The General

If you have not yet seen the film, there may be some spoilers in here for you! :O
But if you have not seen the General… then you haven’t lived my friend.

The General starring Buster Keaton; one of the absolute classic films of silent slapstick comedy, so of course when the opportunity arose to go and see it at my local independent cinema, I pretty much jumped at the chance.

Watching a silent film at the cinema was amazing, the screen was pretty much packed, with people of all ages, and what’s better is that everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves.
Although the rather annoying young girl on the row along from me couldn’t keep her attention on the film, and found it much more entertaining to watch the projectionist do his work –can’t stand people without the attention span for something; just makes my blood boil.

Directed by Buster Keaton and –one reason that I love both Keaton and Chaplin, was simply because they would always direct their own films. I’d like to see some actors do that! - Starring Buster Keaton (Johnny Gray), Marion Mack (Annabelle Lee), Charles Henry Smith (Mr. Lee) and Glen Cavender (Union Capt. Anderson).

The General takes place around the American civil war, and the film follows Johnny Gray (Keaton) as he -pretty much- saves the day with the help of his trusty locomotive ‘The General’. Now the way I’ve put that makes it sound something akin to Thomas the Tank Engine, so believe me when I say; this is one of the best comedies ever made!

The film is suitable for anyone; granted small children will have difficulty with the titles, but otherwise the film’s amazing physical humour will lighten anyone’s mood. The General is a film for anyone that loves film; and prefers something a little more sophisticated to the likes of today’s humour –this is kind light hearted comedy, not in your face, obnoxious and rude sex romps… but then I call The General sophisticated, and its just really good slapstick comedy at its finest.

Without a doubt the absolute star of the film is Buster Keaton; with his deadpan expression and his amazing physicality makes the film awesome, without him the film would be nothing and it is his physical presence alone that makes the film so fantabulous. Similarly I could never see anyone play Sam Lowry in Brazil, I could never see anyone else play the part of Johnny Gray besides Buster Keaton.
I also love Marion Mack in the film because she has that silent film actress look to her; also for all the humour on her part as well, for instance while she’s in the sack, and when she ‘does-everything-wrong’ with the train.

The screenplay and plot are pretty standard, and it is really hard to comment on factors such as lines in a silent film. But it is not the plot which is integral to the film –it is everything that happens along the way. Such as the scenes on the train, the big battle sequence and Johnny’s spying on the North, which all happen as a result on the basic theme of the civil war. One scene in particular I love that comes from this is particular skit in the recruitment office

I had high hopes that we would be lucky enough to have a live pianist playing for the film’s soundtrack; though I was being way too optimistic, but all the same it was still an amazing experience.

The film is amazing, I don’t think I can say it anymore than I have already, every scene is a guaranteed laugh as well as being extremely memorable and an absolute classic of silent cinema, up there with City Lights, Modern Times and The Kid in my books, which is saying a lot!
One scene I absolutely love –just remembered it- is when they are running extremely low on wood, and Johnny tells her to put everything in, and he makes sure she puts this minuscule piece of wood in the incinerator, and she then procures a broom out of nowhere and starts sweeping the train’s floor, ah the look on his face..

I don’t think it is possible to say that there are any bad points to The General, the acting is great for the time, as is the story (as far as some silent films go, except with Chaplin’s films of the same era), the humour is great and there are some scenes in particular that are prime examples of classic cinema.

A film so prolific I would most readily recommend it to anyone that enjoys films, or pretty much just wants a good laugh. So if you ever have the chance of watching it at a cinema, GO SEE IT!!!

Cptalbertwesker Rating – 10/10
An absolutely amazing experience, one I shall cherish for ages; not simply for the timeliness of it. But also for the highly amused uproar of most of the cinema patrons; each and every humorous act met with such laughter. Something that is definitely not comparable by audiences of today’s comedies.


At 10:23 pm, Anonymous Tony said...

uhhhh damn, that's a first 10 isn't it? Too bad I've no idea how to find this. Maybe rent it later.

At 10:35 pm, Blogger Cptalbertwesker said...

Yup itsa great film, but I really gave it a 10 for the experience of seeing it in a cinema as well... I'm just a sucker for classics really ^_^

Silent films are not everyone's cup of tea though :)

At 9:45 am, Blogger JLO said...

Buster Keaton is the best actor of the history. I'm argentine, I'm big fan of Buster. My favorites are Navigator, Sherlock Jr, Streamboat Bill Jr. of the films. One week, The Frozen North (great villain!)and The Goat for the shorts. Sorry for my english. Thanks Buster!!


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