Keaton's addiction to his scrupulously well-made plots grew out of his awareness that the most astonishing comic invention demands the most conventional of dramatic contexts. But as this awareness apparently intensified over the years, it also began to threaten to limit his work. In Seven Chances (1925) and Battling Butler (1926) the plot exacts too much of our attention, repeatedly subduing Buster to its complex needs, cheating us of occasions to watch the Keaton body at work. (p. 244)
In The General (1926) Keaton has conquered the problem with a success no one could have anticipated. Here the plot attains a Euclidean harmony of shape even as it forces its protagonist again and...
(The entire section is 899 words.)