Cover image for Freaks
Browning, Tod, 1880-1962.
[DVD version].
Publication Information:
[United States] : Turner Entertainment Co. ; Burbank, CA : Distributed by Warner Home Video, [2004]
Physical Description:
1 videodisc (approximately 66 min.) : sound, black and white ; 4 3/4 in.
A group of freaks take revenge on a trapeze artist and her boyfriend after years of abuse. Filmed using real circus freaks.
General Note:
Title from container.

Originally released as a motion picture in 1932.

Suggested by Tod Robbins' story "Spurs".

Special features: commentary by David J. Skal, author of Dark Carnival: the Secret World of Tod Browning, Hollywood's master of the macabre; all-new documentary Freaks: Sideshow Cinema; special message prologue added for theatrical reissue 3 alternate endings.
Reading Level:
MPAA rating: Not rated.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Audubon Library DVD 8591 Adult DVD Open Shelf
Central Library DVD 8591 Adult DVD Central Library
Lancaster Library DVD 8591 Adult DVD Audio Visual
Clarence Library DVD 8591 Adult DVD Classics

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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. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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