Though it runs only seventy-five minutes, it still seems remarkable that Buster Keaton’s fertile imagination is built upon short gags that pass by quickly—so quickly that it staggers the mind that anyone could come up with enough to flesh out seventy-five minutes. The gags themselves are gracefully athletic and come unexpectedly, given Keaton’s slight build and features that make him look old beyond his years. He plays a train engineer whose attempts to join the Confederate army are rebuffed (as are the affections of his beloved, believing him to be a coward) but who almost single-handedly manages to win a major battle by using his train to confound the Union army. There’s great attention paid to detail—quite a bit is happening both in the foreground and the background of the frame—and the jokes are both laugh-out-loud funny and amusingly ironic; but Keaton’s genius is his ability to isolate the individual within the crowd and draw out that individual’s endearing strengths—his connection with each member of the audience is subtle but sublime.