Quiz about The General
Quiz about The General

The General Trivia Quiz


Buster Keaton considered his 1926 film, "The General", to be his best. Many critics and fans agree. Let's have a look!

A multiple-choice quiz by ubermom. Estimated time: 8 mins.
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Author
ubermom
Time
8 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
318,965
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
15
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
9 / 15
Plays
187
This quiz has 2 formats: you can play it as a or as shown below.
Scroll down to the bottom for the answer key.
1. Keaton got the idea for "The General" from a book, "The Great Locomotive Chase" -- a true tale of the Civil War involving Union spies stealing a train and fleeing north to disrupt communications and supply lines. Keaton made the protagonist a southern engineer -- Johnnie Gray. We see him come into town at the throttle of his beloved locomotive, the General. Johnnie leaves the one love of his life to visit the other -- Annabelle. Once they're alone he gives her a gift. What is it? Hint

A ring
A picture of himself with the General
A book
A locket

2. Annabelle's brother arrives with the news that Ft. Sumter has been fired upon. He and his father hurry off to enlist. Johnnie, in his eagerness to impress Annabelle, rushes off as well, scrambling to arrive first in line. But he's rejected by the recruiter. Why? Hint

He's of more value to the South as a railroad engineer.
He injured himself in his rush to get to the recruiting office.
He's too short.
He's a Yankee by birth.

3. A year passes. A lonesome, dejected Johnnie goes about his work. He watches sadly as Annabelle snubs him and boards the train. But Union spies steal the train during a meal stop, inadvertently kidnapping Annabelle, who is in a boxcar to retrieve something from her trunk. Why is she making the rail journey in the first place? Hint

To evacuate ahead of an anticipated Union occupation
To visit her wounded father
To go care for wounded soldiers at a hospital camp
To stay with her aunt, since her father and brother are away at war

4. Why is Johnnie alone in chasing the General when it's stolen? Hint

The other men were eating dinner and didn't notice the theft of the train.
He was the only man aboard who wasn't a Union spy.
The other men think it makes more sense to telegraph ahead.
The others fall behind, one by one, through mishaps.

5. Johnnie manages to get another train -- the Texas -- to continue the pursuit, but he also manages to lose the flatcar of Confederate soldiers who were to join him. He stops to hook up a cannon, but his attempts to use it nearly get him killed. The first shot doesn't have enough powder and just launches the cannonball into the cab of the train. Johnnie makes sure he has plenty of powder for the next shot. What goes wrong? Hint

He accidentally uncouples the cannon from the train.
He gets his foot caught and almost gets yanked off the train.
The cannon bounces and ends up pointing straight at him.
All of these.

6. The Union spies, thinking that they're being chased by a group of well-armed soldiers, try to hinder the pursuit by uncoupling a boxcar. Johnnie, calmly picking splinters out of his hands as he rides atop the cowcatcher, spots the boxcar and scrambles to deal with the problem by shunting the boxcar onto a siding. The trouble is that, from Johnnie's perspective, the troublesome boxcar inexplicably reappears then disappears. Why is Johnnie so flummoxed by the boxcar? Hint

He doesn't realize it's actually several boxcars that the Union spies uncoupled in succession.
All of these.
The Union spies had left a man on the boxcar so he could control what it did.
He's tending the fire and thus isn't watching when crucial events are happening.

7. Johnny had been pursuing the General in the Texas, but he ditches the train and makes off into the woods. Why does he abandon the Texas? Hint

He ends up behind enemy lines with the spies aware that he's alone.
The boiler overheats and blows.
He runs out of fuel.
He can sneak closer to the General on foot.

8. Caught in a rainstorm, cold, wet, hungry, miserable, and alone, Johnnie sneaks into a house occupied by Union officers. As he's stealing food, the officers approach, and Johnnie's exit is blocked. Where does he hide? Hint

In a cupboard
In a barrel
Under the table
Behind a curtain

9. From his hiding place, Johnnie is shocked to hear a familiar voice. The spies have brought Annabelle Lee to the house and locked her away. As the Union men settle down for the night, Johnnie steals a uniform and helps Annabelle escape. Johnnie has three goals now -- to get his beloved General back, to warn the Confederate Army of a planned attack, and to get Annabelle to safety. He can accomplish them all if only he can get himself and Annabelle aboard the General. What's his plan? Hint

For the two of them to wait for a chance to sneak on board together
To rush the two soldiers who are guarding the train
To disguise Annabelle as a Union solder so they can board the train openly
To hide Annabelle in a sack and load her in a boxcar, then steal the train

10. Once Johnnie gets the General back from the Union spies, what's his first order of business? Hint

Seeing to Annabelle's well-being
Changing out of the stolen Union uniform
Tying up an unconscious Union officer
Pulling down the telegraph line

11. Johnnie pushes to full throttle to evade the pursuing Union train. Soon he needs more fuel. Johnnie brings the General to a stop by a split-rail fence and starts rather ineffectually trying to load the timbers. Annabelle, meantime, is far from idle. What does she do? Hint

She runs a rope across the track behind the General, between two little pine trees.
She piles rocks on the tracks behind the General.
She rubs grease on the rails behind the General.
She uproots a bunch of weeds and puts them on the tracks behind the General.

12. Annabelle's efforts manage to slow down the pursuit. Johnnie also has a few tricks up his sleeve. He knocks the back wall of the boxcar off and starts tossing crates and barrels onto the tracks, he uncouples the boxcar, and he sabotages the switching on the tracks. But he's so busy stalling his pursuers that he forgets one very important thing. What is it? Hint

He never did get enough firewood to fuel the engine.
There's an armed Union officer lying in the tender.
He didn't get water for the boiler.
He's heading into Confederate territory wearing a Union uniform.

13. With Annabelle at the throttle, Johnnie does a couple of things that don't make sense at first. He sticks an uncut piece of fence rail into the fire box, and he makes his way to the front of the engine to fetch the lamp. But we quickly see what he's up to: He's going to set a fire on the Rock River Bridge to prevent the Union supply trains from crossing. Annabelle helps Johnnie by tossing him firewood, but she also bungles things. What does she do that endangers Johnnie? Hint

She backs the train into the fire instead of pulling it forward.
She prematurely knocks the burning brand onto the bridge.
She knocks a large piece of wood off the tender, nearly braining Johnny with it.
She throws wild, and Johnnie almost falls off the bridge dodging a throw.

14. With the Rock River Bridge burning, Johnnie and Annabelle Lee speed into the Confederate camp and warn them of the impending attack. Johnnie buckles on a sword and rushes off to battle. The burning bridge collapses spectacularly under the Union train, but the Union soldiers advance anyway, fording the river. After a series of mishaps, Johnnie manages to blow a dam and flood the river. The Union retreats. The Confederates march back to camp, and Johnnie goes back to his General. There it is brought home to him that he'd forgotten something. What? Hint

The water level
Annabelle
The unconscious Union officer
The brake

15. For his bravery and resourcefulness, Johnnie is rewarded with a commission as a lieutenant. Now he has but one more goal, which he pursues as doggedly as any goal he sets. What is Johnnie's last achievement of the film? Hint

He kisses Annabelle.
He takes the General to the train shed.
He gets permission to marry Annabelle.
He gets a sword belt that fits him.


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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. Keaton got the idea for "The General" from a book, "The Great Locomotive Chase" -- a true tale of the Civil War involving Union spies stealing a train and fleeing north to disrupt communications and supply lines. Keaton made the protagonist a southern engineer -- Johnnie Gray. We see him come into town at the throttle of his beloved locomotive, the General. Johnnie leaves the one love of his life to visit the other -- Annabelle. Once they're alone he gives her a gift. What is it?

Answer: A picture of himself with the General

Johnnie clearly dotes on the General, and takes pride in running his train on time. And he has admiring little boys following him right into Annabelle's house.

Some Keaton fans believe that the scene in which Johnnie gives Annabelle the photo is so that a later scene can reference "The Coward" (1915) -- in which the protagonist's father, upon learning that his son didn't enlist, throws the disappointing offspring's photo away.

Buster Keaton grew his hair long for his role as Johnnie Gray, and in the first part of the film wears trousers that actually fit him, rather than his traditional baggy pants. He was reaching for historical accuracy, and achieved it to the point where many critics compare his work to Matthew Brady photographs. He and his film crew pretty much took over the tiny town of Cottage Grove, Oregon, where the narrow-gauge rail lines needed for the film were still in place. There, Keaton's crew set up facades based on Civil War era engravings. The main shortcoming as far as accuracy is that all of the Confederate soldiers had matching uniform trousers -- and had shoes to wear.
2. Annabelle's brother arrives with the news that Ft. Sumter has been fired upon. He and his father hurry off to enlist. Johnnie, in his eagerness to impress Annabelle, rushes off as well, scrambling to arrive first in line. But he's rejected by the recruiter. Why?

Answer: He's of more value to the South as a railroad engineer.

Nobody tells Johnnie why he's being rejected. He compares himself to other recruits, finds himself not at all wanting, and tries again. He even steals another man's enlistment paper, and gets booted out of the office for his troubles. Annabelle's brother and father, unaware of all this, invite him to join them in line, but Johnnie, humiliated and demoralized, rubs his sore bottom, shakes his head, and walks off.

When Annabelle learns that Johnnie didn't enlist, she dumps him. Rejected not only by the Confederate army but also by his girl, a disconsolate Johnnie sits on the drive rod of his engine. Here we see a subtle but very dangerous stunt as the fireman starts the engine and rides to the shed with Buster atop the drive rod. Early steam engines were notoriously difficult to start smoothly, and it was only after a few successful dry runs that the engineer, playing the fireman, agreed to start the engine with Keaton seated on his risky perch.

The recruiting office scene was possibly inspired by the recruiting office scene in "The Coward".
3. A year passes. A lonesome, dejected Johnnie goes about his work. He watches sadly as Annabelle snubs him and boards the train. But Union spies steal the train during a meal stop, inadvertently kidnapping Annabelle, who is in a boxcar to retrieve something from her trunk. Why is she making the rail journey in the first place?

Answer: To visit her wounded father

Annabelle Lee makes a point of fussing over her wounded brother's medals when she sees Johnnie watching her from a distance. Keaton had added the character of Annabelle to create a double love story -- love for a woman and not just for his train -- that would further drive the main character and heighten the suspense of the chase.

The website, "The Great Locomotive Chase", tells more of the actual trains used in the Union raid and the Confederate pursuit, and has this to say about the engine Keaton used as his General:

"Buster's General was built in 1886 and was in lumber hauling operations when he hired it to portray its famous ancestor. Changes in the locomotive prior to filming included the addition of the big box headlight, a backdated whistle, a false plate between the drive wheels to hide the modern air brakes, and the appropriate name boards."
4. Why is Johnnie alone in chasing the General when it's stolen?

Answer: The other men think it makes more sense to telegraph ahead.

Of course the attempt to telegraph for help is fruitless, since the first thing the Union spies do when they get clear of town is cut the telegraph wires.

In the real story, it was many men who chased the stolen General, but Keaton pared it down to one man fighting to get back the two loves of his life.
5. Johnnie manages to get another train -- the Texas -- to continue the pursuit, but he also manages to lose the flatcar of Confederate soldiers who were to join him. He stops to hook up a cannon, but his attempts to use it nearly get him killed. The first shot doesn't have enough powder and just launches the cannonball into the cab of the train. Johnnie makes sure he has plenty of powder for the next shot. What goes wrong?

Answer: All of these.

Johnnie had chased the General on foot, by handcar, and on a wooden penny farthing bicycle before finally getting hold of the Texas.

As Johnnie leaps from the cannon to the tender, he catches his foot in the coupling, which comes undone and nearly pulls him off the train. As he shakes free, the coupling falls onto the ties and bounces the cannon, lowering the muzzle until it's pointed straight at the tender. Johnnie catches his foot on a chain as he climbs the tender. Finally free, he lobs a chunk of wood fruitlessly at the cannon and finally clambers to the cowcatcher as the train speeds along. Fortunately, the rails curve, and the cannon ends up nearly shooting the last car on the stolen train, and Johnnie is unscathed.

The website, "The Great Locomotive Chase", notes that "During the original chase in 1862, the Texas operated in reverse, and both locomotives at one time or another reached the then unheard of speed of 60 miles an hour!"
6. The Union spies, thinking that they're being chased by a group of well-armed soldiers, try to hinder the pursuit by uncoupling a boxcar. Johnnie, calmly picking splinters out of his hands as he rides atop the cowcatcher, spots the boxcar and scrambles to deal with the problem by shunting the boxcar onto a siding. The trouble is that, from Johnnie's perspective, the troublesome boxcar inexplicably reappears then disappears. Why is Johnnie so flummoxed by the boxcar?

Answer: He's tending the fire and thus isn't watching when crucial events are happening.

First the boxcar's momentum carries it down the siding to where it's shunted onto the track, back in front of the Texas. Johnnie spots it, does a slow double-take, then accepts that he has to deal with it again. He returns to tending the fire, only to have the boxcar derail and thus vanish. This gets a long, slow-motion blink from a bewildered Johnnie.
7. Johnny had been pursuing the General in the Texas, but he ditches the train and makes off into the woods. Why does he abandon the Texas?

Answer: He ends up behind enemy lines with the spies aware that he's alone.

Johnny passes both the retreating Confederate army and the advancing Union army as he's chopping firewood. He realizes he's behind enemy lines, but continues the pursuit -- for a while. The Union spies drop railroad ties on the Texas as it come along under a trestle they're atop.

Their chief realizes that there's only one man aboard the pursuing train. Johnnie, seeing that the spies have spotted him, quickly stops the Texas so he can scramble off and hide.
8. Caught in a rainstorm, cold, wet, hungry, miserable, and alone, Johnnie sneaks into a house occupied by Union officers. As he's stealing food, the officers approach, and Johnnie's exit is blocked. Where does he hide?

Answer: Under the table

With his tousled wet curls, and his large expressive eyes luminous in the dark, Johnnie is beautiful as he hides behind the tablecloth, listening to the enemy plans and getting boots stuck in his face. Buster's father, Joe Keaton, plays one of the officers seated at the table.

As Joe's character and another officer turn to speak to one another, the other officer burns a hole in the tablecloth with his cigar -- singeing poor Johnnie's elbow while he's at it.
9. From his hiding place, Johnnie is shocked to hear a familiar voice. The spies have brought Annabelle Lee to the house and locked her away. As the Union men settle down for the night, Johnnie steals a uniform and helps Annabelle escape. Johnnie has three goals now -- to get his beloved General back, to warn the Confederate Army of a planned attack, and to get Annabelle to safety. He can accomplish them all if only he can get himself and Annabelle aboard the General. What's his plan?

Answer: To hide Annabelle in a sack and load her in a boxcar, then steal the train

It's a clever and funny sequence, involving scoping out the enemy camp, stealing a sack full of shoes, and getting the sacked-up Annabelle to where she can pull the coupling pin between the first boxcar and the rest of the train. After loading Annabelle -- and watching in horror as other men toss a heavy box in after her -- Johnnie grabs a piece of firewood, moves through the queue of men onto the tender, and seizes his train.
10. Once Johnnie gets the General back from the Union spies, what's his first order of business?

Answer: Pulling down the telegraph line

The chase south is a mirror of the chase north. Just as the Union spies stopped right away to cut the telegraph lines, Johnnie stops at his first opportunity to disrupt enemy communications. Only after he's done this and set the train in motion again does he hack his way into the boxcar and free Annabelle from her hiding place.

Other than getting Annabelle out of the box car -- none too gently -- Johnnie doesn't seem very concerned with her comfort or well-being. In fact, from the moment he gets the idea to stuff her in a sack, she's manhandled, roughed up, and subjected to quite a bit of abuse, all of which she endures patiently, while striving to be as big a help to Johnnie as she can. But for all her eagerness to help, Annabelle does have a bit of a dumb streak. The first thing she does when Johnnie dumps her out of the sack is offer him the coupling pin, which she's been holding on to all this time.

Johnny pretty much ignores the unconscious officer as well as the fact that he's wearing a Union uniform. He's focused on his goal -- to get to Confederate headquarters.
11. Johnnie pushes to full throttle to evade the pursuing Union train. Soon he needs more fuel. Johnnie brings the General to a stop by a split-rail fence and starts rather ineffectually trying to load the timbers. Annabelle, meantime, is far from idle. What does she do?

Answer: She runs a rope across the track behind the General, between two little pine trees.

Johnnie almost leaves without Annabelle, since she set off on her task quite independently. When he goes back for her, she shows off her handiwork proudly. Johnnie looks more disgusted than impressed. But they have no time to discuss the relative merits of Annabelle's plan. The pursuing Union train is bearing down on them. They scramble aboard and take off.
12. Annabelle's efforts manage to slow down the pursuit. Johnnie also has a few tricks up his sleeve. He knocks the back wall of the boxcar off and starts tossing crates and barrels onto the tracks, he uncouples the boxcar, and he sabotages the switching on the tracks. But he's so busy stalling his pursuers that he forgets one very important thing. What is it?

Answer: He's heading into Confederate territory wearing a Union uniform.

Johnnie doesn't forget about the Union officer. When the man starts to wake up, Johnnie beans him again and takes his sidearm. And Johnnie has enough water and firewood to get the General back to Southern lines. But when he passes the first Confederate sentry, Johnnie waves and calls out to him, and gets shot at in return.

He hunkers down in the cab with Annabelle, wide-eyed and bewildered until she points out that he's disguised as a Union soldier. Fortunately, the Union officer who'd stolen the General had left his Confederate disguise in the cab. Johnnie changes uniforms quickly.
13. With Annabelle at the throttle, Johnnie does a couple of things that don't make sense at first. He sticks an uncut piece of fence rail into the fire box, and he makes his way to the front of the engine to fetch the lamp. But we quickly see what he's up to: He's going to set a fire on the Rock River Bridge to prevent the Union supply trains from crossing. Annabelle helps Johnnie by tossing him firewood, but she also bungles things. What does she do that endangers Johnnie?

Answer: She prematurely knocks the burning brand onto the bridge.

You could blame Johnnie just as much, for leaving the burning brand so precariously balanced on the end of the tender, and for dousing the wood with fuel when it's between him and the train. But regardless of whose fault it is, Johnnie ends up on the high bridge with a smoking fire between him and the General. Annabelle moves the train out of the way to give Johnnie room to jump over the fire.

He makes the jump -- and falls through a gap in the bridge into the river below. Another series of gags gets him back aboard the General.
14. With the Rock River Bridge burning, Johnnie and Annabelle Lee speed into the Confederate camp and warn them of the impending attack. Johnnie buckles on a sword and rushes off to battle. The burning bridge collapses spectacularly under the Union train, but the Union soldiers advance anyway, fording the river. After a series of mishaps, Johnnie manages to blow a dam and flood the river. The Union retreats. The Confederates march back to camp, and Johnnie goes back to his General. There it is brought home to him that he'd forgotten something. What?

Answer: The unconscious Union officer

Johnnie steps into the cab of the General and is startled to find the officer, who is just regaining consciousness. He takes the officer prisoner in a very courteous, understated, and charming manner.

The collapse of the bridge -- complete with a real, functioning narrow-gauge locomotive -- was, at $42,000, the single most expensive shot ever done in a silent film. Keaton's technical director, Fred Gabourie, supervised the building of the bridge, and Keaton hired a demolition expert to see to it that it was rigged to hold when necessary, and collapse on cue. He had one bridge and only one train slated for the riverbed, and three cameras rolling to capture the whole thing. There was going to be no chance at a second take.
15. For his bravery and resourcefulness, Johnnie is rewarded with a commission as a lieutenant. Now he has but one more goal, which he pursues as doggedly as any goal he sets. What is Johnnie's last achievement of the film?

Answer: He kisses Annabelle.

Johnnie has truly shown what he's made of. He's recovered his train, rescued the girl, thwarted the enemy plans and routed its army, and captured an enemy officer. He has proven himself, not least of all to Annabelle. Now, to kiss his girl. But first he must get away from the watchful eyes of the clerk.

Johnnie takes Annabelle to the General and seats her gently on the drive rod. But just as the new lieutenant is about to get his kiss, a soldier walks by and salutes. The kiss is aborted as Johnnie returns the salute. Again he leans in for a kiss; again he is thwarted by the need to return a salute. Then the whole division turns out. Johnnie thinks with Buster's practical, mechanical mind. He switches places with Annabelle, takes her face in his hand, and presses his mouth over hers -- leaving his right hand free now to return salutes without interrupting his kiss. The end.
Source: Author ubermom

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