The General is a 1926 American silent comedy film released by United Artists. Inspired by the Great Locomotive Chase, which happened in 1862, the film stars Buster Keaton who co-directed it with Clyde Bruckman. It was adapted by Al Boasberg, Bruckman, Keaton, Paul Girard Smith (uncredited) and Charles Henry Smith (uncredited) from the memoir The Great Locomotive Chase by William Pittenger.
At the time of its initial release, The General, an action-adventure-comedy made toward the end of the silent era, wasn’t well received by critics or audiences, resulting in mediocre box office (about a half million dollars domestically, and approximately one million worldwide) but has since been reevaluated, and is now considered by critics as one of the greatest films ever made. However, because of its then-huge budget ($750,000 supplied by Metro chief Joseph Schenck) and failure to turn a significant profit, Keaton lost his independence as a filmmaker and was forced into a restrictive deal with MGM. In 1956, the film entered the public domain (in the USA) due to the claimant’s failure to renew its copyright registration in the 28th year after publication.
In 2007, The General was ranked #18 by the American Film Institute on their 10th Anniversary list of the 100 best American movies of all time.
Directed by Clyde Bruckman, Buster Keaton
Produced by Joseph Schenck, Buster Keaton
Screenplay by Al Boasberg, Clyde Bruckman, Buster Keaton
Based on The Great Locomotive Chase by William Pittenger
Starring Buster Keaton, Marion Mack
Music by Carl Davis
Cinematography Bert Haines, Devereaux Jennings
Edited by Buster Keaton, Sherman Kell
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates December 31, 1926
Running time 75 minutes
Country United States
Language Silent film