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[Below Synopsis may contain SPOILERS!]

The film opens in 1861. Johnny Gray, an engineer for the Western and Atlanta Railroad, has entered Marietta, Georgia. He is greeted by two young men who follow him to his girlfriend's home. The girl's brother announces the attack on Fort Sumter, indicating the start of the Civil War. He states that he will join the Confederate Army. The girl encourages Johnny to join the army. He attempts to, but is rejected because he is more valuable as an engineer with the railroad. The girl, believing Johnny was a coward because he did not join the army, rejects him.

A year later, a Union plot unfolds to hijack Keaton's train and use it to destroy confederate rail lines and break supply lines. Keaton spends much of the film attempting to foil the plot and keep the girl out of harm's way. At one point, he finds himself in Union headquarters, underneath the table and listening to Union strategy. He uses this knowledge to foil union plans.

The film closes with Johnny lighting a bridge on fire, which leads to a spectacular crash by the train run by the union officers. A battle follows. Through a series of errors, Johnny ends up defeating the union forces and returns a hero. As the film closes, he is commissioned a lieutenant in the Confederate Army for his bravery. The girl takes him back, and they kiss as Johnny salutes dozens of enlisted men. Fade to black.
 
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CastFrank Barnes, Buster Keaton, Edward Hearn, Frank S. Hagney, Budd Fine, Mike Donlin, Charles Smith, Joe Keaton, Glen Cavender, Fred Vroom, Richard Allen, Marion Mack, Jim Farley, Tom Nawn, Anthony Harvey, Ray Thomas, Jimmy Bryant, Ross McCutcheon, Charles Phillips
DirectorBuster Keaton
Genre:  Comedy, Romance
Release Date:  February 5, 1927
MPAA Rating:  Unrated
Screen WriterBuster Keaton, Charles Smith
DVD Release Date:  Kino on Video (October 26, 1999)
Runtime:  1hr 19min
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review by . June 28, 2011
Three very funny classics
It is fun watching classic films. They are so different than modern ones. This is a set of three digitally mastered movies: The General, from 1926, lasts 75 minutes; The Playhouse, from 1921, is 23 minutes; and Cops, from 1922, is 18 minutes. Buster Keaton stars in all three. He was one of two writers and directors of each. They are in black and white, no talking. The films are clear. They are funny.      The General is the name of a train and Keaton is its engineer. It is 1861 …
review by . June 13, 2011
You can't claim to know American movies unless you know Buster Keaton
I had two choices watching this movie...smile or laugh out loud. When I wasn't smiling I was laughing. Buster Keaton's The General is a perfect introduction for those who may shy away from silent movies or who may think silent comics are too exaggerated and mannered. The story line is simple, but what Keaton does with it is genius.       Johnny Gray (Buster Keaton) is an engineer for the Western and Atlantic Railroad. He has two loves, his engine, the General, and …
review by . September 02, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Keaton and the train     Cons: Glorification of the Confederacy (PC thugs need only apply for this one)     The Bottom Line: Ten bucks on the Washington Generals     International action superstar Jackie Chan stated in his autobiography that the first action heroes in movies were really the giants of the silent film era. This may not mean much to an intellectual such as yourself, as it's coming from a guy who once flew around a city …
review by . January 31, 2003
posted in Movie Hype
The debate concerning who was the better comedian; Keaton or Chaplin, will always go on. However, I would say Keaton was because Keaton was the better overall actor of the two. Chaplin was funny because he tried to be funny, but Keaton was funny because he never really looked like he was trying to be funny. No where is this more apparent than in THE GENERAL. It is one of, if not the, best Keaton movies ever made. Not much needs to be said about the plot because that's talked to death elsewhere. …
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