The General (1927)

 ●  English ● Running Time: TBA

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When Union spies steal an engineer's beloved locomotive, he pursues it single handedly and straight through enemy lines.
Did you know? In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #18 Greatest Movie of All Time. It was the first inclusion of this film on the list. Read More
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as Johnnie Gray
as Annabelle Lee
as Raider
as Officer on Horseback
as Raider
as Soldier
as Union General
as Raider
as Officer
as Annabelle's Father
as Raider
as Union Railroad Fireman
as Union Officer
as Union General Who Gives Command to Cross Bridge
as Annabelle's Brother
as Confederate Recruiter
as A Southern General
as Captain Anderson
as Union Soldier
as Soldier
as Soldier
as Raider
as Bit Part
as Boy Who Follows Johnny
as Soldier
Supporting Actor
as General Thatcher
as Raider
as Soldier
as Union General
as Union Soldier
as Soldier
as Soldier
as Union General
as Raider
as Raider
as Raider
as Raider
as Union Soldier
as Raider
as Officer
as Raider
as Union General

Direction

Production

Producer
Executive Producer

Writers

Screenplay Writer

Camera and Electrical

Director of Photography

Art

Art Director
Set Decorator

Editorial

Stunts

Stunt Director
Film Type:
Feature Film
Language:
English
Colour Info:
Black & White
Frame Rate:
24 fps
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1
Stereoscopy:
No
Taglines:
Love, Locomotives and Laughs
Goofs:
Continuity
When the General is first stolen, Johnnie is washing his hands; when he sees the train pulling away, he walks away from the sink with his hands covered in soap, but in the following reverse shot where he tells the passengers what has happened, his hands are clean.

Continuity
When Johnnie is chopping wood on the train, the piece of wood changes size between the different shots.

Continuity
When Annabelle Lee is brought inside the Union headquarters by two soldiers, her clothes are soaking wet from the rain clearly visible through a window, but the soldiers' clothes are dry.

Continuity
When Johnnie is chasing the General in the Texas, during most of the chase the engine has a sliding hatch in the cab roof, but just before Johnnie abandons the Texas, the roof changes to a smooth roof without a hatch, and slightly different shape.

Continuity
Annabelle gets drenched when she and Johnnie stop for water, but as they return to the engine, her dress is dry.

Continuity
Johnnie's and Annabelle's clothes are dry, neat, and clean the morning after camping outside without shelter during the thunderstorm

Factual Mistake
The cowcatchers on Western & Atlantic RR trains had horizontal bars, rather than the vertical ones seen on all three trains in the film.

Revealing Mistakes
When Johnnie is running through the woods to escape the Union soldiers, his hat drops from the tree before his head hits the hat to dislodge it.

Revealing Mistakes
When Johnnie gets switched on the siding, and reverses back onto the mainline, his locomotive slides a fair distance after the drivers stop, indicating that the rails have been heavily greased to prepare for the wheel slip scene following it.
Trivia:
Buster Keaton always said that this was his favorite movie.

The scene in which The Texas crashes through the bridge was the single most expensive shot of the entire silent movie era. The Texas itself remained in the river until WWII, when it was salvaged for scrap iron.

The first try at getting the cannonball to shoot out of the cannon into the cab caused the ball to shoot with too much force. To cause the cannonball to shoot into the cab of the engine correctly, Keaton had to count out the grains of gunpowder with tweezers.

In the scene where Johnnie and Annabelle refill the water reservoir of the train, Marion Mack said in an interview many years later that she had no idea that she was supposed to get drenched. Buster Keaton had not told her what was supposed to happen, so the shock you see is genuine.

In the train crash a dummy was used as engineer. It looks so realistic that the townspeople who had come to watch screamed in horror.

The final battle scene sparked a small forest fire around the river. Buster Keaton, his crew, and the extras stopped filming to fight the fire.

Buster Keaton wanted to use the real locomotive "The General" in the movie which was at the Nashville, Chattanooga, and St Louis Union Depot in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the railroad initially permitted him to do so, even providing him with a branch line to film on. However, when it became known that the film was to be a comedy, the railroad withdrew permission, and Keaton had to look elsewhere.

For the scenes with the opposing armies marching, Buster Keaton had the extras (which included Oregon National Guard troops) wear the gray uniforms of the Confederacy and march in one direction past the camera, then he had them change uniforms to the Union blues and had them march past the camera in the other direction.

When the Texas goes over the burning bridge and plummets into the river, the looks of shock on the faces of the Union officers were real, because the actors who played them were not told what was going to happen to that train.

Florida State University commissioned composer Jeff Beal to write a brand-new soundtrack for this silent film. It was premiered by the University Philharmonia along with the original film playing just above the orchestra.

In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #18 Greatest Movie of All Time. It was the first inclusion of this film on the list.

Buster Keaton shot most of this film outdoors in Oregon because the narrow-gauge railroad tracks that could accommodate antique locomotives were still in use at the time.