• The General

  • The General

  • The Goat


Hijacking of trains -- Drama, Locomotive engineers -- Drama, Railroads -- Trains -- Drama, United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Drama

The General

  • Judith Rosenberg
    On Piano

Buster Keaton, Marian Mack, Glen Cavander, Jim Farley,

Lyric and comic and, by its very setting, tragic, The General ranks as one of the most authentic evocations of the Civil War on film, and one of the greatest comedies of all time. Keaton brought Matthew Brady–like images to brilliant life in a story based on a true incident of the war (although reversing the sides). Buster is an engineer who is rejected by the Confederate Army and thought a coward by his girlfriend. When a small band of Union soldiers penetrates far beyond Confederate lines to steal a locomotive, he sets off in hot pursuit. The title refers to the engine that figures prominently in one of the most harrowing and hilarious chase scenes ever filmed—in fact, it takes up seven of the film’s eight reels. Buster’s relationship to the train is at least as touching as his love for Marian Mack, and both get rather rough treatment in this wartime setting. A little kiss from Buster makes it better.

Judy Bloch
  • Al Boasberg
  • Charles Smith
Based On
  • from a story by Keaton, Bruckman

  • J. Devereux Jennings
  • Bert Haines
Print Info
  • B&W
  • DCP
  • Silent
  • 85 mins
  • Cohen Film Collection

CineFiles is an online database of BAMPFA's extensive collection of documentation covering world cinema, past and present.

View The General documents  

The end of the line for an independent Keaton (article), Los Angeles Times, Sam Adams, 2008

The General (program note), Toronto International Film Festival, Steve Gravestock, 2004

General, The (program note), San Francisco International Film Festival, Lee Amazonas, 2004

The General (program note), Telluride Film Festival, P.C.U., 2003

Buster Keaton forever: Keaton centennial: 1895-1995 (program note), Pacific Film Archive, Judy Bloch, 1995

Keaton 100 (program note), Cinematheque Ontario/a division of Toronto International Film Festival Group, Sam Harkness, 1995

Forever Buster: Buster Keaton centennial tribute (program note), Castro Theatre, 1995

The General (program note), Wellington Film Festival, 1993

The General (review), Village Voice, Andrew Sarris, 1985

The General (program note), Toronto International Film Festival, 1981

Displaying 10 of 27 publicly available documents.

View all The General documentation on CineFiles.

Preceded By

The Goat

Malcolm St. Clair, Buster Keaton, United States, 1921

In one of the most brilliant and resonant of the shorts, with a hilarious chase scene, Buster is a marginal figure who becomes a cipher for a criminal identity.

Print Info
  • B&W
  • DCP
  • Silent
  • 23 mins
  • Cohen Film Collection
Additional Info
  • Restored by Cineteca di Bologna at L'Immagine Ritrovata Laboratory in association with Cohen Film Collection

Home movie of Buster Keaton on the set of The General

United States, 1927

Print Info
  • B&W
  • 16mm
  • Silent
  • 1 mins