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The Man from Beyond (1922)

Not Rated | | Mystery | 2 April 1922 (USA)
A man who has been frozen in the Arctic ice for 100 years returns to civilization to find his lost love.

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Cast

Cast overview:
... Howard Hillary / The Man From Beyond
... Dr. Gilbert Trent
... Dr. Crawford Strange
Erwin Connelly ... Dr. Gregory Sinclair
... François Duval
... Captain of the Barkentine
Yale Benner ... Milt Norcross
Jane Connelly ... Felice Strange / Felice Norcross
... Marie Le Grande
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Storyline

The body of a man, Howard Hillary, frozen for a hundred years, is found in the Arctic ice. Thawed out and awakened, Hillary insists that a young woman, Felice, is his fiancée from a century before. Hillary is interned in a mental institution but escapes and realizes the truth of where he is and that Felice is actually the descendant of his own Felice from long ago. Hillary joins her in searching for her father, who has been abducted by someone known to them both. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

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Genres:

Mystery

Certificate:

Not Rated
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2 April 1922 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dødssejladsen  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Connections

Edited into Days of Thrills and Laughter (1961) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A fairly typical melodrama, with Houdini not at his best, but a few great moments
18 February 2014 | by See all my reviews

The Man from Beyond (1922)

Houdini has such legend around him, I went ahead with this fairly creaky silent film anyway. And it has some great aspects if you can go with the style.

The premise is simple—two men stuck in the arctic ice go looking for shelter and by a miracle stumble on an abandoned ship stuck in the ice for a century. And they find a man frozen in ice for the same 100 years—and wake him! Yes, and they by some snap of the fingers find their way back to New York, where the two men want to present their revived fellow to the world.

All of this is great fantasy stuff, almost like time-travel, with some action adventure tossed in. One of the two original lost men is a crazed scientist, the other a "half breed," and so things have to percolate of course. And the frozen man, now quite normal if a bit confused to be in 1920 instead of 1820, has to grapple with all the problems of being out of place. The theme that is forced on the film is reincarnation, and it's a bit stiff for modern tastes.

The filming is fairly straight forward, even compared to some better films from earlier (like, yes, "Birth of a Nation" which is 1915). The plot is often told with intertitles instead of action, out of necessity, but it slows it down. (One of the arts of silent films is how they learn to make clear the plot visually.)

Houdini plays the frozen man (no surprise there) and he falls in love with the wrong woman and generally makes a mess of things. Yet, love being what it is, things are not all bleak. It's a curious contrivance of events. And there are even flashbacks (some going back 100 years to when the man was last conscious). There are also different tints to different sections of the film, which is common for the time and effective.

Of course, the bottom line is whether to see this movie, and why. First of all, if you haven't seen silent films before, start with something great so you'll see what they are capable of. The terrific comics (Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd) are dependable. If you stretch back to 1922, there are more elegantly made movies from this time, for sure—check out D.W. Griffith.

But if you are Houdini fan, or you already know what silent movies are all about, this is a decent but not spectacular film. It feels too stiff too often, is wordy, and lacks a consistent trajectory for the plot. The storytelling is fairly complex, so you have to keep on your toes—which is good. It won't bore you for that reason.

You might get tired of the middle half, where the sparring for the woman in question is sometimes dull stuff. The Houdini part? Well, you'll see. There is one major "escape" shown, and there is a wonderful final long scene at Niagara falls, without intertitles, dramatic and fast paced.


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