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Freaks (1932)

Unrated  |   |  Drama, Horror  |  20 February 1932 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 30,634 users  
Reviews: 247 user | 181 critic

A circus' beautiful trapeze artist agrees to marry the leader of side-show performers, but his deformed friends discover she is only marrying him for his inheritance.



(suggested by story: "Spurs") (as Tod Robbins)
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1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Roscoe Ates ...
Roscoe (as Rosco Ates)
Harry Earles ...
Daisy Earles ...
Rose Dione ...
Madame Tetrallini
Daisy Hilton ...
Violet Hilton ...
Schlitze ...
Half Woman-Half Man
Johnny Eck ...
Half Boy
Frances O'Connor ...
Armless Girl
Peter Robinson ...
Human Skeleton


A circus trapeze artist, Cleopatra, takes an interest in Hans, a midget who works in the circus sideshow. Her interest however is in the money Hans will be inheriting and she is actually carrying on an affair with another circus performer, Hercules. Hans's fiancée does her best to convince him that he is being used but to no avail. At their wedding party, a drunken Cleopatra tells the sideshow freaks just what she thinks of them. Together, the freaks decide to make her one of their own. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


"We'll Make Her One of Us!" from the gibbering mouths of these weird creatures came this frenzied cry... no wonder she cringed in horror... this beautiful woman who dared toy with the love of one of them! See more »


Drama | Horror


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





| |

Release Date:

20 February 1932 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Forbidden Love  »

Box Office


$310,607 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Myrna Loy, originally slated for the Olga Baclanova role, turned down the part because she felt the script was offensive. See more »


The shadow of the boom fall on Phroso's back when he and Venus are talking in the trailer, after her angry outburst at him. See more »


Frieda: It wasn't your fault, it was only the bottle you wanted.
See more »


Spoofed in Freaked (1993) See more »


The Lion Chase
Music by Charles Koelling
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Don't Be Fooled
22 July 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Don't let people convince you that "Freaks" is a horror movie, because it isn't. It's actually a quite sad and sympathetic look at the way abnormalities were treated in the early part of the 20th century, and has direct parallels to the obsession with physical perfection causing eating disorders today. Tod Browning of course asks us to consider who are the bigger freaks: those with deformed bodies or those with deformed souls? The two "normal" people who are out to cheat and steal are monstrous, whereas the freaks are quite likable and charming. The ending is disturbing to be sure, but it's hard to condemn the freaks for acts that seem largely justified.

Is it a coincidence that in several shots showing Cleopatra reclining on a sofa, she appears to be deformed herself (in one shot it looks as if she has no legs). Has anybody else noticed this? "Freaks" was obviously way ahead of its time. There's a very interesting documentary on the DVD about its reception in 1932; it bombed and pretty much ruined Browning's career. Thank God that the general public is not allowed to be the final arbiter of a film's value. Think how many priceless films we would have lost by now if that were the case.

Grade: A

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