The General - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The General Reviews

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July 16, 2017
This is a standard for burlesque.
June 24, 2017
The General is a gloriously entertaining, good ol' fashioned chase movie. Buster Keaton takes a simple American Civil War tale and uses it as a springboard on which to hang a series of his signature slapstick shenanigans.
The film contains not one but two of the greatest train chase sequences in cinematic history - which would go on to inspire anything from Back to the Future Part III to Wallace & Gromit: The Wrong Trousers. But its Keaton himself, chewing up scenery and dropping self-constructed sight gags like dominos, that really lends The General its magic.
Keaton is a master of slapstick acrobatics and this film is the ultimate exhibition of his brilliantly simplistic and beautifully orchestrated comic genius.
½ June 9, 2017
It's a fun adventure, with a really cool main character and crazy stunts. The plot was great, the action was great, and the acting and cinematography was great. So overall, the film was great.
May 10, 2017
A triumph of the silent era!
½ April 9, 2017
The physicality of Buster Keaton's performance is astounding. Needless to say, safety protocols weren't particularly stringent in 1926, so the risks filmmakers were willing to take in order to get the shot skewed towards the extreme.

From sprinting down railroad tracks to leaping around a locomotive and riding on its cow-pusher, one wonders throughout the movie how Keaton avoided mangling himself several times over (though he was knocked unconscious filming the cannonball bit).

As if the action weren't enough, The General is funny too. One might assume that the comedy of a 90-year old silent film wouldn't hold up. Yet it does, remarkably so, which is why the film is timeless and will always be considered one of the greatest early films ever made.
April 8, 2017
1862, Georgia, USA. The American Civil War is in its second year and Johnnie Gray is barred from enlisting. He is a train engineer and the Confederate Army feel he is more valuable to the Southern cause in his current role than in the army. This frustrates Johnnie and has estranged him from his sweetheart Annabelle, who views him as a coward. Then his beloved engine, The General, is stolen by Union spies and is heading for Union lines. Moreover, Annabelle is on board. Johnnie sets off after the two loves of his life.

Great comedy from the silent era, directed and starring one of the greatest comedy directors and actors of that era, Buster Keaton. This is a rollicking adventure complete with wonderfully thought-out and performed physical comedy and other sight gags. Some very clever use of the plot to generate the comedy.

The plot itself isn't overly profound, but crams in a lot of action and adventure, plus some romance.

Very entertaining.
Super Reviewer
March 12, 2017
The General is Buster Keaton's most memorable work. It utilised some incredible stunts and good comical tricks, but I find it rather distasteful to make a comedy about the civil war.
February 4, 2017
My first Buster Keaton movie gets an A+ for physical comedy and an F for dialogue. (I kid! It's silent.) I love how most actions in the movie (his almost getting burned by a cigar while hiding under a table) are funny on their own but then have a second payoff (the hole in the tablecloth lets him see what happens in the room). I'm not rushing to watch more Keaton, but I do have a greater appreciation.
January 22, 2017
One of the greatest comedies of all time.
January 19, 2017
Timeless and comedic in a way, Buster Keaton's The General is one of the best of the silent era
December 5, 2016
Technically impressive (including the most expensive shot of the whole silent era) and bolstered by Buster Keaton's inimitable talent as a physical comedian, writer and director with incredible attention to realism and detail, "The General" is an ageless film that successfully melds one huge action sequence with many classic gags. It's quite a miraculous film for 1926, definitely ahead of its time, and holds up very well 90 years later.
½ November 15, 2016
This silent comedy largely centres around Keaton on a train and is basec on an historical incident. It contains a lot of classic physical comedy, which is often quite dangerous as well. The film contains several laugh-out-loud moments. Considered to be one of the best movies of all time. 1001
October 5, 2016
Not the same type as Sherlock Jr., but the movement of camera and pictures of the film are tremendous; maybe one of the greatest comedy of all time.
September 17, 2016
I couldn't get into it. Even for its time I don't think it was a very good film. It's certainly not a good comedy. Very dull and unwatchable. (First and only viewing - 8/22/2012)
April 18, 2016
My first Buster Keaton movie! A classic I've been hearing about for most of my film-loving life! And a huge, mediocre let-down.
March 26, 2016
Very impressive classic movie. Full of laughs and adventure, definitely worth checking out for classic movie buffs.
February 26, 2016
Just amazing.

Really, really impressive scenes with the railway engines and a physically incredible Keaton.
½ December 21, 2015
Greatest piece of silent film acrobatics.
½ November 18, 2015
I've never watched a silent film before (other than shorts) and I didn't know what to expect out of an hour of silence (the DVD had a musical track added but it didn't match the movie all that well, and often became a distraction so I stopped listening.) It amazed me how great the plot was spelled out in The General. As someone who has grown up with TV shows and movies always talking to me, it's easy to forget how effectively story can be presented through facial expressions and body language. Buster Keaton is particularly gifted at moving his body and face in order to convey emotion, and his struggles feel so real. Perhaps the hardest thing to do, which he pulls off extremely well, is adding comedic moments without becoming a clown. There are a few scenes where the action becomes overly slapstick and artificial, but in general his struggles are things I laugh at because I could see myself making the same mistakes. The truly amazing thing about The General was the superb shot selection. In an era when this whole moving picture thing was still new, they did a brilliant job knowing where to set the camera for best impact on each shot, and when to transition to a different angle. The only problem I had with The General is that it would have been more effective if the movie stuck with just the single train-stealing situation that got Johnnie into the ordeal in the first place, instead of basically taking on an entire battle in the Civil War. Once Johnnie returns to the South I think the movie could have wound down, but it continues and I was much less invested emotionally at this point. Still, it's nice to know that a film that is nearly 90 years old can be so enjoyable to me today. If you think it's something you could appreciate, then I'd recommend giving The General a try.
October 6, 2015
keaton at his funniest
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