Plot: A bad man (Buster Keaton) tries to hold up a saloon with the help of a cardboard cutout, only to be foiled when the flimsy plan falls apart. He makes an escape and thinks he is in the clear, only to return home to a real surprise. As he walks in on his wife in the arms of another man, he opens fire to settle the score, only to discover that it wasn’t his wife, nor even his house. This is just the start of his woes, as he runs into one situation after another, each filled with chaos. He tries to make a go of things in the frozen conditions of the north, but of course, things are never as they seem, even when it looks like the end is near.
Entertainment Value: This is a fun one, as we have Buster Keaton as a villain, albeit a hapless and hilarious villain. The short is still pure Keaton however, often brilliant and always humorous slapstick. I love some of the set pieces in The Frozen North, especially the robbery in which Keaton uses the poster of an outlaw to assist in the heist. That scene is simply hilarious and Keaton makes the most of the potential, just a fantastic scene that stuck with me long after the short ended. Keaton is clearly having a lot of fun being more on the villainous side of things, which adds some fresh energies to his performance, even if it remains rooted in his usual style. I’ve read this is a satire of specific melodramas, but I wasn’t familiar with that material and still had immense fun here, so you don’t need to know the references in this case. Perhaps a revisit after learning about the source would yield even more entertainment, who knows. I had a great time with The Frozen North, so I can recommend it to anyone who appreciates classic comedies or the sheer cinematic genius of Buster Keaton.
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