Keaton: The Frozen North
Today is the birthday of silent western star William S. Hart (1864-1946). I’ve got a westerns project coming up but that’s a couple of years down the dusty dirt road. In the meantime, something more relevant: Buster Keaton’s 1922 parody of Hart’s gritty westerns, The Frozen North. (Portions are missing in all extant copies of the film). The film is perhaps the meanest of all Keaton’s comedies (Buster was known as many things; mean was not one of them). But is is said that his Hart took Buster’s ribbing (especially about his onscreen crying) pretty hard. He was undoubtedly especially sensitive at the time due to his own declining popularity relative to the rise of an upstart named Tom Mix. At any rate, lots of funny stuff in this film:
To find out more about the variety arts past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. And don’t miss Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, to be released by Bear Manor Media in 2013.