7.9/10
39,325
271 user 148 critic

Freaks (1932)

Not Rated | | Drama, Horror | 20 February 1932 (USA)
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.

Director:

Tod Browning

Writers:

Clarence Aaron 'Tod' Robbins (suggested by story: "Spurs") (as Tod Robbins), Willis Goldbeck (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Popularity
3,209 ( 1,191)
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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 Daisy Hilton ... Siamese Twin
Violet Hilton Violet Hilton ... Siamese Twin
Schlitze ... Himself
Josephine Joseph ... Half Woman-Half Man
Johnny Eck Johnny Eck ... Half Boy
Frances O'Connor Frances O'Connor ... Armless Girl
Peter Robinson Peter Robinson ... Human Skeleton
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

The story of the love life of the sideshow. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Horror

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German | French

Release Date:

20 February 1932 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Forbidden Love See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$310,607 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$4,072
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to one source, director Tod Browning was introduced to the story by Cedric Gibbons, longtime head of MGM's Art Department. He was supposedly boyhood friends with author Clarence Aaron 'Tod' Robbins and convinced the studio to purchase film rights for the sum of $8,000. Another source claims that the diminutive actor Harry Earles gave Browning a copy of the story during the production of The Unholy Three (1925) in hopes that he could star in the adaptation. See more »

Goofs

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

Roscoe: [whenever he asks only one of the two Siamese twins to stay, and the twins have to leave together] You always use that as a excu-excuse, an alib-b-b-bi.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Two of the "graphic" sequences removed involved the freaks castrating and mutilating Hercules, and his subsequent appearance as one of the freaks at the film's end, singing high pitched notes. See more »

Connections

Referenced in American Horror Story: Monsters Among Us (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Dancing Dolls
(uncredited)
Music by Julius Seredy
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Disturbing & Thought Provoking
9 October 2003 | by Iron HorseSee all my reviews

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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