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Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> August 2000 >> The General

The General

Movie Commentary by Scott Ventura


Scott's Rating:
5 / 5
Times Seen:
Viewing Dates on Record:
August 2000, February 2002
IMDB Name:
General, The (1927)
Clyde Bruckman
Buster Keaton
comedy, romance, silent
MPAA Rating:
Unrated (predates MPAA ratings)

Train of Thought

It's hard to believe that a great movie like The General was ever possible. It is a work of art blending comedy and romance with the best in physical humor, and I can't recommend it enough. I've known for a long time that Jackie Chan cites Buster Keaton as an influence, and now I see why. Keaton's stoic demeanor, creativity, dexterity, and minimalist acting combine to form as endearing a hero as you could want. That he gives up companionship to avoid telling his girlfriend that she's wrong only adds to the charm.

The stunts in The General, mostly involving real trains, look terrifying. One scene has Keaton using only his foot to hold onto a tender car which has been disconnected. Another has him precariously perched on the cow catcher of a locomotive trying to prevent derailment. Call me crazy, but those do not look easy or safe in the least. Keaton does them all with nary a batted eyelash. Co-star Marion Mack has her share of stuntwork, too. In a surprisingly enlightened moment, her character hatches a very successful scheme to slow their pursuers.

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Copyright 2000-2002 by Scott Ventura. All rights reserved.