The General (1926)

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    There are 2 replies in this Thread. The last Post () by ethanedwards.

    • The General (1926)



      Information from IMDb

      Plot Summary
      Johnnie loves his train ("The General") and Annabelle Lee.
      When the Civil War begins he is turned down for service because he's more valuable as an engineer.
      Annabelle thinks it's because he's a coward.
      Union spies capture The General with Annabelle on board.
      Johnnie must rescue both his loves.
      Written by Ed Stephan

      Full Cast
      Buster Keaton ... Johnnie Gray
      Marion Mack ... Annabelle Lee
      Glen Cavender ... Captain Anderson
      Jim Farley ... General Thatcher
      Frederick Vroom ... A Southern General
      Charles Henry Smith ... Annabelle's Father (as Charles Smith)
      Frank Barnes ... Annabelle's Brother
      Joe Keaton ... Union General
      Mike Donlin ... Union General
      Tom Nawn ... Union General
      Henry Baird ... Soldier (uncredited)
      Joe Bricher ... Soldier (uncredited)
      Jimmy Bryant ... Raider (uncredited)
      Sergeant Bukowski ... Officer (uncredited)
      C.C. Cruson ... Officer (uncredited)
      Jack Dempster ... Raider (uncredited)
      Keith Fennell ... Soldier (uncredited)
      Budd Fine ... Raider (uncredited)
      Eddie Foster ... Union Railroad Fireman (uncredited)
      Ronald Gilstrap ... Union Soldier (uncredited)
      Frank Hagney ... Confederate Recruiter (uncredited)
      Ray Hanford ... Raider (uncredited)
      Jackie Hanlon ... Boy Who Follows Johnny (uncredited)
      Al Hanson ... Raider (uncredited)
      Anthony Harvey ... Raider (uncredited)
      Edward Hearn ... Union Officer (uncredited)
      Boris Karloff ... Union General (uncredited) (unconfirmed)
      Hilliard Karr ... Soldier (uncredited)
      Elgin Lessley ... Union General Who Gives Command to Cross Bridge
      Louis Lewyn ... Soldier (uncredited)
      Jackie Lowe ... Boy Who Follows Johnny (uncredited)
      Billy Lynn ... Soldier (uncredited)
      Ross McCutcheon ... Raider (uncredited)
      Tom Moran ... Raider (uncredited)
      Charles Phillips ... Raider (uncredited)
      Red Rial ... Raider (uncredited)
      Al St. John ... Officer on Horseback (uncredited)
      Harold Terry ... Union Soldier (uncredited)
      Ray Thomas ... Raider (uncredited)
      Red Thompson ... Raider (uncredited)
      James Walsh ... Soldier (uncredited)
      John Wilson ... Union Soldier (uncredited)
      Jean Woodward ... Undetermined Role (uncredited)

      David Shepard .... video producer (2003 alternate version)
      Buster Keaton .... producer (uncredited)
      Joseph M. Schenck .... executive producer (uncredited)
      Joseph M. Schenck .... producer (uncredited)

      Writing Credits
      Buster Keaton (written by) and
      Clyde Bruckman (written by)
      Al Boasberg (adaptation) and
      Charles Henry Smith (adaptation) (as Charles Smith)
      William Pittenger book "Daring and Suffering: a History of the Great Railroad Adventure" (uncredited)
      William Pittenger memoir "The Great Locomotive Chase" (uncredited)
      Paul Girard Smith uncredited

      Original Music
      The Alloy Orchestra (2003 alternate version)
      Carl Davis (1987)
      Robert Israel (1995 New Score)
      Joe Hisaishi (uncredited)

      Bert Haines
      Devereaux Jennings

      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 always said that this was his favorite movie.

      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.

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

      500 Oregon National Guardsmen play the 2 armies.

      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.

      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.

      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.

      Premiere voted this movie as one of "The 50 Greatest Comedies Of All Time" in 2006.

      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.

      Joseph M. Schenck gave Buster Keaton $400,000 for the movie, so the production company moved with 18 freight cars of props and sets to Oregon. In the next two months the town of Marrietta, Georgia, was built, near the Oregon town of Cottage Grove.

      A number of celebrities have cameos in this film: Glen Cavender had been a hero in the Spanish-American War. Also, Frederick Vroom had appeared earlier in Keaton's The Navigator as the girl's father whose ship is hijacked. Keaton's former director of photography, Elgin Lessley, has a cameo as the Union general who gives the command to cross the burning bridge. Producer Louis Lewyn has a bit part as a soldier.
      Share this
      Based on a true incident during the Civil War. In April 1862, Union agent James J. Andrews led a squad of 21 soldiers on a daring secret raid. Dressed in civilian clothes, Andrews and his men traveled by rail into the Southern states. Their mission was to sabotage rail lines and disrupt the Confederate army's supply chain. At the town of Little Shanty, GA, the raiders stole a locomotive known as "The General." They headed north, tearing up track, burning covered bridges and cutting telegraph lines along the way. William Fuller and Jeff Cain, the conductor and engineer of "The General," pursued the stolen train by rail and foot. They first used a hand-cart (as Buster Keaton does in the film), then a small work locomotive called "The Yonah," which they borrowed from a railroad work crew, and finally a full-sized Confederate army locomotive called "The Texas," which pursued "The General" for 51 miles - in reverse. During the chase, Confederate soldiers were able to repair the sabotaged telegraph wires and send messages ahead of the raiders. Andrews and his men were intercepted and captured near Chattanooga, TN, by a squad of Confederate troops led by Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest (who, after the war, was one of the founders of the Ku Klux Klan). Tried as spies, Andrews and seven of his raiders were hanged (a special gallows was built to hold all eight men). The rest of the raiders were traded in a prisoner exchange. In 1863 the survivors of the mission were awarded the first Medals of Honor (Andrews and the raiders who had been hanged later received the MoH posthumously).

      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.

      The film's hard-edged look was inspired by the battlefield photographs of Matthew Brady, which captured the carnage of the Civil War in shocking detail.

      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.

      The film upon release was a box office disaster and received negative reviews. in response to that, the studio told Buster Keaton that he was now restricted to movie making. After this, the studio would not let him make his own movies, he had to do what the studio gave him to make.

      Included among the '1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die', edited by Steven Jay Schneider.

      There were three locomotives used in the film, one as the General, the Texas, and a spare engine. The spare engine had been originally intended to play the Texas, but the engine that ultimately got that role was found to be in better condition. The spare engine played the role of the Union engine up to the bridge scene, where it played the Texas as it crossed the bridge.

      The enlistment scene takes place in 1861 but the "Southern Cross" flag hanging outside the enlistment office wasn't used until 1862.

      The movie takes place during the Civil War in the 1860s. However the General is equipped with air brakes which weren't invented until 1872 by George Westinghouse.

      The Union infantryman, who was killed by the flying sword blade, was using a Springfield trapdoor rifle which was not made until after the end of the Civil War.

      The pistol Buster Keaton uses near the end of the film to arrest the Yankee officer in the cab of the General is a Colt revolver from the 1870s, not in use back during the US civil war.

      The Texas engine's cab is notably round with rivets, clearly a steel cab found on engines of 1880s to 1890s vintage.

      When the General is first stolen, Johnny 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.

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

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

      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.

      When Keaton 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 Keaton abandons the Texas, the roof changes to a smooth roof without a hatch, and slightly different shape, obviously meaning he changed engines.

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

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

      The General and Texas are seen numbered 3 and 5, respectively. At the time the film is set, the engines of the Western and Atlantic were only known by their names, as were the General and the Texas. The railroads in the Confederacy did not begin numbering their engines until after the war. At that time, the General and Texas were numbered 39 and 49, respectively. The General did not receive the number 3 until the 1880s, and the Texas was renumbered 12 in 1880, then 212 in 1890, and never received the number 5.

      Revealing mistakes
      When Johnny 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.

      When Johnny 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 wheelslip scene following it.

      Memorable Quotes

      Filming Locations
      Cottage Grove, Oregon, USA
      Eugene, Oregon, USA
      McKenzie River, Oregon, USA
      Row River, Oregon, USA
      Santa Monica, California, USA
      Best Wishes
      London- England

      The post was edited 1 time, last by ethanedwards ().

    • Re: (New Review) Civil War Movies- The General (1926)

      The General is a 1926 American silent comedy film released by United Artists
      inspired by the Great Locomotive Chase, which happened in 1862.
      Buster Keaton starred in the film and co-directed it with Clyde Bruckman.
      It was adapted by Al Boasberg, Bruckman, Keaton, Charles Henry Smith (uncredited)
      and Paul Girard Smith (uncredited) from the memoir
      The Great Locomotive Chase by William Pittenger.

      The film, an adventure-epic classic made toward the end of the silent era,
      received both poor reviews by critics (it was considered tedious and disappointing)
      and weak box-office results (about a half million dollars domestically,
      and approximately one million worldwide) at its original release,
      but is now considered by critics as one of the greatest films ever made.
      However, because of its huge budget ($750,000 supplied by Metro chief Joseph Schenck)
      and poor box office, Keaton lost his independence as a film-maker
      and was forced into a restrictive deal with MGM.
      In 1956, the film entered the public domain (in the USA)
      due to the claimant's failure to renew its copyright registration in the 28th year after publication.

      User Review
      Wonderful Humor, Action, & Melodrama,
      13 July 2001Author: Snow Leopard from Ohio

      One of the great masterpieces of cinema, Buster Keaton's "The General" combines inventive humor
      with terrific action and fine melodrama, all beautifully and carefully planned and photographed.
      It is filled with subtle and wonderful details that make it well worth devoting your full attention to watching.
      As an extra bonus, it offers a fascinating look at the Civil War era,
      with many realistic details, inspired by a historical incident.

      After a short opening sequence, the movie divides nicely into two halves.
      Johnny (Keaton) is a railway engineer, turned down in his attempts to enlist in the Confederate Army
      and subsequently rejected by his girl. Continuing with the railroad, one day his locomotive
      is stolen by Union spies, who also kidnap his girl. Johnny first chases the engine into
      Union territory to recapture it, and then is himself chased by the Northern Army
      as he attempts to return home. Both chases are filled with excitement and manic fun,
      with some breathtaking stunts by Keaton thrown in. It all leads up to a dramatic
      and memorable climax that includes many ironic and suggestive touches.

      Keaton is at his best, with the story offering him a perfect showcase for his many talents.
      His slapstick and acrobatic skills are given free rein, and his character's stoic perseverance
      is a fine complement to the frantic action.

      This belongs near the top of any list of great films, a classic worth watching and re-watching.

      Look out for Boris Karlof
      Best Wishes
      London- England