A first kiss

I watched a Buster Keaton film featuring a locomotive in the title role as THE GENERAL. It’s the silent comedy whose civil war settings took Keaton way over budget, flopped and ruined his career. In the sixties the film was rediscovered and is now hailed as one of the ten greatest films of all ever.

In my favorite scene, Buster and his long-time enamorada, damsel in distress whom he has just rescued, are being chased by Union soldiers in another train. Buster asks her to help feed wood into the boiler while he works the controls. At first she complies but perhaps tiring thinks to make herself useful tidying instead. When Buster turns and sees her sweeping, he admonishes her that the fire must be tended. Thereupon she walks to the tender and meticuously carries a smallish branch of wood over to the boiler oven, while Buster watches quite incredulous. He interrupts her before she can fetch another load, pointing to a chip of wood on the floor which he takes up and hands to her. She takes it oblivious to his sarcasm, dutifully opens the oven door, tosses it inside, and closes the door again. Buster now leaps to her neck as if to throttle her, and begins to shake her wildly until suddenly he kisses her smack on the lips. Then they release each other and resume their train chase.

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