Monday, March 10, 2008

The General (Buster Keaton and Clyde Bruckman, 1927)

The General (Buster Keaton and Clyde Bruckman, 1927)
Rating: 7.3

Buster Keaton's The General is a textbook example of a well structured comedy with it's reliance on coincidence, serendipity, recursion, and minoration. It is also an excellent example of a chase/action film, unfortunately the narrative itself is very shallow and basically stretches a simple concept that could have easily been a short and stretches it into 70 minutes of action. The gags become tedious and are often too reliant on slapstick. I've only seen 2 other Keaton features and 2 shorts, however I have seen a lot of clips from his resume, and The General strikes me as a lesser work, despite the reputation. The gags just left more to be desired from me. The train stunts are impressive on a technical level and Keaton's athleticism is always admirable, but overall it failed to translate into genuine hilarity or even arouse excitement for me.

The civil war setting is an interesting backdrop, however it basically becomes a reunion film; as the confederates are the heroes; yearning for a return to better days similar to films like The Littlest Rebel or even Birth of a Nation. This relation, and the imagery of the confederate flags waving in victory disgusts me to some extent and is difficult to overlook, especially given the subjective nature of film criticism.

Cops (Buster Keaton and Edward F. Cline, 1922)
Rating: 9.0

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