The General

Critics Consensus

Brilliantly filmed and fueled with classic physical comedy, The General captures Buster Keaton at his timeless best.



Reviews Counted: 48

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Average Rating: 4.3/5

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Movie Info

Buster Keaton plays Johnny Gray, a Southern railroad engineer who loves his train engine, The General, almost as much as he loves Annabelle Lee (Marion Mack). When the opening shots of the Civil War are fired at Fort Sumter, Johnny tries to enlist -- and he is deemed too useful as an engineer to be a soldier. All Johnny knows is that he's been rejected, and Annabelle, thinking him a coward, turns her back on him. When Northern spies steal the General (and, unwittingly, Annabelle), the story switches from drama and romance to adventure mixed with Keaton's trademark deadpan humor as he uses every means possible to catch up to the General, thwart the Yankees, and rescue his darling Annabelle -- for starters. As always, Keaton performs his own stunts, combining his prodigious dexterity, impeccable comic timing, and expressive body language to convey more emotion than the stars of any of the talkies that were soon to dominate cinema. ~ Emru Townsend, Rovi

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Buster Keaton
as Johnnie Gray
Marion Mack
as Annabelle Lee
Charles Smith
as Annabelle's Father
Frank Barnes
as Annabelle's Brother
Glen Cavender
as Capt. Anderson
Jim Farley
as Gen. Thatcher
Fred Vroom
as Southern General
Joe Keaton
as Union General
Mike Donlin
as Union General
Tom Nawn
as Union General
Ray Thomas
as Raider
Edward Hearn
as Union Officer
Budd Fine
as Raider
Frank S. Hagney
as Recruiting Officer
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Critic Reviews for The General

All Critics (48) | Top Critics (10)

Audience Reviews for The General

Very simply a genius execution, filled with variety, purpose, and most of all, humor, as the diminutive hero does his utmost to stand amongst the big boys as wartime calls. Unbelievable stuntwork, of course, that'll have you wondering aloud, but as well, a treatment of the heroine that only some eighty years ahead of its time. A train as the third major character, two armies battling it out, and a train crash that couldn't've been faked. Simply incredible stuff.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

The only problem is that Keaton was in the wrong side of the war.

Lucas Martins
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer

A true classic in every sense of the word, hysterically funny like few others and featuring some of the most exciting locomotive chases ever filmed, as well as an epic-scale production, a beautiful score and a cinematography in sepia that feels like a travel in time.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer


A humorous, beautifully shot and constructed silent film concerning a railroad engineer (Buster Keaton) who wants badly to serve the Confederacy in the Civil War but is turned down. When his train and girl are both stolen from him by Union spies he is compelled to try to rescue both. While not as skilled in the realm of slapstick humor as the great Charlie Chaplin, Keaton proves himself to be a capable comedian. It is not as moving and memorable as "City Lights" or some of Chaplin's silent films, but this is still a really well done movie that is consistently funny and entertaining, and it shows that it has a heart as well given its clever finale.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

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