The General

The General

Probably Buster Keaton’s best film, The General is an action film with clever doses of romance and comedy. Set during the American Civil War, the film centers on a train engineer named John Gray (Buster Keaton) who tries to enlist in the Confederate Army, but is turned down because the military thinks he would be more valuable to the war effort if he keeps his current job as an engineer. Unfortunately, both his family and his fiancée misunderstand and consider him a coward, refusing to talk to him until he is in uniform. But the hero will have the chance to prove his bravery and courage when his engine is stolen by some Northern spies, his fiancée being accidentally kidnapped with the stolen locomotive (called “The General”). John Gray will start chasing, first on foot, then with a trolley and finally with another engine, to free his fiancée and locomotive.

John Gary has the opportunity to rehabilitate himself in the eyes of his fiancée and to go from a buffoon despised for his alleged cowardice, to a real hero. And to embody the two classic qualities that a husband must have: to be able to take care of his family, and protect his loved ones when needed.

Keaton is at his best, showcasing in this film his multiple talents: as an actor, acrobat, stuntman and director. It is a silent film that will give you more laughs than most modern comedies, with plenty of substance on top of that.


  • Original title: The General
  • Original language: English
  • Starring: The General (Joseph Frank Keaton, aka Buster Keaton)
  • Genre: Silent, historical movie
  • Release date: 2012
  • Public: Adults, teenagers
  • Available at the Internet Archive (public domain movie): link