Its hard to believe that The General, now considered to be silent-film comic Buster Keatons finest effort, was a flop in its day. Defined throughout by the clever train chase that propels the choreographed flicks plot, its also the unconditionally perfect showcase for Keatons imperturbable, stoic style of comedy, which earned him the title of the Great Stone Face. As Confederate engineer Johnnie Gray, Keaton performs his own daring stunts (including jumping from train to train and running along the top of a car) and, in the end, gets the girl. But his first love, from start to finish, is clearly the General, his adored locomotive, an excellent foil for his special brand of physical comedy.
Though the art of joining that level of entertainment with a score to match is a whole other story, the locally based Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra has done its homework: The five-piece band, which has made a livelihood out of performing music for silent movies across the nation and even at the magnificent Graumans Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, will provide the aural backdrop for The General when the film screens today at 2 p.m. at the Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 South Allison Parkway in Lakewood. These guys dont miss a note. Admission is $14; for reservations and information, log on to www.lakewood.org or call 303-987-7845.
Sun., March 1, 2 p.m., 2009