The General is far from fussy. Its principal comedy scene is built on that elementary bit, the chase, and you can’t continue a fight for almost an hour and expect results. Especially is this so when the action is placed entirely in the hands of the star. It was his story, he directed, and he acted. The result is a flop.
The story is a burlesque of a Civil War meller. Buster Keaton has the role of a youthful engineer on the Watern and Atlantic RR, running through Georgia, when war is declared. He tries to enlist, but is turned down, as it is figured that he would be of greater value to the cause as an engineer. His girl, however, won’t believe this, and tells him not to see her again until he is in a uniform.
The girl is on a visit to her dad when 10 Union daredevils steal the train in the middle of Confederate territory and start off with it, intending to burn all bridges behind them, so that the line of communication and supplies for the enemy shall be cut. The girl is on the train, and Keaton, sore because his beloved engine has been stolen, gives chase in another locomotive.
There are some corking gags in the picture, but as they are all a part of the chase they are overshadowed.