Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments



Freaks (1932)

 





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Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions
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Freaks (1932)

In Tod Browning's severely-censored horror classic about a fiercely-loyal group of circus 'freaks':

  • the opening sequence: a carnival barker (Murray Kinnell) enticed customers to enter his sideshow, and explained the freaks' code of honor: "We didn't lie to ya, folks. We told you we had living, breathing monstrosities. You laughed at them, shuddered at them and yet, but for the accident of birth, you might be even as they are. They did not ask to be brought into the world, but into the world they came. Their code is a law unto themselves. Offend one - and you offend them all."
Carnival Barker
Sight of Off-Screen Creature - Cleopatra (revealed at end)
  • the barker introduced the customers to an off-screen creature penned up in an enclosure, causing one of the women to scream at the sight of the hideous human monstrosity: And now, folks, if you'll just step this way. You are about to witness the most amazing, the most astounding living monstrosity of all time. (woman's scream) Friends - she was once a beautiful woman. A royal prince shot himself for love of her. She was known as the Peacock of the Air..." --- the sight of the creature was postponed until the film's conclusion
  • the many oddities and grotesque deformities of the freak circus side show members (the conjoined Siamese twins: Daisy and Violet Hilton, Prince Randian - the armless and legless "Living Torso" or "Larva Man", Johnny Eck the 'half-boy' (with nothing below his waist), the armless girl (the "Living Venus de Milo"), the Bearded Lady Olga Roderick, the "Stork Woman" (Elizabeth/Betty Green) and "Bird Girl" (Koo Koo) with a feathery costume, and four 'pinheads' or microcephalics (including Schlitze); also in particular, the character of half-man/half-woman hermaphrodite Josephine-Joseph (as Herself/Himself)
  • the unusual sexual pairing of two midgets Hans (Harry Earles) and devoted Frieda (Daisy Earles); in one scene, fiancee Frieda rebuked Hans for smoking a large cigar ("You must not smoke such a big cigar. Your voice was very bad at tonight's show") - implying in Freudian terms that he was too small to be enjoying a more manly phallic symbol. He tried to silence her: "I want no orders from a woman"
  • the most infamous 'Wedding Feast' scene that welcomed high-wire trapeze artist Cleopatra (Olga Baclanova), who had married gullible midget circus announcer Hans; Hans was due to claim an inheritance, but Cleopatra's dastardly intention, plotted with her strong-man lover Hercules (Henry Victor), was simply to poison Hans to death for his money; during the banquet, after Hans had married Cleo, the freaks began an unforgettable chant before passing around a loving cup to accept her: We accept her. We accept her. Googoo-goggle, Googoo-goggle. One of us, One of us"
  • Cleopatra's memorable speech to the 'freaks' - when she incurred the wrath of the tightly knit, loyal group of "nature's aberrations"; after being offered the loving cup, she rose stiffly from her chair, became extremely revolted by them, and exclaimed: "You dirty, slimy FREAKS! Freaks, freaks! Get out of here!" - and threw the contents of her drinking cup at them; then, she challenged her ashamed new husband Hans: "Well, what are you going to do? What are you - a man or a baby?" - and then suggested giving him a childish horsey-back ride: "What must I do? Must I play games with you? Must Mamma take you horsey-back ride?"; she carried him on her shoulders for a "horsey-back ride", with Hercules assisting in the humiliation: "Ha, ha, that's it! Horsey-back ride! Ha, ha, ha. Come, come, my little fly speck. Mamma is going to take you horsey- back ride. Giddy-up! Giddy-up, horsey!"
The 'Wedding Feast' Banquet Scene
"You dirty slimy FREAKS...You filth, make me one of you, will you?"
  • the final stormy night sequence of the freaks making good on their threats as they crawled through the mud (some with knives in their mouths) to murder or emasculate muscleman Hercules (the film's dialogue and action were unclear on this point due to studio editing), and then pursue gold-digging Cleopatra to exact a horrible revenge on account of her treatment of Hans
Revenge of 'Freaks' - Crawling in Mud with Knives
  • in the conclusion - the sight of the sexy and tall, transformed Cleopatra as a legless, feathered mutant chicken with a scarred and bruised face, drooping and squawking mouth: (the barker introduced her: "How she got that way will never be known. Some say a jealous lover, others that it was the code of the freaks, others the storm. Believe it or not, there she is...!")

Cleopatra with Strong-Man Hercules

Hans and Frieda


Hermaphrodite Josephine-Joseph

Conjoined Siamese Twins: Daisy/Violet Hilton

'Pinheads'

Schlitze

Bird Girl (Koo Koo)

The "Living Torso"

Johnny Eck

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