The shot from the 1926 Buster Keaton movie The General has been called the most expensive of the silent era, with a price tag of $42,000 or $570,000 in 2016 dollars.
The General is a 1926 American silent comedy film released by United Artists. Inspired by the Great Locomotive Chase, which happened in 1862, the film stars Buster Keaton who co-directed it with Clyde Bruckman. It was adapted by Al Boasberg, Bruckman, Keaton, Paul Girard Smith and Charles Henry Smith from the memoir The Great Locomotive Chase by William Pittenger.
At the time of its initial release, The General, an action-adventure-comedy made toward the end of the silent era, wasn’t well received by critics and audiences, resulting in mediocre box office returns (about a half million dollars domestically, and approximately one million worldwide). Because of its then-huge budget ($750,000 supplied by Metro chief Joseph Schenck) and failure to turn a significant profit, Keaton lost his independence as a filmmaker and was forced into a restrictive deal with MGM. In 1954, the film entered the public domain (in the USA) due to the claimant’s failure to renew its copyright registration in the 28th year after publication.
The film has been reevaluated, and is now considered by critics as one of the greatest films ever made. In 2007, The General was ranked #18 by the American Film Institute on their 10th Anniversary list of the 100 best American movies of all time.