The General at FWSO


It must be regarded as Keaton’s finest film, and certainly the best war comedy to come out in the silent period. It may also be the best war comedy to come out of any period of motion pictures. – Theo Winthrop, writer for

The General” is an epic of silent comedy, one of the most expensive films of its time, including an accurate historical recreation of a Civil War episode, hundreds of extras, dangerous stunt sequences, and an actual locomotive falling from a burning bridge into a gorge far below. It was inspired by a real event; the screenplay was based on the book “The Great Locomotive Chase,” written by William Pittenger, the engineer who was involved…..“The General” was voted one of the 10 greatest films of all time in the authoritative Sight & Sound poll…Keaton’s works…have such a graceful perfection, such a meshing of story, character and episode, that they unfold like music. – Roger Ebert

There’s no point sitting on the fence on this one. Buster Keaton’s The General is a work of genius. Seldom has a film so effortlessly blended so many genres. Action, adventure, comedy, romance and historical war epic are all present in one form or another in this remarkable work, and all are condensed into an impressively brief 75 minutes of screen time. – Dan Jardine, film critic

Poorly received on its initial release, THE GENERAL is now widely considered to be Buster Keaton’s greatest film…THE GENERAL survives, and survives gloriously, as probably the only extant film that would qualify for all-time ten-best lists in the categories of both comedy and adventure. Three years before his death in 1966, Keaton said, “I was more proud of that picture than any I ever made.” – (unknown author)