Julian Smith

Julian Smith is an award-winning nonfiction journalist specializing in history, science, and travel. His work appears in Smithsonian, Wired, Outside, National Geographic Traveler, and the Washington Post. His most recent book, Aloha Rodeo: Three Hawaiian Cowboys, the World's Greatest Rodeo, and a Hidden History of the American West, won the 2020 Oregon Book Award. He lives in Portland, Oregon with his family.

In what would be the most expensive scene in silent-film history, Buster Keaton constructed a bridge, set it afire, drove a steam train onto it—and then had everything collapse into a river 34 feet below. Keaton had only one chance to get the shot right, and he nailed it.

Buster Keaton’s Last Stand

Production for The General involved guns, bombs, fires, and the blowing up of a bridge in a tiny Oregon town. When the filming was over, the comedic legend’s career was in tatters. Forty years later, the movie was hailed as a masterpiece.


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