Upon its release in 1926 Buster Keaton's The General was dismissed as a critical and commercial failure. Today it is considered not only one of the finest comedies of the silent era but one of the best films ever made.
Now this comedy classic about a Southern engineer whose train is stolen by Union spies screens on Sunday, September 16, 2012, at 1:30 p.m. at the Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St., as part of the Movies That Matter film series.
Introductory and closing remarks are provided by Robert W. Butler, for more than 40 years film critic of The Kansas City Star and now a member of the Library's Public Affairs Department.
Inspired by the actual Civil War hijacking of a Confederate train, Keaton took a grim yarn (the federals were captured and hanged) and turned it into a comic masterpiece. Now it's the story of Johnny Grey (played by Keaton in his usual deadpan fashion), who loses both of his great loves: his locomotive, called The General, and the woman he adores.
With nothing more than his own determination and ingenuity, the stoic Johnny takes off in pursuit.
Filled with inventive stunts involving men and huge machines and a visual style that recalls the Civil War photos of Matthew Brady, The General is a monumental film from a guy who denied that he was an artist, much less a genius.
But we know better.
Admission is free. RSVP online  or call 816.701.3407.
Other titles in the series:
September 30: The Seventh Seal (1957)
October 14: Rashomon (1950)
October 28: Nosferatu (1922)
November 4: Raging Bull (1980)
November 18: The Bicycle Thieves (1948)
December 2: The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
December 9: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1939)
January 6: The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
January 13: My Darling Clementine (1946)
January 27: Bringing Up Baby (1938)
February 10: All About Eve (1950)
February 25: Dr. Strangelove (1964)
March 10: The Circus (1928)
March 24: Rear Window (1954)
April 7: Wings of Desire (1987)
April 21: Singin' in the Rain (1952)
May 5: Sunset Boulevard (1950)
May 19: Metropolis (1927)