We are all in for a true treat for the next Cult Movie Monday – April 25. The movie that is being screened is a true cult classic. The film is Freaks, directed by Tod Browning, from 1932.
The synopsis of the story can be found under the Special Events section of the ATC website so I am going to skip over that.
Several of the “Freaks” were really side show performers from various touring groups around the world, many having come from the touring company of P.T. Barnum.
Daisy and Violet Hilton really were conjoined twin. It is hinted at in the film that what one twin feels, so does the other. Wink Wink Nudge Nudge. And on another interesting note, it is said that when the charming young ladies entered the studio commissary one day for lunch they were seen by a very hung-over F. Scott Fitzgerald. The sight was so strange to him that he ran to the nearest WC and tossed his cookies.
Harry Earles, who plays the diminutive Hans, was part of the famous Doll Family. In actuality, there were seven siblings in the Schneider family, their names before immigrating from Germany and adopting the name of their American benefactor, but only four of them inherited the recessive gene. Harry was the only boy with it. He was THE actor to call when the part required a small person, and probably best know as one of the Lolipop Guild in The Wizard of Oz.
Schlitzie is one of the true enigma’s of the cast. His true name, date of birth, ethnic origins, and parents are completely unknown. He was born with microphaly, which caused the unusual formation of his skull, and abnormally small brain. This of course, led to greatly diminished capacity, and his care was left many to those he worked for. This sounds almost cruel, but Schlitzie was so enamored with performing for people that when he was forced into an institution at one point he became incredibly depressed. He was recognized by an orderly, who turned out to be a former sideshow performer, and explained to the doctors that what made Schlitzie happy was performing for people. The doctor’s soon agreed and released him into the care of Sam Alexander, a showman who had come to care deeply for the child like man. Schlitzie lived to be 70 years old.