Buster Keaton And The General

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade September 2001

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Four years of age is very little for anyone to begin a career in acting on stage and screen. So why did buster Keaton do so? When Buster Keaton was only a few months old he used to stay back stage while his parents were performing on stage. On one unfortunate occasion, he was accidentally locked in a costume trunk and almost suffocated. This forced his parents into the decision to leave him in boarding houses wherever they moved around with the theatre. While residing in boarding houses he managed to break his finger in a clothes wringer, losing a joint in his right forefinger. He also managed to cut his head open, just above the eye, when a brick he had thrown at a peach tree rebounded back at him, hitting him in the head. Just before he turned four, he was sucked out of an upstairs window by a passing cyclone, which safely deposited him three blocks down the road.

After these unlikely and unfortunate occurrences, Keaton's parents decided it was safer to keep him on stage with them where they could constantly keep an eye on him.1 When "˜The General' (1926) was first introduced to audiences in the mid-Twenties, it was not considered a very popular film. Compared to Chaplin, and his films, it was not nearly as well appreciated. Now, however, three quarters of a century later, Buster Keaton's film The General is considered one of the greatest films ever made and Keaton himself considered one of the greatest film makers and film directors who ever lived. At first viewing, the film is not as funny as Keaton's other feature length films and is not as funny as some of his contemporary's films, yet when looking at The General in terms of film art, it...