FROZEN NORTH, THE (director/writer: Buster Keaton/Edward F. Cline; cinematographer: Elgin Lessley; cast: Buster Keaton (The Bad Man), Joe Roberts (The Driver), Sybil Seely (Wife), Bonnie Hill (The Pretty Neighbor), Freeman Wood (Her Husband), Edward F. Cline (The Janitor); Runtime: 17; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Joseph M. Schenck; Kino; 1922-silent)
“It satirizes William S. Hart Westerns.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A weak Buster Keaton short that uses a dream framework for the narrative. The concluding scene has Buster awakened in a movie theater by the usher. It satirizes William S. Hart Westerns, the most popular of the silent screen cowboy heroes. The comedian gets to Hart’s hammy acting and penchant for crying on cue in front of the camera. Too bad it’s not universally funny, except in spots.
Noted for the surreal opening scene, where Buster exits the last stop of a subway station to find himself in the middle of a frozen north snowy landscape. It’s also noted for the many dark episodic scenes, where Keaton goes against type by being a bad guy: such as, a stickup man (holding up a gambling bar in a novel way with a cut-out cowboy pointing a gun while propped up against the window, as Buster passes the hat around the bar to collect the patrons’ loot), a bully, a seducer and a killer (plugging a couple kissing because he mistakenly thinks it’s his wife).
REVIEWED ON 10/26/2011 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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