The second free movie in our Make 'Em Laugh: Classic American Comedies series is one of the greatest American films ever made: Buster Keaton's 1926 masterpiece, The General, which will be shown this Thursday, October 2, at 6:00 p.m. in Memorial Hall.
The title of Keaton’s epic Civil War comedy refers to the name of Confederate railroad engineer Johnny Gray’s beloved steam engine, which he must recapture from a group of Union soldiers who have stolen it and are attempting to destroy the rails in Georgia. Based on a true incident from 1862 (which Walt Disney turned into The Great Locomotive Chase starring Fess Parker in 1956), The General was the highest ranked silent movie on the 10th anniversary edition of the American Film Institute's "100 Years ... 100 Movies" list at #18. Keaton’s masterpiece is one of the longest, most elaborate chases ever filmed, and its images have often been favorably compared to Matthew Brady’s Civil War photography.It's a truly amazing movie that should not be missed. And if you're somewhat iffy about watching a silent movie, consider the fact that when audiences are first introduced to a silent comedy by Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, or Harold Lloyd, they soon forget that it's silent (although there is a musical score) and in black-and-white, and they become totally caught up in the wonderful and inventive comedy.
|A 1926 poster for Keaton's "The General"|
Mark P. Hasskarl