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 »
Reviews
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:

The Love Story of a SIREN, a GIANT, and a DWARF! 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

Following the huge success of Dracula (1931), which MGM director Tod Browning made on loan to Universal, he was instructed by MGM production chief Irving Thalberg to "give us something to out-horror 'Frankenstein'", another Universal hit of the time. Browning was essentially given the freedom to make whatever he wanted, but Thalberg was completely unprepared for what he produced. 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

Madame Tetrallini: [to the freaks after the Rollo Brothers leave] Shame. Shame! How many times have I told you not to be frightened. Have I not told you, God looks after all His children!
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 »


Soundtracks

Alexander's Ragtime Band
(uncredited)
Written by Irving Berlin
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

'Freaks' is an extraordinary movie with a lot of heart.
20 May 2004 | by InfofreakSee all my reviews

I really dig 1930s horror movies. There's just something special about them that can never be recreated. A lot of it has to do with the talkies being new territory, many of the directors adapting German Expressionist techniques to Hollywood melodrama, and the freedom allowed before the Hayes Code really kicked in. Movies like 'Dracula', 'Frankenstein', 'Bride Of Frankenstein', 'Island Of Lost Souls', 'The Invisible Man' and 'White Zombie' are horror classics which still impress today. I wonder whether anyone will be watching the lame horror movies of today in seventy years for any other reason than some cheap laughs? Todd Browning made the transition from silent movies and directed the hugely successful 'Dracula' in 1931. It was a sensation and made Bela Lugosi a horror icon. Browning could pretty much do anything he chose after that. He chose to do 'Freaks'. Great for us as, not so great for him. The movie was universally reviled and even banned in some countries and his career never fully recovered. But 'Freaks' is an extraordinary movie with a lot of heart. It has faults, sure - some corny acting at times, and not so great production values - but it really doesn't matter. I don't know anyone who's seen it who hasn't been deeply affected by it. The reason the movie caused such a negative reaction back in the 1930s was because it used real circus performers including Zip the Pinhead and Radian "The Living Torso". Many people found this to be distasteful and exploitative, but the performers seemed to be glad to get the opportunity to work, and the whole crux of the movie is that the "freaks" are more decent than the "normal" Cleopatra (Olga Baclanova) , the trapeze artist who marries little person Hans (Harry Earls) for his money. 'Freaks' is still a very powerful and unique movie. It has inspired many creative people over the years from the Surrealists to The Ramones to Jodorowsky to David Lynch. 'Freaks' comes with my highest recommendation!


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