Forbidden Love / Nature's Mistakes
Tod Browning, Harry Rapf, Irving Thalberg for MGM
directed by Tod Browning
starring Harry Earles, Olga Baclanova, Henry Victor, Daisy Earles, Wallace Ford, Leila Hyams, Roscoe Ates, Rose Dione, the Hilton Sisters (Daisy Hilton, Violet Hilton), Schlitze, Josephine Joseph, Johnny Eck, Frances O'Connor, Peter Robinson, Olga Roderick, Koo Koo, Prince Randian, Martha Morris, Elvira Snow, Jenny Lee Snow, Elizabeth Green, Angelo Rossitto, Edward Brophy, Matt McHugh, Burgess Meredith, Murray Kinnell, Michael Visaroff, Albert Conti, Mathilde Comont
screenplay by Willis Goldbeck, Leon Gordon, Charles MacArthur, based on the story Spurs by Clarence Aaron 'Tod' Robbins
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A carneval sideshow: Midget Hans (Harry Earles) has long been the
fiancé of midget Frieda (Daisy Earles), but he can't help being
fascinated by trapeze artiste Cleopatra (Olga Baclanova), a normally grown
woman who feels nothing but contempt for the sideshow-"freaks"
and has something going on with strongman Hercules (Henry Victor) - but
she likes the gifts Hans gives her and constantly borrows money from him.
Frieda begs Cleopatra to let Hans go for her sake, but accidently lets it
slip that he is about to inherit a vast fortune - and the next thing you
know, Cleopatra gets married to Hans ... in a ceremony in which the
sideshow freaks want to make her one of theirs symbolically, much to her
horror, and during which she humiliates Hans. Hans forgives her though,
and from now on, she starts poisoning him, but soon enough, Hans's freak
friends find out, and eventually, during a thunderstorm, they have their
revenge on her, turning her into the biggest freak, a half human, half
Most often, Freaks is labelled as a horror
film, which it, apart from the atmospheric finale, simply is not. Instead
it is a very humane film, taking a compassionate yet kitsch-free look at
the lives of its sideshow performers, who apart from being physically
deformed, are humanslike you and me with an exceptional sense of
community. The real freaks on the other hand, the monsters, are the
normal people, those who think themselves superior to those who are
different in whichever way. Now all of this makes the film sound like one
of these cheesy movies that try to hammer home their obvious messages in
the most obnoxious ways - but Freaks is no such thing, it's a very
subtle and subtly narrated drama that might not have much new to tell on a
narrative level but uses its scenery and in fact its subject matter in the
best bossible way without exploiting its performers.
A classic and a