When Buster's Classic Was New
1927 Broadway Sees The General
Surely a better researcher than me has dug up the following, but in case they haven't, here goes. Looking into The Red Mill this week also revealed The General on Broadway first-run. The Capital, normally a Metro flagship, was host. We know the Keaton masterpiece got chilly reception when new. " ... Good, but no amusing" amid "repetitious incident" were stingers applied, worst complaint that The General was "more melodramatic than amusing," which admittedly, some would say today. Fact is, I regard The General as more action adventure than comedy, plenty OK because chances are Keaton had that very intent (this more/less repeat of idea expressed with regard Our Hospitality a few weeks back). The Capital had recently come off four week smash that was Flesh and The Devil. The General's invite was for but a single frame, during which it "did not hit (the) Broadway public particularly hard" (Variety) with final count of $50,992, a number that might get by in a theatre without 5,450 seats as had the Capital. Not that The Red Mill sold much better the next week, Motion Picture News estimating but $55K for Marion Davies' starrer. So what live accompany did the Capital offer with The General? "An elaborate ballet entitled "Milady's Boudoir" and devised by Chester Hale, is the principal attraction," along with Hosmer's "Northern Rhapsody" and mezzo soprano Celia Turrill, who performed Grieg's "Solveig's Song." Not a sort of context we're used to when watching The General on Blu-Ray or stream-wise, proof again that classics in their day, and first-run habitat, were very different from how we've experienced them since.
More of The General at Greenbriar Archive, Eighty Years Since The General, and Lloyd and Keaton Make The Trades In 1926.