Thursday, February 05, 2009

The General

I donate platelets today. This time, rather than watching one of their movies I brought my own. I've had "The General", the well-regarded 1927 Buster Keaton movie, out from Netflix for a couple of weeks, but I hadn't found time to watch it because, as a silent movie I figured I would need to give it my full attention (as opposed to a "talkie" where the sound can help you keep up with the story). So I figured watching it while donating platelets was perfect.

It wasn't quite what I expected. I expected it to be funnier, with more really outrageous physical comedy. It did have quite a bit, but I guess I'm so used to the really over the top physical comedy of more recent fair that the more restrained and realistic physical stunts of "The General" took awhile to get into. But once I got over that and started to really enjoy Keaton's amazing expressiveness I really enjoyed it. My suggestion if you happen to decide to watch it go into it with the attitude that it's a classic, and not a comedy.

One scene in particular killed me. (Minor spoiler) He's rescued the girl and he's racing back towards safety and while he operates the engine he has the girl adding wood to the boiler so that they can stay ahead of their pursuers. As she's doing that she notices that the cabin is untidy and she starts sweeping. It takes him a second to notice, so intent is he on the the following train. Obviously he's a little upset and he throws the broom over the side of the train and tells her to keep putting wood in. So she picks up a stick maybe 2 inches in diameter and maybe a couple of feet long, more of a twig, really. Opens up the boiler and tosses it in. At this point he's at a loss and he bends down a picks up a large splinter, the size of couple of toothpicks. She looks at it, like "great idea" and tosses it in as well. At that point he loses it and sort of throttles her, then in the fashion of Bruce Willis in Pulp Fiction he realize there's really no point and kisses her. The toothpick part was particularly funny.

#130 on IMDB above "The Sixth Sense" but below "Die Hard"


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