7.9/10
37,742
261 user 143 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 »
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Popularity
4,410 ( 181)

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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:

Can a full grown woman truly love a MIDGET ? 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

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

During the scene in which Hans' friends menace Cleopatra in the wagon, the flute soundtrack doesn't match the finger movements of the dwarf playing the flute. See more »

Quotes

Roscoe: I'm not going to have my wife laying in bed half the day with one of your hangovers.
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 American Horror Story: Monsters Among Us (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Wedding of the Winds
(uncredited)
Music by John T. Hall
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Don't Be Fooled
22 July 2005 | by evanston_dadSee 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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