7.9/10
40,164
277 user 154 critic

Freaks (1932)

Not Rated | | Drama | 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
4,989 ( 128)
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 ... Self
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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A mad, disfigured composer seeks love with a lovely young opera singer.

Directors: Rupert Julian, Lon Chaney, and 2 more credits »
Stars: Lon Chaney, Mary Philbin, Norman Kerry

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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:

Do Siamese Twins make love? See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the UK, this film was banned for 30 years after it was first released. See more »

Goofs

Hercules rushes out of the wagon in pursuit of Josephine/Joseph, hot on his/her heels, but when Cleopatra looks out the window a moment later, Jo is leaning casually against a wagon applying makeup. He/she would not have had time to relax and get out a compact in that short amount of time. See more »

Quotes

Hans: Give me that little black bottle.
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

Featured in TCM Underground: Freaks/Mark of the Vampire (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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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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
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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