The General (1926)

Film Review


Release Date: 31 December, 1926

Studio: United Artists

Director: Buster Keaton, Clyde Bruckman

Starring: Buster Keaton, Marion Mack

Special Notes: TCM Classic Film Festival, 2013

This film was featured as part of the Riding the Rails category at the 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival. It was introduced by TCM television host Robert Osborne.


During the Civil War, Keaton, a railroad engineer, is prevented from enlisting because his railroading skills are more important to the Southern cause than his service as a soldier. His girl, Mack, rebuffs any man not in uniform. A group of Northern raiders steal Keaton's train, which is pulled by his engine, known as The General. Mack, on the train, is taken to North. Keaton pursues them into Union Army lines, takes back the General (and his girl), and is, in turn, pursued back into Southern territory. A battle occurs when the pursuing Northern troops meet oncoming Southern troops. Keaton, Mack, and the General return home safely. Keaton, commissioned a Lieutenant, is kissed by Mack.


Keaton produced this film, a masterpiece, on a large-scale. The production includes two small armies, several trains, a train wreck on a trestle, and a battle scene. Comedy on a moving train involves Keaton in several dangerous stunts, including one in which he stands on the engine's cowcatcher and clears railroad ties from the tracks.