IMDb > Freaks (1932)
Freaks
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Freaks (1932) More at IMDbPro »

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Overview

User Rating:
8.0/10   26,772 votes »
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Up 11% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Director:
Writer:
Clarence Aaron 'Tod' Robbins (suggested by story: "Spurs")
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for Freaks on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
20 February 1932 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
Can a full grown woman truly love a MIDGET ? See more »
Plot:
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. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Awards:
1 win & 1 nomination See more »
NewsDesk:
(98 articles)
Bound By Flesh
 (From Leonard Maltin's Movie Crazy. 26 June 2014, 9:00 PM, PDT)

Exclusive Clip Bound by Flesh
 (From Dread Central. 26 June 2014, 10:00 AM, PDT)

Not Safe For Work: Top 13 Wtf Moments in Horror
 (From Dread Central. 22 April 2014, 7:00 PM, PDT)

User Reviews:
Very good relatively avant-garde film See more (237 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)
Wallace Ford ... Phroso

Leila Hyams ... Venus

Olga Baclanova ... Cleopatra
Roscoe Ates ... Roscoe (as Rosco Ates)
Henry Victor ... Hercules
Harry Earles ... Hans
Daisy Earles ... Frieda
Rose Dione ... Madame Tetrallini
Daisy Hilton ... Siamese Twin
Violet Hilton ... Siamese Twin
Schlitze ... Himself
Josephine Joseph ... Half Woman-Half Man
Johnny Eck ... Half Boy
Frances O'Connor ... Armless Girl
Peter Robinson ... Human Skeleton
Olga Roderick ... Bearded Lady
Koo Koo ... By Herself
Prince Randian ... The Living Torso (as Rardion)
Martha Morris ... Armless Girl
Elvira Snow ... Pinhead (as Zip)
Jenny Lee Snow ... Pinhead (as Pip)
Elizabeth Green ... Bird Girl
Angelo Rossitto ... Angeleno
Edward Brophy ... Rollo Brother
Matt McHugh ... Rollo Brother (as Mat McHugh)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
John Aasen ... Giant (uncredited)
Ernie Adams ... Sideshow Patron (uncredited)
Demetrius Alexis ... Mr. Rogers (uncredited)
Hooper Atchley ... Doctoer (uncredited)
Jerry Austin ... Knife-Throwing Dwarf (uncredited)
Sidney Bracey ... Hans' Butler (uncredited)
Mathilde Comont ... Madame Bartet (uncredited)
Albert Conti ... Landowner (uncredited)
Tiny Doll ... (uncredited)
Edith ... Crawling Girl (uncredited)
Delmo Fritz ... Sword-Swallower (uncredited)
Murray Kinnell ... Freakshow Barker (uncredited)
Michael Visaroff ... Jean (uncredited)
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Directed by
Tod Browning 
 
Writing credits
Clarence Aaron 'Tod' Robbins (suggested by story: "Spurs") (as Tod Robbins)

Al Boasberg  additional dialogue (uncredited)
Willis Goldbeck  screenplay (uncredited)
Leon Gordon  screenplay (uncredited)
Charles MacArthur  uncredited
Edgar Allan Woolf  additional dialogue (uncredited)

Produced by
Tod Browning .... producer (uncredited)
Dwain Esper .... producer (reissue) (uncredited)
Harry Rapf .... producer (uncredited)
Hildegarde Stadie .... producer (reissue) (uncredited)
Irving Thalberg .... producer (uncredited)
 
Cinematography by
Merritt B. Gerstad (photographed by) (uncredited)
 
Film Editing by
Basil Wrangell (uncredited)
 
Art Direction by
Cedric Gibbons (uncredited)
Merrill Pye (uncredited)
 
Production Management
Harry Sharrock .... production manager (uncredited)
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
William Ryan .... second assistant director (uncredited)
Will Sheldon .... third assistant director (uncredited)
Errol Taggart .... first assistant director (uncredited)
 
Sound Department
G.A. Burns .... sound recording engineer (uncredited)
Douglas Shearer .... recording director (uncredited)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
David S. Horsley .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Oliver T. Marsh .... additional photographer (uncredited)
Paul Vogel .... additional photographer (uncredited)
 
Other crew
Will Sheldon .... script supervisor (uncredited)
 
Crew verified as complete


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Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Forbidden Love" - USA (informal title)
"Nature's Mistakes" - USA (informal title)
See more »
Runtime:
64 min
Country:
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Certification:
Australia:PG | Canada:G (Quebec) | Canada:14A (video rating) | Finland:(Banned) (1932) | France:18 | Germany:16 | Ireland:(Banned) (1999) | Italy:T (VHS/DVD rating) (self applied) | Italy:(Banned) (original rating) | Portugal:M/12 | UK:R (original rating) | UK:12 (re-rating) (2001) | UK:15 (video rating) (1995) | UK:X (re-rating) (1963) | USA:Unrated | USA:Passed (National Board of Review)

Did You Know?

Trivia:
F. Scott Fitzgerald was a member of the MGM writing department at the time the movie was in production. He never felt quite at home with all the movie stars and powerful moguls, and so he often dined in the commissary at the table of the sideshow attractions (freaks) during his lunch hour.See more »
Goofs:
Boom mic visible: 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 »
Quotes:
Hans:Are you laughing at me?
Cleopatra:Why no, monsieur.
Hans:Thanks, I'm glad.
Cleopatra:Why should they laugh at you?
Hans:Most big people do, they don't realize that I'm a man with the same feelings they have.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Featured in 100 Years of Horror: Freaks (1996) (V)See more »
Soundtrack:
Dancing DollsSee more »

FAQ

How much sex, violence, and profanity are in this movie?
How does the movie end?
Are the freaks real or just actors in costumes?
See more »
101 out of 117 people found the following review useful.
Very good relatively avant-garde film, 5 March 2005
Author: Brandt Sponseller from New York City

Part fictional portrait of a group of circus sideshow performers and part tragic soap opera about their various and complicated relationships, the main story has a midget, Hans (Harry Earles), falling in love with the Amazonian trapeze artist, Cleopatra (Olga Baclanova), who feigns affection for him--at first to taunt him and later to use him.

Freaks isn't really a horror film, although the horror boom that began in 1931 precipitated Freaks entering production. The script developed out of an earlier one named "Spurs" that had been in MGM's possession since the late 1920s. The success of Universal's horror films of 1931 (Dracula and Frankenstein) had studios scrambling to cash in on the trend. Horror films weren't new, of course, but repeated commercial success of horror films released in quick succession was. A number of factors contributed to the phenomenon, including the Great Depression, the lingering cultural impact from World War I, and the advent of sound films. So even though Freaks wasn't exactly horror, and the protagonists weren't exactly monsters, it was close enough. In the early 1930s, the public had not yet been overexposed to media-sensationalized differences in human appearances and behavior. The effect of the film then, in conjunction with memories of real life horrors, including those of war-mangled veterans, offered the emotional reaction that producers and studios are often seeking from horror films.

But Freaks is really part tragic drama, part character study, and in many ways it is almost a documentary. The modern attraction to the film comes from a few sources. One, the "gawking effect", or the simple fact of watching the freaks in action. Sideshows are an unfortunately dying phenomenon, if they're not already dead (many would say they are), largely because of a combination of medical advances, which often "cure" the physical differences that would have made "victims" sideshow candidates, and political correctness, which mistakenly sees sideshows as negatively exploitative. It's fascinating watching the different kinds of people in the film and their behavior, including not only their social interactions, but how some of them manage to just get around and perform everyday activities such as eating, lighting a cigarette, and so on. This kind of material takes up at least half of the film's short running time (64 minutes; initially it ran closer to 90 minutes, but 26 minutes of cuts were made (and are now apparently lost) to appease the New York State censor board).

Two, this was a lost film, figuratively and almost literally, for quite some time. MGM wanted nothing to do with it. For a while, it had been playing the "roadshow" circuit in different cuts, under different titles, such as "Nature's Mistakes". The film had been banned in many areas, and at least technically is still banned in some. It eventually appeared on VHS in the 1980s, but until the recent DVD release, it has never been very easy to find in most rental or retail outlets.

Three, the most common modern reading of the film--and this was also part of director Tod Browning's intention in making Freaks, even if the average audience member didn't see it this way at first, has it as a Nightbreed (1990)-like turning of the dramatic tables, where the extremely alienated "monsters" are the sympathetic protagonists and the ostensibly "normal" humans turn out to be the real monsters. For those who like films best where they can identify in some emotional way with the characters, Freaks is particularly attractive to anyone who feels alienated or strongly different, even looked down upon, by "normal" society. At various times, and by various people, Freaks has been read as everything from purely exploitative schlock to a socialist parable to a film imbued with odd commentary, metaphors and subtexts about male-female couplings and Oedipal complexes.

Freaks isn't a great film in terms of the usual criteria, such as storytelling, exquisite performances, and so on, but it's appropriate that it wouldn't be a masterpiece per the normal criteria--it's not about normal people. The film is certainly valuable as a creative, almost experimental artwork, not to mention as a more or less permanent record of the decayed and almost abandoned artform of sideshows. It's not surprising that not every cast member is an incredible actor--for many roles, there was only one person available who could have fulfilled the character in a particular way, making the stilted delivery of dialogue more excusable. In any event, this is an important film historically, and a joy to watch.

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Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for Freaks (1932)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
Your favorite freak? SlipGun
Upwards of 30 minutes were cut from the film FilmKoala
On TCM on October 19, 2013 at 8 P.M. Ariane1998
The Ending was a step backwards Udo666
Really a HORROR movie? gemininyc
Daisy and Violet HIlton HOHNancy
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