Wednesday, 23 June 2010
The General 
Along with Gold Rush, The General forms one of the greatest silent screen comedies. However, where the former painted a devastatingly acerbic picture of heartbreak and suffering, the latter, set against the turbulent times of the American Civil War, is an example of wholesome fun and undiluted entertainment. And in Buster Keaton, one of the giants of the medium, with his deadpan, expressionless face, we have here the perfect archetype of a common man who ends up doing some spectacularly uncommon deeds. Keaton stars here as Johnnie Gray, a railroad engineer, who has only two loves in his life – the locomotive he drives and the lady he loves. However, when he is refused to be enlisted during the war, his sweetheart turns her back on him. Fortunately for him, he gets to redeem himself before her eyes, and in what glorious fashion, when both his locomotive gets stolen and his lady gets hijacked. Set against a pulsating soundtrack, the film abounds in a series of remarkable and hilarious sight gags and two unforgettable train-chase sequences that are part of cinematic folklore. Interestingly, Keaton performed all the stunts himself, including some decidedly dangerous ones, as he did in all his films. Despite the advent of sound and technology, the film still remains one of the most ingenuous and exciting comedy and adventure films ever made.
Directors: Clyde Bruckman & Buster Keaton
Genre: Comedy/Slapstick Comedy/Adventure