This 1922 feature from legendary team Buster Keaton and Edward F Cline sees Keaton in a remarkable departure from his usual hapless, Everyman-type roles. In The Frozen North a dark and dry parody of the serious, melodramatic films of the time Keaton is an out and out evil-doer (albeit an incompetent one). He robs a gambling house, shoots a man he suspects of making love to his wife and chases women, as well as all of the usual stunts that no Keaton film would be complete without. —Skyarts
Joseph Frank Keaton was born on October 4, 1895, to a pair of vaudeville performers. Spending his childhood on the road with his family, he earned the nickname Buster at the age of six months. By the age of three, the youngster was appearing as part of his parents act whenever they could evade child labor laws. In vaudeville, Keaton developed remarkable talents as an acrobatic comedian with a superb sense of timing, and became a rising star by his teens. In early 1917, Buster left his act with his parents, and appeared in a Broadway comic revue later that year, but the key to Keaton’s future came when he met a fellow vaudeville comedian. Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle was starring in a low-budget two-reel screen comedy, The Butcher Boy, and invited Keaton to play a small role in the picture. The two hit it off and became a successful onscreen team, starring in a long string of comic hits. Fascinated by the medium of film, Keaton soon began writing their pictures, and assisted in directing… read more
Entering films as one of Mack Sennett’s Keystone Cops in 1913, Cline began assisting Sennett and by 1916 was directing shorts at Keystone. In the early ‘20s he co-wrote and co-directed seventeen of Buster Keaton’s shorts, including such classics as The Playhouse, The Boat, and Cops, as well as Keaton’s first feature, the Intolerance-parody The Three Ages. Later in the decade he was reunited with Sennett when he directed two-reelers for such comics as Ben Turpin and Carole Lombard. In 1932 Cline directed W.C. Fields in the memorable satire Million Dollar Legs and became one of the few directors whom the irascible comedian could tolerate. Called in to helm most of Fields’ scenes in You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man (signed by George Marshall), Cline went on to direct the classic features that capped Fields’ career in the early ‘40s: My Little Chickadee (co-starring Mae West), The Bank Dick, and Never Give a Sucker an Even Break. Cline’s last important work was with Olsen and Johnson on Crazy… read more
Not for the first time Keaton uses a dream framework in this short which frees him up to be more surreal and inventive, not least in the scene where he impersonates von Stroheim. He also gets to be the villain for a change in what he admitted was a parody of William S. Hart westerns. Shot on location in a snowy landscape, this is far from being one of The Great Stone Face's best films but it's intriguing nonetheless.
Less strongly plotted than many of Keaton's shorts, this parody of Western melodramas still contains some hilarious moments, including what is possibly my favorite moment from his work - as Keaton catches his wife cheating with another man and guns them both down, only to casually realize it is neither his house nor his wife.