Saturday, July 31, 2010

Capsule Review: The General (1927)

Buster Keaton's finest hour, and perhaps the greatest of all silent film comedies, The General might not be as packed with gags as other Keaton efforts (though it's darn close), but they happen so fluidly - and are of such huge ambition - that it's nearly impossible to believe that most were made up on the spot. Keaton is terrific as Johnny Gray, a young engineer spurned by his beloved when he's rejected from serving in the Civil War. He gets a chance to prove himself when his locomotive is stolen, leading to some absolutely astounding comedy - both the physical stunts Keaton was renowned for as well as some tremendous feats of destruction. Keaton - like other comedy masters after him - realized that production values can fuel comedy, and his demonstrations of war - with an eye for period accuracy - are as polished as any of the period. Practically perfect.

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