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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 »
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Popularity
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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 Daisy Earles ... Frieda
Rose Dione Rose Dione ... Madame Tetrallini
Daisy Hilton Daisy Hilton ... Siamese Twin
Violet Hilton Violet Hilton ... Siamese Twin
Schlitze Schlitze ... Himself
Josephine Joseph ... Half Woman-Half Man
Johnny Eck Johnny Eck ... Half Boy
Frances O'Connor Frances O'Connor ... Armless Girl
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:

What sex is the half-man half-woman? 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)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
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

In the United States, this film was banned in a number of states and cities. Although no longer enforced, some of the laws were never officially repealed. Therefore, it is still technically illegal for this film to be shown in some areas of the USA. See more »

Goofs

In the first shot after the "Wedding Feast" title card, we see Violet Hilton & Daisy Hilton playing soprano saxophones, but we only hear a harmonica being played. See more »

Quotes

Phroso: Don't go out filling your hide with a lot of booze celebrating. 'Cause fun what's got that way never done NO one no good. Get me?
Venus: I got ya'.
Venus: [stops and takes a closer look at Phroso] Say, you're a pretty good kid!
Phroso: You're darn right I am! You should have caught me before my operation!
See more »

Alternate Versions

Reissue prints included a two-and-a-half minute written prologue about historical interpretations and contemporary studies of "misshapen misfits." These same prints remove the MGM Lion (the studio having disowned the film for many years). See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Sentinel (1977) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
*Gasp* this movie is brilliant!!
20 August 2004 | by CoventrySee all my reviews

`Freaks' is a totally unique and superb film by Tod Browning. He made himself legendary one year before this came out – in 1931 – with the all-time horror classic `Dracula'. This film, however, is something completely different and it nearly cost Browning his career. Since Browning had the courage to cast actual deformed actors, the words ‘distasteful' and ‘exploitative' were automatically attached to his masterpiece and it remained banned in many countries for too many years. Very unjustified, of course because throughout the whole film, you NEVER feel like a voyeur and neither is the misery of these unfortunate people overly exposed. On the contrary, I'd say…you can't but get deeply affected by these circus freaks. Especially in the 30's, when the people didn't know much about physical anomalies and feared the unknown, I dare to say Tod Browning's `Freaks' could have been an essential social portrait. And keep in mind that Browning's main moral is that the `freaks' show a lot more solidarity and honesty than the `normal' people whose every motivation is driven by greed and power.

The plot of this purely gold film is set in a traveling circus in which the freaks and normally formed people work together. The beautiful trapeze artist and her strongman lover plot a cowardly plan and she uses her beauty to seduce the rich midget named Hans (a brilliant Harry Earless who also starred in Browning's `The Unholy Tree'). When the greedy couple openly insults the group spirit of the freaks and publicly humiliates Hans, an eerie act of vengeance is thought up. This film is over 70 years old and it'll still unquestionably shock and amaze you. To me, it's just perfect. An outstanding mixture of warm-hearted characters, great dialogue and tension. The climax, in which the freaks seal the portentous fate of their enemies, is an immortal piece of pure terror! `Freaks' is one of the most dazzling classics ever made and must be seen by anybody who ever showed any interest in cinema.


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