Screening of Tod Browning’s film
Freaks is a 1932 horror film about sideshow performers, directed and produced by Tod Browning. The central story is of a self-serving trapeze artist named Cleopatra (Olga Baclanova) who seduces and eventually marries a sideshow midget, Hans (Harry Earles), after learning of his large inheritance. Director Tod Browning took the exceptional step of casting real people with deformities as the eponymous sideshow “freaks,” rather than using costumes and makeup. Browning had been a member of a traveling circus in his early years, and much of the film was drawn from his personal experiences. Upon release the movie created such a scandal that it was withdrawn, re-cut (the parts removed now lost), banned from screening in several countries and eventually forgotten. It was rediscovered in the 60’s and 70’s and has since been acknowledged as a cult masterpiece. Browning career never recovered following the scandal and he retired from making movies shortly after.