A film crew goes to a tropical island for an exotic location shoot and discovers a colossal ape who takes a shine to their female blonde star. He is then captured and brought back to New York City for public exhibition.
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
According to the screenplay, the scene in which Madame Tetrallini introduces the wandering land-owner to the performers frolicking in the woods ran quite a bit longer. It included additional dialog that endeavored to humanize the so-called freaks. She tells him they are "always in hot, stuffy tents - strange eyes always staring at them - never allowed to forget what they are." Duval responds sympathetically (clearly the stand-in for the viewing audience), "When I go to the circus again, Madame, I'll remember," to which she adds, "I know, Monsieur - you will remember seeing them playing - playing like children... Among all the thousands who come to stare - to laugh - to shudder - you will be one who understands." 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 »
That's it, that's it. Go ahead and laugh. It's funny, ain't it? Yeah. Women are funny, ain't they? They're all tramps, ain't they? Yeah. Except when you can get money from them!
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The subject of human disability is still a taboo subject in Cinema, even over 70 years since this film's release.
It's difficult to imagine what impact this film would have had in the 1930's, but as it still has the ability to shock ( through the images of bodily deformity ) I can understand why many shunned and disowned this work, and why it totally ruined Todd Browning's film career.
The basic premise - that beauty is more than skin deep - can appear to be wielded with a sledgehammer, but perhaps the contemporary audience needed to be hit harder in order to make them understand the point.
The film is short ( due to enforced cuts ), and at times can move rather slowly and can appear rather 'stagey' which is a trait of many films from the 20's / 30's.
But don't let that put you off. The plot is simple, but it's the telling of the story rather than the story itself that is important. And you really do need to remind yourself that these are real people - not actors - and this was the live they led.
I rate it 9 outa 10 because they really don't make them like this any more.
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