Filmsite Movie Review
Freaks (1932)
Pages: (1) (2) (3)
Plot Synopsis (continued)

Ridicule of Hans for Being Manipulated by Cleopatra:

As Frieda was hanging up laundry, Venus (while sewing on her front steps) sensed that she was upset and worried about Hans, her man, although at first denied there was a problem. Then Frieda confessed that she was aware that Cleopatra was manipulating Hans by always smiling at him and receiving gifts - and increasingly Hans was ignoring Frieda to moon over Cleopatra:

Yeah, and by me, she has no shame. Always when I can hear it, she says to him, 'Many thanks, my darling, for the flowers. Thanks, my darling, for this', and 'Thanks, my darling, for that.' Always something he has given.

Venus tried to reassure Frieda not to worry about Cleopatra's persistent attention: "He doesn't love her -- oh, that big horse!"

Under the big circus tent, Hercules and the two Rollo Brothers were playing cards at a table, while Hans stood on the circus ring platform nearby admiring Cleopatra seated on the trapeze swing. Within earshot of Hans, the threesome was goading Hans into anger with ribald remarks, by proposing that Cleopatra wear a see-through costume and ride on the back of Hercules' bull. Hans became infuriated: "What have you on your shoulder for heads? Swiss cheese?!"

At that moment, Cleopatra feigned a shoulder injury or sprain, and Hans rushed to her side to massage her bare back, while the group smirked at him. She moaned: "Oh, it's so good to be rubbed" - the card players offered their cards to Cleo, speaking in unison: "Our cards, lady...A couple of rubbers from Berlin!" They burst into boisterous laughter as Hans swore at them in German.

Romance: Venus with Phroso, and News of the Bearded Lady's Baby:

While prepping for the night's show, Phroso told Venus about his "swell dream" of her - she was in a bathing costume standing on a rock like a statue, displaying her great figure:

You were standing in a bathing suit on a rock, you know, like a statue, and the wind was blowing through your hair, and the waves were washing around you. And your figure -- how it stood out. It looked great! Say! You have got a good figure.

Half-boy Johnny Eck entered the scene, crawling using his arms, and he distracted Phroso from Venus as they talked about a new gag he had suggested. Venus interrupted with a further question about Phroso's dream of her:

Then the dream changed. We was in Paris....Yeah, at the opera, right in the front box. We were all dressed up....And did I look swell! Everybody was pointing at me. They were saying, 'That's Phroso, the clown.' And was I embarrassed.

He had been off-screen, changing into an oversized clown tuxedo, and instead of describing more about the dream to Venus, he asked her to hit him on the head with a giant fake rubber mallet. She complied, and his head disappeared inside his collar, and he began clucking like a chicken that had its head cut off. Then, his head popped out and he realized his new gag hadn't amused Venus: "You don't think it's funny? It's sad, is it? Well, it'll just panic 'em. That's how sad it is."

The Stork Woman ran over and whispered into Phroso's ear - with news of the birth of the Bearded Lady's baby. Many of the circus performers and freaks gathered around her bed, as Frances, the Armless Girl, used her foot to lift the bed cover to reveal the infant girl. Phroso exclaimed: "Oh boy, that's great -- and it's gonna have a beard."

Under the big tent where the card game was still being played by Hercules and the Rollo Brothers (and observed by two dwarves), the proud father, the Human Skeleton, handed out cigars from a box for the players - a common custom. One of the brothers joked: "Better luck next time. You might get a couple of Smith Brothers" (a reference to the first cough drops produced and advertised in the US?).

More Interactions: Daisy with Roscoe, Angeleno with the Armless Girl, The Living Torso with Rollo, the Pinheads with Phroso, and Hans with Cleopatra

In their shared wagon, Daisy pleaded with Violet to quit quarreling with her fiancee Roscoe, who entered and told her (with more stuttering) that she should obey him: "I'm the b-b-boss of my home." She objected: "Half of it, you mean." Roscoe ordered his sister-in-law Violet to stay away from tramps who then hung around his wife, and he prohibited her from getting drunk every night ("You gotta cut out gettin' drunk every night, too") - causing her to then suffer in bed with a hangover the next day ("I'm not gonna have my wife laying in bed half the day with your hangover") - in effect, he didn't want Daisy in bed half of every day with Violet's hang-overs!

The Armless Girl Frances sat near Italian dwarf Angeleno (Angelo Rossitto) who was pouring drinks for them, as she spoke to him about the divide between normal people and the 'freaks' - and their own code of solidarity:

Armless Girl: Cleopatra ain't one of us. Why, we're just filthy things to her. She'd spit on Hans if he wasn't giving her presents.
Angeleno: Let her try it. Let her try doing anything to one of us.
Armless Girl: You're right. She don't know us, but she'll find out.

Another of the freaks, The Living Torso or Human Worm (Prince Randian, a bald black man with no arms or legs, and earrings in his ears) was lighting himself a cigarette, using only his lips and teeth, as he listened to one of the Rollo brothers bragging about his acrobatic act and a new feature to be introduced in the future:

I kinda peeked out of the corner of my eye and got Madame Tetrallini giving us the once-over. Huh, I guess she knows she's got a good act -- one of the best in the business. It isn't only our act that gets them. We've got personality. We know how to sell the stuff. Same way in the last town. Never heard such applause in your life. Let me tell ya something that everybody around here don't know. We're only killin' time with this circus. We've got bigger time to follow, and we can do it, too. Well, catch our act tomorrow night. We got something new.

Schlitze, one of the mentally-retarded pinheads, a male transvestite, approached Phroso as he washed his face outside his wagon. Soon after, two other pinheads, introduced as Elvira and Jenny-Lee, joined Schlitze as Phroso delighted 'him' by complimenting his dress, and promised all of them presents from Paris:

Oh, Schlitze, what a pretty dress! Oh, how beautiful you look tonight. You're just a man's woman. You know what I mean? Huh? You. If you're a good girl, when I get to Paris, I'm gonna buy you a big hat, with a long beautiful feather on it. Oh, hello, Elvira. Hello, Jenny-Lee. Hasn't Schlitze got a beautiful dress? Isn't that pretty?...And if you're good girls, when I get to Paris, I'm gonna buy you a hat with a bigger feather on it. (Schlitze complained, although her scolding words were unintelligible) Why, Schlitze, what's the matter? (Schlitze playfully tapped Phroso on his chest) Oh, I'm sorry, Schlitze.

Nearby, the Stork Woman spoke to Frances the Armless Girl as they ate dinner, and were joined by a Rollo brother, who bragged about the applause his act had received during that evening's performance: "Just the Rollo Brothers panicking 'em again. But then we do it in every town. We're so used to it, it's getting monotonous. Say, you wanna take a look at our act tomorrow night."

Cleopatra was being served a rare expensive drink of wine by Hans as she reclined in her bed - noticing how it sparkled. Hans couldn't resist complimenting her and toasting:

Like your eyes, dancing, gay, with bubbles...It comes by the finest vineyards of France....For the most beautiful woman in all the world.

Romance: Phroso with Venus, and the Conjoined Hiltons with Their Two Suitors: Roscoe and Mr. Rogers:

Venus walked up to a large outdoor bathtub where a bare-chested Phroso appeared to be taking a bath and boasting: "I panic the world, because I use my noodle. I think up funny gags. I make the world laugh. With me, clowning is an art. Hey, why the hat? The head cold?" Venus - who was looking straight down at his presumed nakedness, was planning on a town date with him and was slightly impatient after he said he had forgotten. She insisted that he hurry up and get ready: "Well, make it snappy, will ya? I'm all dolled up for the occasion." But then he postponed their date to another time, as he slipped out the false bottom and was wearing pants! He explained he was working on a funny gag or prop involving the tub and a wire-spoked wheel. When she began to sulk, he went over to her and kissed her for the first time - it was the start of a blossoming romance.

Meanwhile, Violet was being romanced by a suitor named Mr. Rogers (Demetrius Alexis), while Daisy was reading a book. To make the handsome man happy, Violet agreed to say yes to Rogers' marital engagement proposal, and they embraced. Nearby, Daisy closed her book, and closed her eyes - feeling her sister's ecstasy. A few moments later, Daisy congratulated her sister's suitor: "And I know Violet will be happy." Both Roscoe and Rogers agreed to meet - an inevitable possibility:

Rogers: Yes, and you must come to see us sometime.
Roscoe: Thanks. You must come to v-v-v-, uh, uh, come to see us sometime, too.

While Phroso was working on his bathtub gag, Roscoe complained about his sister-in-law Violet, for sitting up half the night reading. The two watched as Hans left Cleopatra's wagon and kissed her hand. Roscoe joked with sexual innuendo about her small-statured companion: "Cleo's gone on a d-d-diet!"

Cleopatra's Duplicitous Romance with Hans, and Her Scheming with Hercules:

Frieda hesitantly approached Hans' wagon and knocked on the door. She was there to persuade Hans to give up on his infatuation with Cleopatra because the entire circus was laughing at them, even though he insisted that he was happy with her. She warned him about Cleopatra's hidden contempt, but he wouldn't listen. He apologized for causing her distress, and for not coming to her first when his romance began with Cleopatra:

Hans: Oh, Frieda, I'm so sorry. I don't want to hurt you. But 'Ich Kanne Nicht Helfen.'
Frieda: If you could be happy, Hans, I would not care.
Hans: But I am happy, Frieda. Never in my life was I so happy.
Frieda: No, Hans. You think it only. For you she cannot bring happiness.
Hans: Ah, Frieda! You don't know!
Frieda: But I do, Hans.
Hans: You think because she's so beautiful, and I'm just a mi-
Frieda: Don't, Hans! Please. To me, you're a man. But to her, you're only something to laugh at. The whole circus, they make fun by you and her.
Hans: Let them laugh, they're swine! I love her. They can't hurt me.
Frieda: But they hurt me.
Hans: Frieda, I have been a coward. I should have come to you in the beginning. Please forgive me?
Frieda: Yes, Hans, I forgive you. It is only that you should be happy I want.
Hans: Frieda. You won't worry now, will you?
Frieda: No, I won't worry.

Simultaneously, Cleopatra was showing off a platinum necklace to Hercules- another gift from Hans. He greedily thought of the midget's fortune: "Say, where do you think the little pollywog is getting his money?" He had already sold off an earlier bracelet for 500, and now estimated that the necklace could bring thousands. Cleopatra suggested: "I think next time, I'll take a fur coat." They conspired to drain Hans' finances even further: "Say, that little ape's got ideas about you," but he denied being jealous and aggressively threatened: "I'll squash him like a bug." Hercules hid behind a curtain when Frieda entered and begged Cleo to cease her one-sided romantic charade with Hans:

It's about Hans....It's behind his back, everybody's laughing because he's in love with you...I know you just make fun, but Hans, he does not know this. If he finds out, never again will he be happy....If you marry, it will be at you they laugh and stare!

When Cleo admitted she wouldn't mind being married to a 'dwarf' (she ridiculed with the word DWARP), she tipped her hand to Frieda that she was interested in his money - Frieda inadvertently and unfortunately revealed that Hans had a fortune:

Cleopatra: Nothing like being different. Cleopatra, queen of the earth, married to a dwarp! Ha, ha.
Frieda: (correcting) A dwarf!
Cleopatra: (mocking) A dwarp! Ha, ha.
Frieda: Then it's not for Hans you care! It's the money!
Cleopatra: Money? You - little mind reader.
Frieda: (distressed) Ah, he has told you of the fortune he has inherited. Always he swear to me to tell no one until after we leave the circus.
Cleopatra: A fortune? And fancy you knowing about it, too. Well, I can't be angry at him for that.
Frieda: No! No! You cannot do this!
Cleopatra: No? Hmm, you wait and see.
Frieda: Please, you can't.

After Frieda left, Hercules and Cleopatra plotted to carry through with marriage to Hans, and then with deadly intentions, they would poison him to inherit his entire fortune (Hercules: "A fortune! I bet the little ape's worth billions!")

A fortune, can you beat that? A fortune, and I have him like that. (She snapped her fingers) ... I could marry him. Yes! He would marry me! (For added emphasis, the camera zoomed toward her as she devised a ruthless and wicked plan in her mind) Midgets are not strong. He could get sick.... It could be done, done, I know it.

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