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Cast: Marion Mack, Glen Cavender, Buster Keaton, Charles Smith, Frank Barnes, Jim Farley, Frederick Vroom, Joe Keaton, Mike Donlin, Tom Nawn
Directors: Buster Keaton, Clyde Bruckman
UK: 79 mins
UK Certificate: U
UK Release Date: 3 February 2006 (Limited Re-release - London, NFT)
Widely recognised as one of the very greatest comedies ever made, Keaton's Civil War classic is not only wonderfully funny; it also succeeds as a suspenseful action adventure, a touching love story and a meticulously mounted historical drama.
Train-driver Johnnie Gray (Keaton) is turned down when he tries to enlist in the army because he's more valuable to the South as an engineer. The open disdain of his fiancee Annabelle Lee (Marion Mack) and her family (who mistake his civilian status as proof of cowardice) causes him frustration and anger, but when Union soldiers steal the other love of his life - his engine 'The General' - and head off north, Johnnie decides that enough is enough?
What follows is essentially a chase-movie that gives rise to a constant stream of extraordinarily inventive gags; but what enables the film to transcend mere comic genius is its formal perfection. Filmed in black and white, a silent classic from Buster Keaton.