Friday, October 16, 2009
32. The General (1927)
Running Time: 75 minutes
Directed By: Buster Keaton, Clyde Bruckman
Written By: Al Boasberg, Clyde Bruckman
Main Cast: Buster Keaton, Marion Mack, Glen Cavender, Jim Farley, Frederick Vroom
POSSIBLY THE GREATEST WAR MOVIE I'VE EVER SEEN
Buster Keaton is back as Johnnie Gray, a railroad engineer in The General, probably my least favorite Keaton movie so far, yet still fantastic.
When the Civil War breaks out, Johnnie, eager to please the other love of his life (the first being his locomotive, The General) goes straight to the enlistment office to join the ranks of brave men ready to fight for the South. Once at the enlistment office, Johnnie is told that because he is an engineer, he would be more useful to the South in that occupation, than as a soldier.
Johnnie, put out and again, wanting nothing more than to make his girl Annabelle happy, goes back to work on his locomotive, after being shunned by Annabelle. But when Johnnie's locomotive, The General, is stolen by Union spies, with Annabelle on board, Johnnie springs into action to save both his woman and his engine. In a fantastic sequence, with Keaton first chasing down the General on foot and then on a penny farthing bicycle, eventually catches up to another train and the chase is on, as it's Keaton against the entire fleet of Union spies. The chase takes up the better part of the first thirty minutes of the film, with Keaton doing everything in his power to catch up to his General and stop the enemies, even using a cannon which is on board the locomotive that he commandeered.
Eventually night falls, and Johnnie finds himself alone, at the North's base camp, and it is here when he finally realizes that they have also captured Annabelle. Johnnie rescues his gal, and heads away from the Northern camp. Donning a Northern uniform, Johnnie makes his way on board the General and takes back what is rightfully his, and a second chase is on, this time with the Union spies chasing Johnnie.
While I cannot say that I enjoyed The General more than other Keaton offerings, such as, Our Hospitality, Seven Chances or even Sherlock Jr., I can admit now that I've finally seen a great war movie, even if that war movie is a comedy. Buster Keaton had the perfect formula for blending together comedy and suspense and could keep you laughing, all the while keeping you planted on the edge of your seat. Keaton, more notably remembered for his comedy, was also a great stuntman, doing some outrageous things for the sake of his films and getting the big payoffs, so that he could ensure the audience got their moneys worth. I only have one Keaton film left, and it's gonna be sad to see him go. Keaton has provided me with hours of entertainment already, and has cemented several spots on my personal favorite films list.
RATING: 8.5/10 Can't go the full monty, but that's only because I enjoyed some of his other films better. I think Seven Chances is, thus far, my favorite.
NEXT UP: The Unknown...Caught it on Turner Classic Movies the other night and recorded it, so the tape is waiting for me and at only about an hour long, it should be ready for review later tonight.
October 15, 2009 10:45pm
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