Buster Keaton, The General, and Animal House?

General_Slideshow-1_Page_06As shown in this previous post describing how Buster Keaton filmed The General in Cottage Grove, Oregon, Buster and crew stayed at the Bartell Hotel during the production, staged the summer of 1926. The hotel stands just a block or two west from where most the filming took place.

But the hotel, later re-named the Cottage Grove Hotel, has another claim to classic comedy fame. The hotel appears during the homecoming parade finale to the 1978 comedy Animal House. When “Stork” (played by the film’s co-screenwriter Douglas Kenney) diverts the marching band into a dead-end alley before the Delta House wrecks havoc on the parade, you can clearly see the Cottage Grove Hotel awning in the background.

Looking east down Main Street towards the Cottage Grove Hotel.

Click to enlarge – looking east down Main Street towards the Cottage Grove Hotel.

Click to enlarge - Stork begins to divert the band.

Click to enlarge – Stork begins to divert the band.

Both The General and Animal House have been inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress as works of enduring importance to American culture; Buster in 1989, and The National Lampoon comedy in 2001.

This brief video hosted by A.M.P.A.S. from a talk I gave in 2011 further explains how Buster filmed The General in Cottage Grove.  You can read all about filming The General in my Keaton film locations book Silent Echoes.

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3 Responses to Buster Keaton, The General, and Animal House?

  1. Javi Mulero says:

    GREAT stuff and great catch, John! Let the National Film Registry know that fact (that the Hotel appears in both films!). Also, let the Oregon Film Commission know this interesting Historical fact!

  2. Rhys Davies says:

    As someone who just discovered this website I’ve got to say thanks for meticulously researching the filming of Keaton’s masterpiece. Being from the UK I’ve been unable to visit Oregon myself, but looking on Google Earth I’ve been able to use your work to match up most of the filming locations. I did however have a question. Where exactly in Culp Creek was the Rock River Bridge constructed? Searching the internet I’ve seen a number of conflicting accounts, but the general consensus suggests it was downstream of the current town, adjacent to the former Culp Creek Mill. Is this correct?

    I also have another question (well, not so much a question as a search for clarification). Approximately 31 minutes into the film (the climax of the northbound chase) the General, under the control of Captain Anderson, passes under a substantial trestle bridge, before looping around to come to a halt atop said trestle. They then use this elevated position to pelt Buster’s persuing Texas with firewood as he passes beneath them. My question is, where was this filmed? I can’t find any maps of the Oregon & Pacific Railroad showing such a spiral loop, and it seems like a very subtantial structure (far bigger than the already expensive Rock River Bridge) to have been built solely for filming. There is however a very convincing story on Trestlewalker.com and Bridgehunter.com that it was on a logging railroad operated by the Willamette Valley Lumber company near Black Rock, Oregon. Williamette lumber was owned by a fellow named George Gerlinger, and it was Gerlinger’s workshops at nearby Dallas, Polk County, to which Keaton (allegedly) sent the locomotives to be modified for filming. This all serves as great anecdotal evidence, but is there any way of confirming it?

    https://bridgehunter.com/or/lane/the-general/ (includes a picture of said trestle)

    http://www.trestlewalker.com/WVLCO.html

    Cheers, and thanks for your time!

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