Tuesday, July 20, 2010

REVIEW: Freaks (1932)

Disclaimer: In this review I will use terms that were in the original movie in the summary of what the movie is.

I had the privilege of getting to watch this movie, I was very fortunate to have stumbled upon it on Maggie's and I weekly trip to the library.

The most widely recognized and memorable scenes from this movie:

(64 mins):
The movie opens to a carnival barker displaying a sideshow freak called the Feathered Hen and tells her story. Cleopatra, a trapeze artist with the carnival, is adored by a midget named Hans. Frieda, Hans' fiancee (also a midget), warns Hans that Cleopatra is only interested in him so that he will give her money. Cleopatra has an affair with Hercules, and when Frieda lets it slip that Hans is to come into an inheritance, Cleopatra and Hercules plan to get the money be having Cleopatra marry Hans. During the wedding reception, Cleopatra, although openly romantic with Hercules, is accepted by the freaks, but is revolted and mocks them.

I know in probably that paragraph some of you are slightly angered at me for using the terms but I am keeping with the terminology in the movie.

This movie feature famous side show acts of the time.Among the characters featured as "freaks" were Peter Robinson ("the human skeleton"); Olga Roderick ("the bearded lady"); Frances O'Connor and Martha Morris ("armless wonders"); and the conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton. Among the micro cephalics who appear in the film (and are referred to as "pinheads") were Zip and Pip (Elvira and Jenny Lee Snow) and Schlitzie, a male named Simon Metz who wore a dress mainly due to incontinence, a disputed claim. Also featured were the intersexual Josephine Joseph, with her left/right divided gender; Johnny Eck, the legless man; the completely limbless Prince Randian (also known as The Human Torso, and mis-credited as "Rardion"); Elizabeth Green the Stork Woman; and Koo-Koo the Bird Girl, who suffered from Virchow-Seckel syndrome or bird-headed dwarfism, and is most remembered for the scene where she dances on the table.

Some of the "human oddities"/ sideshow performs in this made a good living off their career. Examples from this movie is Hans and Frida (who in real life Harry and Daisy Dolls, siblings from a family of small people). Harry was in several movies before and after this one, and Daisy was revered as a tiny Mae West.

This is a movie that I do suggest people who have not seen it, to take a chance on. All I ask is when you are watching it is to not think of it as exploitative as some people make it out to be. And I firmly believe that this movie was before its time.

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