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The Frozen North (1922)

 -  Short | Comedy  -  28 August 1922 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 1,010 users  
Reviews: 14 user | 7 critic

Buster plays a bumbling villain in this parody of melodrama.


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Title: The Frozen North (1922)

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Complete credited cast:
The Bad Man
Joe Roberts ...
The Driver
Sybil Seely ...
The Wife
Bonnie Hill ...
The Pretty Neighbor
Freeman Wood ...
The Neighbor's Husband
Edward F. Cline ...
The Janitor


This satirical parody of William S. Hart's melodramatic films finds Buster in the frozen north, "last stop on the subway." He uses a wanted poster as his partner in robbing a gambling house. When he thinks he spies his wife making love to another man he shoots them both only to learn it isn't his cabin after all. Written by Ed Stephan <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Short | Comedy


Unrated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

28 August 1922 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Frozen North  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Keaton actually satirizes two of his famous contemporaries in this short: William S. Hart, of course, but also 'Erich Von Stroheim'. Near the end of the film, his female "victim" briefly visualizes Keaton dressed in the kind of elaborate, middle-European dress uniform (complete with monocle) favored by Von Stroheim during his "man-you-love-to-hate" phase. See more »


Knife is pulled twice on The Bad Man in the fight at the end of the film. See more »


Referenced in Buster Keaton Rides Again (1965) See more »

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User Reviews

Buster plays the baddie
6 March 2006 | by (England) – See all my reviews

I seem to have enjoyed this film a great deal more than most of the other reviewers; perhaps context helps. In the darkness of a warm cinema on a bright frosty afternoon, surrounded by laughter from a full house of hundreds of people, from those too old to have hair to those too young to read, watching a pristine print on the big screen to the musical improvisation of one of the top silent film accompanists in the country, I found it absolutely hilarious, and Buster himself is obviously having a ball acting the villain for a change. All he lacks is a pair of mustachios to twirl.

You don't need to be familiar with specific target material to get the spoof -- at least, I wasn't. All you need is a passing acquaintance with the conventions of melodrama's modern descendant, the great British pantomime. Buster's incompetent dedication to his own ends and his domineering over his clumsy but loyal minion could be drawn straight from the seasonal boards of "Puss in Boots" or "Dick Whittington", as King Rat boasts and cowers; and his rolling tears and avid seduction wouldn't disgrace the false eyelashes of a Dame. Plus it's almost worth the price of admission alone to watch him launch a copybook Evil Snarl up at the outraged husband...

The setting of "The Frozen North" provides an almost inexhaustible series of sight gags, juxtaposing the icy surroundings with incongruous everyday objects -- the snow-carpet-beater in the igloo, the policeman's ski-mounted Harley-Davidson -- as well as the obvious slapstick opportunities afforded by deep snowdrifts, falls from the roof and frozen lakes. But there's plenty of Keaton's own unmistakable brand of surreal logic here as well, from the opening hold-up to the final shoot-out and its twist. Provided you're not completely affronted by the concept of watching Buster throw himself with zest into the role of "Curses! Foiled again" -- for back in 1922 he wasn't exclusively identified with the part of the underdog who wins through -- and provided you do realise that you're *supposed* to laugh at overacting, the film is brimful with hilarity.

Not what would later be thought of as typical for Buster Keaton, perhaps -- but nonetheless this picture bears the undeniable hallmarks of his authorship all over it, and is frequently extremely funny.

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