Friday, 20 February 2015

Film Friday: The General (1926)

I thought I would introduce a semi-regular film feature here at The Folly Bird, so welcome to my film collection! First on the shelf (because I simply had to arrange them in chronological order) is 1926's The General starring Buster Keaton.

"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."


The General is a silent film inspired by the Great Locomotive Chase of 1862. The film stars Buster Keaton who also co-directed it with Clyde Bruckman.

At the time of its first release, this action-adventure-comedy wasn't well received by either critics or audiences, resulting in profits of roughly half a million dollars domestically and approximately one million worldwide.

The General had a then huge budget of $750,000 but due to its failure to return a significant profit, Keaton lost his independence as a filmmaker and was forced into a restrictive deal with MGM.

Nowadays The General is considered by critics to be one of the greatest films ever made and in 2007 it was ranked number eighteen by the American Film Institute in the list of the 100 best American films of all time.

Did you know that the failure of the original copyright holder to renew the copyright resulted in it falling into public domain in the USA, meaning that anyone could duplicate and sell a VHS/DVD copy of the film making many copies on the open market of poor quality.

Have you seen The General? What did you think?
Have you ever seen a silent film? I haven't seen many to be honest, I think just two of them (or possibly three, I have a very vague memory of watching something with Lillian Gish in it). I picked The General up as it was 99p and I thought it'd be nice to see a Buster Keaton film and I genuinely enjoyed it. The other silent film I've seen is 1928's The Wedding March, starring Zasu Pitts.


  1. I'd like to see it. I wish I'd taken mire time to watch the Black and white movies they used when I had a tv. Buster Reason makes me think of that guy from only fools and horses! Good review and that's a shame re the copyright. X x

    Oh and I cannot wait for Missy!!!!!! Please do link up with Maricel at TARDIS Tuesday, she would love it!!! X x

    1. They always used to show old films on C4 on weekdays but alas, no more, which is a shame.

      I shall post my Missy adventures on Tuesday then, and link up to that blog :) I had fun doing this one, it just made me sad that one of the things I wore I shouldn't attempt to wear again as it's too delicate xxx

  2. I've seen The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921) and used to watch Harold Lloyd as a child but to be honest, silent films aren't really my thing. xxx

    1. I haven't seen The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse or any Harold Lloyd films. I don't really want to go spending money on these films just in case they bore me to tears and end up a waste of money and they just don't show them on the telly anymore xxx

  3. Keaton was a king of the classics. His work is so good. It's sad that, outside cinemaphiles, he's unknown. When people think of that era, they usually only know Chaplin. It's good for you to spread this education around.

  4. I'm a big fan of silents, and like to see them at the cinema with live music when I can, though I haven't seen that one.

    If you want any inspiration, I heartily recommend 'Picadilly', starring the stunning Anna May Wong.

  5. I have indeed - they're fascinating slices of history. So many were made in such a short time frame, yet countless silent films were lost, too, in the ensuing decades. We're fortunate to have those that we still do.

    This is a great idea for a post series and I eagerly look forward to seeing what else you'll share with us from your film shelf.

    ♥ Jessica


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