, not the way they derive wholly from situations and character rather than existing in isolation from the film's drama. Rather, what makes The General so extraordinary is that it is superlative on every level: in terms of its humour, suspense, historical reconstruction, character study, visual beauty, and technical precision. One might even argue that it comes as a close to flawless pefection as any feature ever made, comic or otherwise... This elegant symmetrical story line is both formally pleasing and the source of suspense and gags; but the voyage also lends the film an epic tone which, combined with Keaton's constomarily meticulous historical detail, transforms it into perhaps the finest Civil War movie ever made. Then, finally, there is Buster's Johnny: unsmiling yet beautiful in his brave, faintly ridiculous determination - the epitome of this serio-comic masterpiece, and as deeply human a hero as the cinema has given us." -1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

Member Ratings

Adolytsi - 10/10
"The General has my vote as the greatest comedy ever made."

bpdreview - 10/10
"Appreciation for Buster Keaton's genius will continue for as long as at least one copy of The General exists. If Chaplin is the Beethoven of cinema, then Keaton is Bach."

Michaël Parent - 10/10
"The General is like watching extreme sports for the 1920s! It's crazy, it's dangerous, the adrenaline is in the top and the guy could be seriously hurt and he possibly could die if something goes wrong!"

The Mad Hatter - 10/10
"This film flopped when it was released in 1927. Critics thought it too dramatic to be a comedy, and too funny to be a drama. At first this shocked me to read, and then I remembered that people also chided The Beatles for The White Album when it was released..." 

Movie Guy Steve - 10/10
"The General is, and I'm really trying not to overuse this word, Keaton's masterpiece. It's brilliant from start to finish."

Siochembio - 10/10
"I would easily recommend The General to be the first silent film someone sees."

Thomas Gatto - 10/10
"Watching Keaton do his own stunts with marvelous comic ambition is certainly a privilege. His style has aged gracefully and was surely well ahead of its time. Gray is a fool, but Keaton plays him with gritty confidence."

Tim Burrow - 10/10
"Keaton makes it all look so easy...It is a thrilling ride, and terrific entertainment. There simply aren’t any movies like this anymore."

ChrisLejarzar - 9/10
"It might have taken a while, but we finally caught up to this Keaton classic."

Doug Tilley - 9/10
"Keaton - like other comedy masters after him - realized that production values can fuel comedy, and his demonstrations of war - with an eye for period accuracy - are as polished as any of the period."

johnlgilpatrick - 9/10
"The General is a great template for future filmmakers aspiring to make an action comedy. In other action comedies, the comedy part feels forced and the action uninspired. Here, Keaton and director Clyde Bruckman let the comedy develop naturally from the situations."

Squish - 9/10
"Once you're seen this, you'll want to go and steal a train to save your woman."

This Guy Over Here - 9/10
"Keaton's genius as a comedic stuntman is at its peak in The General. It’s quite hilarious, but it’s often hard to laugh at when your breath has been taken away. In an age so bombarded with huge action flicks, one might find The General a great segue into the silent film era."

TSorensen - 9/10
"Those engines are awesome! I want one."

Sunny D - 8.5/10
"I would unequivocally put it at the top of my list of movies to show someone who was skeptical as to how movies ever managed to entertain people before they had sound and color."

Klaus Ming - 8/10
"While the simplistic plot is largely a vehicle for Keaton’s obsession for trains and his outrageously dangerous acrobatics aboard them, it also provides a fictionalized account of a civil war incident known as The Great Locomotive Chase of 1862."

Univarn - 8/10
"A testament to the ever talented, physical specimen, that is Buster Keaton, The General will wow, thrill, and amuse film goers from beginning to end."

Nicolas Krizan - 8/10
"twists and turns enough to satisfy the most demanding spectator"

KimWilson - 7/10
"If you like Chaplin or Harold Lloyd you will like this film. A true silent classic."

alfindeol - 6/10
"It's OK to cheer for the south as long as there are no slaves."

Andrew Robinson - 4/10
"With Buster Keaton's ridiculous falling over a banana peel style comedy it's hard for me to relate to it. I guess, it does at times remind of me of when I was a young child and watched things like Bugs Bunny and Road Runner cartoons, but is that a good thing?"

Overall Rating: 8.3/10

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