Buster Keaton’s delirious masterpiece, The General, turned 80 last year; watching the new, deluxe DVD reissue made us wonder why Hollywood still hasn’t been able to match it in wit and imagination.
The General is a Civil War–era train that’s stolen by Union soldiers. Keaton plays the Confederate engineer who chases it down and saves his
fiancée (the lovely Marion Mack), who just happens to be on board. Keaton performed all of his own stunts — done mainly on top of and alongside the train — without once losing his composure, and the resulting film is his finest moment. The 35mm archive print has been transferred to HD (it looks fabulous), and the bonuses include introductions by Orson Welles and Gloria Swanson, multiple soundtracks, and a tour of the filming locations. It will remind you of a time when silence truly was golden.
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