#188 / 365 – ‘The General’ (1926) – 85 mins
IMDb Challenge #114 / 250 – Ranked #120 – Via Lovefilm
Johnnie loves his train (“The General”) and Annabelle Lee. When the Civil War begins he is turned down for service because he’s more valuable as an engineer. Annabelle thinks it’s because he’s a coward. Union spies capture The General with Annabelle on board. Johnny must rescue both his loves.
This was my second Buster Keaton film I had encountered on the IMDb 250, with the first being the classic gem ‘Sherlock, Jr’ on day 3 of the challenge. Like Sherlock, Jr, the tricks and physical comedy are impeccable within The General. The most impressive shot is when the Union train is crossing the burning Rock River Bridge and then plummeting into the water below. This stunt would have taken incredible precise timing and to think its all real is even more impressive, and from a silent era who were light years away from CGI – a truly breathtaking moment.
Whilst for me, The General lacked the heart and humanity of Sherlock, Jr, it is very funny and entertaining. If you’re looking to encompass the silent film genre and want an alternative place to start before the legendary Charles Chaplin, then you can go no wrong here.