FreaksDirector: Tod Browning, Wallace Ford, Leila Hyams, Olga Baclanova
The genesis of MGM's Freaks was a magazine piece by Ted Robbins titled Spurs. The story involved a terrible revenge enacted by a mean-spirited circus midget upon his normal-sized wife. In adapting Spurs for the screen, writers Willis Goldbeck, Leon Gordon, Edgar Allan Wolf, and Al Boasberg retained the circus setting and the little man-big woman wedding, all the while de-vilifying the midget and transforming the woman into the true "heavy" of the piece. German "little person" Harry Earles plays Hans, who falls in love with long-legged trapeze artist Cleopatra (Olga Baclanova). Discovering that Hans is heir to a fortune, Cleopatra inveigles him into a marriage, all the while planning to bump off her new husband and run away with brutish strongman Hercules (Henry Victor). What she doesn't reckon with is the code of honor among circus freaks: "offend one, offend them all." What set this film apart from director Tod Browning's earlier efforts was the fact that genuine circus and carnival sideshow performers were cast as the freaks: Harry Earles and his equally diminutive sister Daisy, Siamese twins Violet and Daisy Hilton, legless Johnny Eck, armless-legless Randian (who rolls cigarettes with his teeth), androgynous Josephine-Joseph, "pinheads" Schlitzie, Elvira, Jennie Lee Snow, and so on. Upon its initial release, Freaks was greeted with such revulsion from movie-house audiences that MGM spent the next 30 years distancing themselves as far from the project as possible. For many years available only in a truncated reissue version titled Nature's Mistakes, Freaks was eventually restored to its original release print.
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Cast & Crew
|Rose Dione||Mme. Tetrallini|
|Daisy Hilton||Siamese Twin|
|Violet Hilton||Siamese Twin|
|Matt McHugh||Rollo Brother|
|Ernie S. Adams||Sideshow Patron|
|Jennie Lee Snow||Herself|
|Michael Visaroff||Jean the Caretaker|
|Johnny Eck||Johnny the Half Boy|
|Peter Robinson||Human Skeleton|
|Olga Roderick||Bearded Lady|
|Martha Morris||Armless Girl|
|Elizabeth Green||Bird Girl|
|Edward S. Brophy||Rollo Brother|
|Merritt B. Gerstad||Cinematographer|
|Edgar Allan Woolf||Screenwriter|
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I remember watching this as a kid, and it was very old then. I made a lasting impression on me. For years this was not played again on commercial TV, when I saw it was on DVD, i had to purchase it. It still has a last power to stir the emotions. It still has revelance.
i saw this movie on t.v. and i loved it it was kinda weird but yet it is a very good and SUPER COOL movie lol.... i luv FREAKS lol!!!!! :)
I must say that I would have never pictured such a scandelous movie like "Freaks" to have been at the time it was. I highly, highly recommend this movie to people who enjoy old classics and also to those who love great suspense in movies. Unlike many movies the ending does not disappoint you.
I bought ''Freaks'' after hearing about its extreme offensiveness and relative weirdness and I must say it is one of the best purchases I've ever made. This movie is not for the type of people who like things politically correct but if u have a slightly off-beat sense of humor and enjoy cult movies this is a must see.
this is an interesting film and well done, as the characters are real but misunderstood. the ending sad yet true.
After scaring theater goers from their seats with his tale of the blood thirsty Count Dracula (1931) over at Universal, Tod Browning migrated to MGM for an even greater shock fest with ¿Freaks¿. Considered by many to be the most grotesque horror film ever made, ¿Freaks¿ is the story of a demented lover¿s triangle that, upon release in the U.S. was considered so disturbing, that it was banned for more than thirty years in Great Britain. In 1994 the reputation of this classic finally achieved its rightful status as a cinematic treasure with the National Film Registry. A wealthy midget, Hans (Harry Earles) is smitten with trapeze artist, Cleopatra (Olga Baclanova). Though advised against pursuing an affair by fellow midget performer, Frieda (Daisy Earles ¿ Harry¿s real life sister) who is actually in love with Hans herself, Hans bates the high wire diva. To everyone¿s surprise Cleopatra accepts her pint size lothario¿s advances and very soon the two become lovers and are married. But all is not as it seems. Cleopatra is really the secretive lover of circus strong man, Hercules (Henry Victor). The two have concocted a plot to do away with Hans and steal his money. Browning¿s direction ably fosters its morality play in the dichotomous relationship between the good willed and humane ¿freaks¿ and the treacherous and diabolical ¿normals.¿ Cleopatra slowly poisons Hans, making it appear as though he is merely suffering from some sort of malady from which he will recover. However, when two sympathetic ¿normals¿ Phroso (Wallace Ford) and Venus (Leila Hyams) discover the truth behind the sham marriage, the freaks decide to launch into their own special brand of terror. Amassing a cavalcade of real life circus performers for this film, Browning effectively alienated the top brass at MGM and its stars ¿ especially during lunch time in the commissary, where a special table partitioned from the rest played host to Radian; the living torso, Frances O¿Connor; the armless girl, Olga Roderick; the bearded lady, and other mutations of mankind. Upon its release in the U.S. audiences were literally shocked from their seats, particularly during the film¿s climactic revenge on Hercules and Cleopatra. The freaks emasculate the strong man and transform Cleopatra by amputation into a bird-like mute creature. Warner¿s DVD is very impressive. Minted from film elements which have obviously undergone some sort of restoration, the DVD exhibits a stunningly handsome gray scale with incredibly sharp images and a remarkable amount of fine detail. Though age related artifacts are riddled throughout and some softly focused scenes still exist, this is by far the most satisfying image quality for a film of this vintage. Blacks are solid and deep. Contrast levels are nicely balanced. There is an absence of digital anomalies for a nearly pristine and very smooth visual presentation that will surely not disappoint. (Aside: originally ¿Freaks was premiered with the final shot being that of Cleopatra¿s hideous transformation into the chicken woman. However, Browning originally intended there to be an epilogue in which Hans and Frieda are reunited. Since this footage was rediscovered in MGM¿s vaults it has been re-inserted into this version of the film. But these film elements are extremely poorly contrasted and softly focused, making the ending of ¿Freaks¿ the one let down of an otherwise impeccably rendered DVD.) The audio has been cleaned up and is equally impressive. Extras include a thorough and engaging audio commentary by noted author, David J. Skal, an all new almost hour long documentary (which is heavy and meandering in tracing the lineage of the real life circus performers but terribly short on documenting the production of the film itself), a prologue added to the film after its initial release and three alternate endings.
this movie was deffinatly ahead of its time. if you have a love of the sideshow, or "those who are not like us" you must watch this one.
This is one of cinema's most important films. This is a movie that should go down in history. a film like this would be absurd if it came out today.