7.9/10
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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
4,323 ( 633)
2 wins & 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 ... Pin Head
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:

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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Did You Know?

Trivia

Entertainment Weekly ranked this as the 24th scariest movie of all time. See more »

Goofs

When Johnny visits Venus and Phroso, he climbs the steps and removes his gloves. In a subsequent shot, his gloves are back on. See more »

Quotes

Cleopatra: Well, what are you going to do? What are you a man? Or, a baby?
Hans: Please, please, you make me ashamed.
Cleopatra: Ashamed! You?
See more »

Alternate Versions

Original preview version of "Freaks" allegedly ran 90 minutes. After a disastrous reaction from the audience, MGM executive Irving Thalberg deemed the film "too horrific" and had it cut to its present length of 64 minutes. The cut footage is not known to exist. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Townies: I'm with Stupid (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

Gruesome Tales
(uncredited)
Music by William Axt and Erno Rapee
See more »

User Reviews

 
"Living, Breathing Monstrosities.."
9 August 2004 | by Tom_Powers30See all my reviews

Those that have seen either 1930's gangster film, "The Public Enemy" or "Little Caesar" will be familiar with the opening scrawl of the amazing film, "Freaks." In the 1930's it seemed as though the filmmakers had to set up the audience or apologize, in a way, for what they were about to see. The opening, before the title card, explains how "freaks" or human oddities have been treated by society. It tells how such deformed people were shunned from society, but, how they have normal thoughts and feelings just like the rest of us. This truly is the power of this truly moving, funny, very strange, and ultimately frightening film from the "Dark Carnival" mind of director Tod Browning...

No reason to do a summary here, that ruins the experience for new audiences to discover on their own and the rest of the reviewers have all ready done a stellar job, I'm sure, of giving plot synopsis.

Let's say that the average viewer will be stunned at first by the fact that real deformed dwarfs, midgets,siamese twins, and other "oddities" were the actors in this film. And that, in itself, lends the film its mysterious power and casts its spell on the viewer as much now in 2004 as I'm sure it did in the 30's and upon its rediscovery in the 1960's.

The tone of this film varies throughout. At it's center really are several relationships: Hans and his fiancée; Hans and the "Big" Lady, Cleopatra; Frozo the Clown and Venus; Hercules the strong man and Cleopatra, and of course the "Freaks" vs. Hercules and Cleopatra and the special code of the Freaks.

There are several lame 1930's jokes an example: "I thinks she likes you, b-b-b-but h-he don't!" stutters a clown in the circus when the half male/female character walks by Hercules and stops to take a gander. It's a strange, perverse joke and an example of what you're in for with this movie.

The power of the film is within the freaks themselves. We are invited to gawk, stare, but, ultimately sympathize with them. We want to see anyone who threatens them get their comeuppance and boy do they ever get that!

The freak that will freak you out the most: The Living Torso, Radian.

You'll love Frozo and Venus and pull for them throughout.

You'll root for Hans and Frida.

You'll enjoy Rosco the clown's humorous performance.

You'll be truly disturbed by the classic; uber-horror scene of the freaks crawling with knives in the mud in the rain-storm revenge sequence toward the end. Some of the most classic images in all of film not just horror.

I love it when Hans calls other "big" people in the circus who make him angry : "Swine!" He rules.

When the title card: THE WEDDING FEAST comes up you too will be truly FREAKED out! I love this movie and it has quickly become one of my favorites of all time right along-side 1930's classics like Dracula, Frankenstein, etc.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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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
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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