The General, “Perhaps the Greatest Film Ever Made,” and 20 Other Buster Keaton Classics Free Online

What motion pic­ture did no less an auteur than Orson Welles call “the great­est com­e­dy ever made, the great­est Civ­il War film ever made, and per­haps the great­est film ever made”? Why, Joseph Frank “Buster” Keaton’s 1926 The Gen­er­al, unsung in its day but heaped with crit­i­cal acclaim ever since. The Gen­er­al, as Roger Ebert describes it, “is an epic of silent com­e­dy, one of the most expen­sive films of its time, includ­ing an accu­rate his­tor­i­cal recre­ation of a Civ­il War episode, hun­dreds of extras, dan­ger­ous stunt sequences, and an actu­al loco­mo­tive falling from a burn­ing bridge into a gorge far below.” This and all of Keaton’s movies, Ebert adds, show­case “a grace­ful per­fec­tion, such a mesh­ing of sto­ry, char­ac­ter and episode, that they unfold like music.”

You can watch The Gen­er­al online right above. If you then find your­self moved to take in more of Keaton’s fil­mog­ra­phy, have a look at this list of his freely view­able pic­tures help­ful­ly com­piled by MUBI. Its still-active links include all of the fol­low­ing movies:

They also pro­vide a list of avail­able films Keaton made in col­lab­o­ra­tion with his fel­low silent star and men­tor Roscoe “Fat­ty” Arbuck­le:

These 21 films will give you a thor­ough primer on the joy of silent com­e­dy as per­fect­ed by Buster Keaton, in Ebert’s words “not the Great Stone Face so much as a man who kept his com­po­sure in the cen­ter of chaos. Oth­er silent actors might mug to get a point across, but Keaton remained obser­vant and col­lect­ed. That’s one rea­son his best movies have aged bet­ter than those of his rival, Char­lie Chap­lin. He seems like a mod­ern vis­i­tor to the world of the silent clowns.”

We will add a num­ber of these films to our col­lec­tion of 500+ Free Movies Online.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Pow­er of Silent Movies, with The Artist Direc­tor Michel Haz­anavi­cius

Hol­ly­wood, Epic Doc­u­men­tary Chron­i­cles the Ear­ly His­to­ry of Cin­e­ma

535 Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, etc.

25 Free Char­lie Chap­lin Films Online

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on lit­er­a­ture, film, cities, Asia, and aes­thet­ics. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­lesA Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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Comments (5)
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  • Steve Reilly says:

    Thanks for the links! By the way, Sher­lock Jr. is also on YouTube.

  • Roger Brough says:

    Day Off dis­cov­ery.

    As soon as you see the words “Anabelle Lee,” hit ‘play’ on Jethro Tul­l’s album “Aqualung.” Lis­ten and watch. Wow. Thanks “Open Cul­ture” for mak­ing this a great Fri­day!

  • Steve Bailey says:

    Only a hand­ful of these post­ed movies are legit­i­mate­ly pub­lic domain and can be legal­ly viewed for free online. The Inter­net Archive is doing the pub­lic a huge dis­fa­vor by non­cha­lant­ly and ille­gal­ly post­ing copy­right­ed ver­sions of these movies! For more info on this, vis­it my Buster Keaton web­site at:

  • benz says:

    I like to watch movies of Buster Keaton a lot. It is real­ly good news for movie lovers like me that his movies are avail­able online. I will def­i­nite­ly watch all of them one by one. Besides, Buster Keaton movies, I am great fond of Chi­nese movies and dra­mas as well. Chi­nese movies have all emo­tions and actions that a movie should have. For watch­ing free Chi­nese movies online, you may refer this source-

  • online stream movies says:

    It is a very hit play. it is so much attrac­tive. one can get so much from this movie.

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