7.9/10
37,391
260 user 205 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
4,825 ( 135)

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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 story of the love life of the sideshow. 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

Olga Baclanova, later recalled the day when she was first introduced to the supporting cast, Tod Browning "shows me little by little and I could not look, I wanted to faint. I wanted to cry when I saw them. They have such nice faces... they are so poor, you know... he takes me and says, you know, 'Be brave, and don't faint like the first time I show you. You have to work with them.'... It was very, very difficult first time. Every night I felt that I am sick. Because I couldn't look at them. And then I was so sorry for them. That I just couldn't... it hurt me like a human being." See more »

Goofs

At 43:40 when Cleo tosses the wine at the freak, she is standing in front of him but wine she throws comes from far right side. See more »

Quotes

Cleopatra: [Invites Hercules into her circus wagon for a meal. Picks up an egg] How many?
Hercules: Oh, I'm not very hungry. About six.
Cleopatra: [Hands on her hips, chest out] How do you like them?
Hercules: Not... bad.
[Grabs her]
Cleopatra: Oh, you are strong. You are squeezing me to death.
Hercules: And you'll like it!
Cleopatra: Oh, you are taking my breath away.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Although most prints end with the revelation of what happened to Cleopatra, Turner Classic Movies shows a version which follows that scene with a happy-ending epilogue in which Hans and Frieda are reunited. This epilogue itself exists in two different versions, one with dialogue, one without. All three alternate endings are included on the Warner DVD. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Loop (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

Memphis the Majestic
(uncredited)
Music by Russell Alexander
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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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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