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January 2018, arsenal cinema

Classics not only for children

THE GENERAL, 1926

Slapstick numbers and precisely timed gestures, mimicry and movements are not necessarily associated with improvisation - the theme of January’s Magical History Tour. Yet, the Marx Brothers, Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy and Buster Keaton are known for their love of improvisation in the rehearsal phase, as well as during shoots.

THE GENERAL (Clyde Bruckman, B. Keaton, USA 1926, 7., 14., 28.1.) Five screenwriters worked on the adaptation of the book that THE GENERAL is based upon. But Buster Keaton improvised various gags and details during the shoot itself. The result is a sometimes surreal civil war comedy about a locomotive driver (Keaton) who rescues not only his   adored Annabelle but also his beloved locomotive, "The General", from the enemy, completely underestimating the risks at hand. (mg)