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Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Unseen Freaks: Lost Scenes From Tod Browning's Classic

"They did not ask to be brought into the world, but into the world they came!"

FREAKS (1932) is unlike anything ever seen before and will likely never be seen again. The film's troubled history ended up as a black spot not only for MGM but for its director Tod Browning. Nervous about the film's content, Browning was ordered to remove some of the stronger footage; but after test audiences in San Diego found it not horrific enough, some of the extreme sequences were put back in. The film was a box office disaster (although some areas it did very well) and banned till the 1960s when it was finally recognized for its artistic merits. Unfortunately, that original version of FREAKS (1932) no longer exists... so unless a complete print miraculously surfaces one day, the only way to experience the full power of Browning's horror classic is via the original script.

This article is based on the final draft of FREAKS. There are 46 examples of deletions, additions, and various differences between the script and screen. Images from the movie (as well as three images of cut scenes) have been added to help you get a visual of where in the film the scenes and dialog were intended.

1. In the script, the story begins differently from the film. There is no prologue (shot in post) with a carnival barker (see above) showing off to a horrified audience what "was once a beautiful woman."--This of course, as we find out at the end, is Cleo the trapeze artist. The script begins with Monsieur Duval being led to a clearing by Jean, his Gamekeeper (Scenes 1-9). In the film this sequence starts at 00:04:40.

Scenes 1-9 of the script introduces many of the freaks--most of which we don't see until later in the film. The scripted scene is a bit longer, too. Little Martha (Martha Morris), The Bearded Lady (Jane Barnell), the Siamese Twins (Daisy and Violet Hilton named Rosie and Mamie in the script), and Edith the Turtle Girl are absent in the filmed sequence (although a brief shot of Edith is seen with Mother Tetrallini and Prince Randian; see below); Peter Robinson the Human Skeleton, Angeleno (Angelo Rossitto) and Schlitze (Simon Metz) are held over while Johnny Eck the Half Boy, Elvira and Jennie Lee the Pinheads, The Stork Woman (Elizabeth Green), and Prince Randian are added in their place.

As described in the script, Mother Tetrallini (Rose Dion) is playing with Edith the Turtle Girl in the brook, bobbing her up and down while Edith, born with flippers instead of arms and legs, laughs with joy. Schlitze is plucking the petals from a daisy garbling, "He loves me, he loves me not". They're all dancing and enjoying the moment when Duval and Jean walk upon them. From here the script and movie are briefly the same. Immediately after Mother Tetrallini says, "Have I not told you God looks after all his children?", the script deviates from what ended up onscreen. Cut from the film, Tetrallini asks where is Hans and Frieda, sending Angeleno to find them.

Just before segueing into Scene 10, the script switches back to Duval and Jean retracing their steps (Scene 9). The dialog, which should have been left in the movie, is as follows....

Jean, the Gamekeeper: The evil, horrible things... I'll be dreaming of'em nights... if you'd let me throw'em out I'd thank ye.

Duval: Give your thanks to God... that we are not one of them... and they one of us.

2. Scene 10 features the introduction of Hans and Frieda (played by real life siblings Harry and Daisy Earles). Approximately 3 minutes in length, the two midget love-birds are enjoying the wooded area with a view of the countryside. "It is like heaven here. If I could stay here forever with you", Frieda says to Hans. They converse briefly till Angeleno appears to alert them Mother Tetrallini says it's time to return to the circus. The love between Hans and Frieda is heavily accentuated here. "When Frieda by me gets married, I buy her place much bigger like this--maybe." Angeleno responds, "What a beautiful bride she'll make!"

It would appear this introduction in the woods was discarded or re-shot to be placed right before the intro of Cleopatra (Olga Baclanova) as she finishes up her acrobat act (in the release version). As filmed, the conversation between Hans and Frieda under the Big Top is a condensed version of their original introduction in the wooded area.

3. The scripted Scene 11 had some bits shot that aren't in the screenplay as well as some dialog not in the completed feature. The Rollo Brothers greet Mother Tetrallini in a patronizing fashion. The discarded portion of their conversation, right after Rollo #1 says, "nurse to a lot of mangy freaks" is as follows:

Rollo #2: That old circus cow!

Rollo #1: Yeah, but does she worry about us, the artists that make the show? What does she do last week when Rosita falls and busts her neck? She sends a bunch of geraniums to the morgue.

Rollo #2: And grabs herself another act.

Rollo #1: Yeah.... (in a sarcastic tone) Cleopatra, Queen of the Air!

Continuing in the script, this leads into the first shot of Cleo atop the bars. In the movie, Cleo's first appearance atop the bars is followed by the intro of Hans and Frieda as described above (section 2). An addition to Scene 11 that's not in the script are the Rollo Brothers insulting Josephine Joseph, the half-woman, half-man. This is the first of several appearances of Josephine Joseph that aren't scripted.

4. Scenes 12-24 are condensed in the movie (approximately 3 minutes of footage), with a fair bit of characterization explored without dialog. In these scenes, it becomes obvious much sooner that Cleopatra loves men and uses them. A scene of Hercules (Henry Victor) battling a bull is cut down to a few seconds in the movie; as is Cleo's attraction to him being non-existent at this point.

5. An addition not in the script occurs right after Hans retrieves Cleo's cape she has intentionally let fall to the ground. In it, Frieda notices Hans has been bewitched by the amazonian beauty of this big woman. Both Cleo and Frieda have an exchange. This segues into Scene 25--also not in the movie--that further paints Cleo as a man-eater--a callous, heartless person.

6. As scripted, Scene 26 introduces us to Phroso (Wallace Ford), the hobo clown act. Dragging a fake dog behind him, Cleo teases him with her body language, ensuring he's ogling her figure till she exits the scene into her wagon. When we see him for the first time in the movie, it's during a conversation with Venus (Leila Hyams).

7. The intro of the stuttering Roscoe and the first dialog from Hercules (Scene 28) is slightly different than scripted since it adds Josephine Joseph to the scene, giving Hercules that 'come hither' look. This 2nd appearance of the Hermaphrodite is not in the script; nor the jokey dialog where Roscoe says, "I think she likes you... but he don't!"

8. The 2nd meeting between Cleo and Hans is not scripted; at least not in the way it plays out in Browning's film (00:08:43). In it, she asks for another loan of 1,000 Francs till her money from Paris arrives. Hans is only too anxious to oblige. The actual 2nd meeting in the script comes later in Scenes 55 and 56 (see section 14).

9. Scenes 29-37 have some crucial material cut from the film during the dialog between Hercules and Venus. It's apparent they've had a relationship, although the script goes much farther with it; and also explains in greater detail as to why Venus is leaving him. In the script, Venus's last straw comes after Hercules tried to get her to prostitute herself out to a stranger for a few hundred francs. In the film, it's unclear why she's leaving, save for some dialog that reveals Hercules was using her to take care of him as opposed to the other way around. In the script, Hercules says, "I'm through wasting my time and money on a low-life like you!" In the film, 'low-life' is swapped out for 'things'.

The scene in the film following this exchange, with Venus taking her belongings to her wagon and arguing with Phroso, is our first introduction to him on camera (00:10:42).

10. Scene 44 in the script is only slightly different. It is at this moment when we meet the Siamese Twins as opposed to their scripted intro in Scene 1. Phroso is not washing himself in his basin but exiting his wagon after his talk with Venus. The exchange is longer in the script. Additionally, in the movie, the Twins are called by their real names--Daisy and Violet--unlike the Rosie and Mamie of the script.

11. Scenes 48-54 are virtually identical between script and screen save for two additional scenes wedged between Cleo and Hercules's embrace. It's the 3rd appearance by Josephine Joseph. It was hinted earlier that the hermaphrodite had her/his eyes on the strongman (section 7). Watching the two holding one another, their kiss is interrupted by the freak. Hercules becomes enraged, exits the wagon and slugs Josephine Joseph as Cleo laughs in amusement. This occurs from 00:16:10 to 00:16:37 in the movie.

12. The other added scene is between Hans and Frieda. They have a heated exchange, obviously due to Cleo's interference. The scene ends with Hans requesting 5 lumps of sugar in his coffee! From 00:16:38 to 00:17:40. The lady serving him is Madam Bartet. In other drafts, she had more scenes with Madam Tetrallini, but these were cut.

13. Immediately following the above scene (section 12), we're back in Cleo's wagon; beginning with the dialog, "The little ape sent to Paris for this?" Hans had a fruit basket with wine sent to her wagon. Hercules is inside eating an apple. Hans comes to the door and Cleo feigns taking a bath. He leaves as Cleo and Hercules laugh. A line in the script unused in the film has Hercules say, "The little ape!" just before they embrace and kiss. Occurring later in the script than its placement in the picture, this is Scene 65--approximately 35 minutes in; or page 35 in the script.

14. Scenes 55 and 56 covers the 2nd meeting between Hans and Cleo (section 8). In the script, this scene would take place at approximately 30 minutes in. The scripted scene is mostly the same although Cleo asking for 1,000 Francs is exclusive to the film.

15. Scenes 57-60 make up about 5 minutes of footage. It's a shame these shots were cut as they are the first inclination of Venus falling for Phroso. In this set of shots, Venus, while tending to Freddie the Seal, notices Phroso being mesmerized by Cleo (a repeat of Scene 26; see section 6). As Cleo exits, Venus approaches Phroso....

Venus: What's she after?

Phroso: You asking me? Huh! You dames is all alike--the show's only a side line with you.

Venus: If you'd open your eyes, you'd see!

Phroso: Don't you worry, my eyes are always open.

Venus: Then you must be awful dumb. (near tears) Can't you see, Phroso, I'm jealous? I'm jealous of everything you do.

Phroso: (clueless) Hell, you don't have to be. Our acts don't conflict.

From here, Venus's focus is drawn to her Seal. Having forgotten to lock his box, he has gotten out and is happily following Edith the Turtle Girl (born with flippers for limbs) as she crawls to her wagon. Venus calls to Freddie who returns to her. She scolds the animal for chasing the Turtle Girl before motioning him back into his box. Off screen, Frieda calls to Venus. This leads into Scene 62...

16. Scene 62 is in the movie, but isn't shot as scripted. In the movie, Venus is mending some socks (a later scene in the script cut from the film) while Frieda is hanging out clothes (00:18:52). In the script (page 31--approximately 31 minutes), Frieda is wearing her bareback rider costume when she explains her problem with Hans to Venus. The scripted conversation is altered from what was shot. The dropped dialog involves Venus laughing when Frieda states Hans is in love with Cleopatra. Frieda says, "Please don't laugh by me", to which Venus corrects her English. Frieda responds she wishes no English lessons this day. Venus then takes Frieda seriously. After their talk, an attendant returns with Frieda's pony, having fixed the belly-band. As she exits, Venus exclaims, "Don't let her get your goat. Give her the laugh.... the laugh will be on her anyways."

Like Scene 65 (sections 13,16), there's some additional shuffling of sequences between the script and their placement in the footage as shot. These will be noted.

17. Scenes 68-77 have been drastically altered in the finished film. Not only that, but we're going to jump around again. The next scene in the movie (00:21:33) takes place prior to the one discussed directly above in the script (section 16). The major difference is that this sequence was originally much longer as well as officially introducing Prince Randian, the Human Torso. We'll cover the cut sections first.

Scene 68 describes Phroso wearing a trick clown costume--looking like he's walking on his hands when he's really walking upright (see insert at left). Venus then exits his wagon with the mended socks in her hand (section 16). The resulting deleted dialog is as follows:

Phroso: M-m-m! Now who'd have thought you'd turn out to be a housekeeper.

Venus: I'll mend these... gives me something to do nights after the show.

Phroso: That's great.

Venus: (disappointed that Phroso isn't very thankful for her efforts) I've been staying in lately, you know.

Phroso: Yeah! Catching up on sleep, huh?

Venus: Sleep isn't all a girl needs.

Phroso: No? Help me off with this, will you?

Venus: (helping Phroso remove his costume) Sometimes I think... what's the use?

Phroso: What do you mean, "What's the use?"

Venus: Of trying to be good. What does it get you?

Phroso: It'll get you a lot--when the right guy comes along.

Prince Randian: Say, Phroso... did you try that gag I told you about?

Phroso: Yeah, it's great. Wait, I'll show it to you.

Randian then rolls himself a cigarette. Meanwhile, Venus is becoming increasingly frustrated...

Venus: The right guy, huh! You don't even know I'm alive!

The film then picks up where the script continues. This is the moment where Phroso says he had a dream about Venus the night before (00:21:34). He compliments her on her figure. He asks her to hit him with a fake sledgehammer. In the movie, Johnny Eck the Half Boy is used instead of Randian. Eck says the dialog originally written for the Human Torso. Aside from some extra bits of unscripted dialog, the scene now continues as written, leading into Koo Koo (Elizabeth Green, The Stork Girl in the movie although she too was sometimes billed as Koo Koo) alerting Phroso the Bearded Lady's baby was born. However, one deviation is a shot of Venus standing motionless, brushing off Phroso's jacket and re-entering his wagon as Phroso, Randian and Koo Koo run and or crawl off to the Bearded Lady's wagon.

18. Scene 78 has a slight deviation. As Phroso enters the Bearded Lady's domicile, Schlitze adjusts her dress and looks longingly at Phroso. It's not as apparent in the movie, but it's made obvious in the script on more than one occasion that Schlitze has a crush on Phroso; such as the plucking flower petals in the opening scene of the script (section 1). There's some extra dialog in the movie, too. Phroso asks what sex is the baby. Learning it's a girl he responds with, "Oh, boy, that's great and it's going to have a beard!"

19. Scenes 79-87 begin at 00:20:20 in the film and approximately 43 minutes per the script (page 43). This is the scene where Hercules and the Rollo Bros. make light of Hans. Cleo gets in on the act but Hans is oblivious to her intent while he rubs her back. The scene begins with additional dialog not scripted...

Rollo #1: Why not pink tights? You know, with spangles all around. It will show her figure off more.

Then there are exchanges in the script that are not in the film... immediately after Hans says, "What have you on your shoulders for heads? Swill pails?" (In the movie 'Swiss Cheese' is substituted)...

Cleo: I'll bet a lady shouldn't hear that one.

Hans: Nor even a pig.

Rollo #2: What did you listen for?

The scene continues as scripted with Hans calling the three men a bunch of bad names in German but translated into English in the script: "You're not fit to talk to a woman! You belong in the gutter, you low-down filthy rats! Rats! Rats! That's what you are!"

20. Immediately following Scene 78, there's an unscripted scene of the Human Skeleton bringing Hercules and the Rollo Bros. cigars for his baby, born of the Bearded Lady. 

21. Scenes 88-91 between Roscoe and his wife Daisy and Violet (called Mamie and Rosie in the script) largely play the same between script and film. The differences are that the script intended for us to see where the twins were joined together. The other added moment not present in the film occurs right after the twins exit their wagon...

Rosie (Violet): I won't do it anymore. I guess you're right, Mamie (Daisy). It must be terrible to go through life stuttering.

22. The next 4 sequences in the movie (00:25:10--00:28:10) are not scripted; or are in the script but altered in some way. These are bits that allow some of the other freaks in the cast to have a moment to shine. 

First up is the scene between Angeleno and his wife Little Martha. It is the first hint that the freaks have a penchant for violence should they be crossed. 

The second is the official introduction of Prince Randian in the movie. One of the Rollo Bros. is talking to him as he lights a cigarette. We don't see him roll it as an earlier scripted scene did.

The next is the most substantive since a portion of it is scripted while a chunk of it was cut from the film. In it, Schlitze is showing off her new dress to Phroso as he compliments how pretty she looks in it. This scene takes place much earlier in the script. It follows Scene 62 and precedes Scene 65. The movie has additional dialog between Phroso and Schlitze that's not in the script. Pin Heads Elvira and Jennie Lee enter. In the script their names are Daffodil and Buttercup. In a deviation from the film, it states Schlitze, "in a jealous fury", chases the two other Pin Heads away. Cut from the film, Phroso then turns to Venus and grins...

Phroso: Schlitze is jealous of me.

Venus: (mocking Phroso) My, my, what a beautiful pink dress! Oh, how pretty you look.

Phroso then imitates Schlitze. Venus becomes angry and slaps Phroso's face. As she turns to walk away, Phroso kicks her in the rear-end and yells....

Phroso: Don't forget next Tuesday!

The cutting of this is obvious although the loss of the last line muddles a later sequence wherein Venus has gotten all dolled up for her and Phroso's big date (Scene 93).

The 4th extra sequence is between Koo Koo (Elizabeth Green) and Frances O'Connor (armless woman). One of the Rollo Brothers enters and gloats about his act while we see Frances eating and drinking with her feet. The film fades out to....

23. Scene 92 is roughly 49 minutes into the script and begins at 00:28:15 in the actual movie; Hans and Cleo drink wine from "the finest vineyards in France". It cuts to Scene 93 with Phroso in a tub and Venus comes out all dressed up for her date. Aside from additional dialog, there's major differences between Venus's character in the script and what ended up on-screen. In the film, Venus is disappointed that Phroso breaks their date, but moments later, all is forgotten once he unexpectedly kisses her. They're officially an item.... not so in the script. The following dialog (Scenes 98-105) comes after Phroso breaks the date, some of which is in the film. The surviving dialog is noted with an asterisk....

Venus: I'm tired of sitting around like a sap. I'm going to look for a couple of sailors, see the town, and have some fun.

Phroso: (angrily) All right. Have a lot of fun. Get four sailors. Sailors don't care.

Angry, Venus stomps off into her wagon and slams the door behind her. 

Phroso: Aw, nuts!

Roscoe enters the scene.

Roscoe: What's the matter?

Phroso: Women are the bunk! You slave your brains out figuring how to take care of them and they're never satisfied. 

Roscoe: Don't I know it. Look at my sister-in-law. She sits up most of the night reading.

Phroso: Well that's tough... (turns his head to avoid laughing)

*Roscoe: I'll say... (looks towards Cleo's wagon) 

*Hans is coming out. He bows and kisses her hand.

*Roscoe: Cleo's gone on a diet.

*Phroso laughs. 

Meanwhile, Venus, inside her wagon, hears the laughing and thinks they're laughing at her.

Venus: So it's funny, is it? Go ahead and laugh. I'm a sap. I admit it. But thanks for opening my eyes.

Roscoe: What are letting that tramp bawl you out for?

Phroso: Tramp!

Roscoe: Sure, didn't Hercules have to kick her out?

Phroso leads Roscoe behind the wagon...

Phroso: So you know all about her?

Roscoe: Didn't she make a play for me, knowing I was married?

Phroso: You too, huh?

Roscoe: Sure, the dirty tramp....

Phroso takes a swing at Roscoe, planting a fist right in his mouth.

24. Following Phroso and Venus's onscreen embrace is an unscripted scene inside the wagon of The Siamese Twins (00:30:42). Violet is now engaged to a Mr. Rogers. They kiss. Daisy, reading a book, becomes enraptured, feeling the passion of the kiss between her sister and her beau. The scene picks up again when Roscoe enters. Intended as humor, Mr. Rogers says, "You must come to see us sometime."

25. Scenes 111-117 are identical between script and screen save for a few lines that were likely changed because of there crudeness. It's an excerpt of Scene 115 when Frieda confronts Cleo about marrying a dwarf....

Frieda: Then you'd marry a dwarf.

Cleo: Sure.

Frieda: With dwarf's blood. It makes you think, doesn't it?

Cleo: Aw, get out of here! I'd marry him if he had mule's blood in him.

26. Scene 118 precedes the infamous 'Wedding Feast'. There are quite a few differences in this, one of the film's key sequences; and the portion of the film that most closely resembles the source material, 'Spurs', by Tod Robbins. Before the big dinner, the Rollo Brothers are playing cards with Eddie the Tiger Tamer. In the background, Hercules and Cleo are laughing.

Rollo #1: Listen at the big hunk of beef.

Rollo #2: Yeah. And he says to me, 'Ain't you going to the wedding feast?' Me break bread with a lotta mangy freaks!

27. Scenes 119-124 begins inside the tent where the wedding feast is taking place. We're introduced to an armless character that's not in the actual movie; an homage to the Chaney character of the same name from Browning's THE UNKNOWN (1927). Alonzo the Armless holds a wine glass with his foot. Standing on one leg, he is about to propose a toast. Edith the Turtle Girl is written as being in attendance, but we never see her in the sequence as filmed. The Freak Woman is mentioned but this character--whoever it was intended to be--is nowhere to be found. As the party-goers laugh and drink, Professor Denaud the Sword-Swallower speaks up...

Sword-Swallower: Silence! Silence! Can't you stop swilling your bellies full for a moment and show respect for the bride and groom?

The Professor gestures towards Alonzo the Armless....

Alonzo: Thanks, Professor. To the bride and groom! May all their troubles... be little ones!

Roscoe: Let's give a show for the bride and groom. Me and the better half will do a dance.

Rosie (Violet in the film): Better half! There's no better half. We're both the same.

Roscoe: Well, how do I know? I only married Mamie (Daisy).

Scene 124 showcases the Twins playing the saxophone, Angeleno on the Ocarina; Koo Koo climbs onto the table and begins her dance.

28. Scenes 125-129 occur away from the feast in Phroso's wagon. He's spent his evening pasting together a poster of his act with Venus and Freddie the Seal. He calls out to Venus but is told by the Rollo Bros. that she has went out for the evening and if he asked, she was looking for her 4 sailors. Phroso is no longer smiling; a great sadness overtakes his face.

29. Scene 130 is back to the freak tent with Koo Koo feverishly dancing atop the table. This is the first shot we see of 'The Wedding Feast' in the movie. Other than Roscoe joyfully yelling for Koo Koo to give somebody else a chance at dancing tabletop, the film follows the script till right after a drunken Cleo embarrasses Hans by laying a big smooch on the lips of Hercules. Seeing this, Roscoe gets carried away...

Roscoe: Let's all kiss the bride!

The freaks begin climbing the table awaiting their turn to kiss Cleo.

Hercules: No you won't! I'll do the kissing for you! A kiss for each and everyone of you!

As they kiss yet again, Hans and Frieda look to each other in humiliation. 

Cleo: What a night! What a world! If this could last forever!

She reaches for more wine but Hans stops her.

Hans: No more.

Cleo: No more what?

Hans: Wine.

Cleo: (laughing hysterically) Ain't a wife entitled to float in wine on her wedding night? Ain't I your wife?

Hans: When you drink so much, you forget it.

Outside of a slight difference in one line of dialog, the film continues following the script with the line from the inebriated Cleo laughing uncontrollably, "You little green-eyed monster...." Once the chant of "Gooble Gobble, we accept her, one of us" begins, and the "loving cup" is passed around, the script describes the freaks "drooling into the cup".

Angeleno: Drink! We accept you as one of us!

After Cleo scorns the freaks in detestation, her scripted line to Hans, "You spineless little runt! To sit there and let them insult your wife!" is not in the movie.

30. Once this sequence finishes, the film dissolves to Hans in Cleo's wagon with Hercules apologizing, claiming to have been so drunk, they didn't realize what they were saying. In the script, there's a scene bridging the two. A drunk Venus is at a French tavern, the last customer before closing time. The following makes up Scenes 157-159 that have been cut from the movie.

Proprietor: It's late. We've got to close up.

Venus: I get your idea. I got it an hour ago. One more... come on.

Proprietor: No.

Venus: I hope all your children will be clowns! I hope they'll all have broken hearts... and I hope they'll want a drink and no one will ever give it to'em.

Meanwhile, Phroso sits on his steps watching for Venus to return home.

31. Scenes 168-174 features cut and altered shots. These bits take place approximately 84 minutes into the movie if shot as scripted. Venus witnesses Cleo taking Hans, passed out from the drugged wine, back to his wagon late at night after the wedding. In the movie, we never see Venus watching this unfold. Continuing in the script, Phroso sees her but she doesn't see him. She enters Cleo's wagon where Hercules is nervously drinking....

Hercules: The wedding bells... they was too much for the bridegroom.

Venus: So I noticed.

Hercules: You should have been there. It was a riot! Let me pour you a drink and tell you about it.

Outside, Phroso, seeing Venus inside the cabin with Hercules, thinks he's lost her back to the conniving strongman.

Hercules: The little worm's got baskets of it... the finest wine you ever tasted. 

Venus: I didn't think there was a thing in the world as low as you are.... but there is. (pointing to Han's wagon) She's lower! Marrying a freak to get his money so the both of you can wallow in it!

32. Scenes 175-176. It's the next day and everyone's gathered around Hans's wagon awaiting to learn if he'll be alright.

Rollo #1: You'd think the world was coming to an end (he spits) just because a mangy freak's got a hang-over.

The film follows the script for the duration of the scene inside Hans's wagon with the doctor, and the discovery the little man has been poisoned. 

33. Scene 180. The shot of Hercules nervously smoking a cigarette contained cut shots of Little Martha and Edith the Turtle Girl moving past his wagon giving him mean looks. Then Venus comes past...

Venus: He's well liked in the show... isn't he? Too bad if anything happens.

34. In the script, this fades out to a shot of the circus acts going on (Scene 181); leading in to the scene in the film where Cleo prepares her next batch of poison medicine for Hans before going out to do her act. Once she leaves and Hans mocks her 'Wedding Feast' remarks ("Dirty... slimy... freaks!!") with malevolent glee, the film cuts to the finale. However, in the script, there's some additional action before the infamous final moments.

35. Scenes 192-193. Hercules is putting on his costume when Prince Randian crawls by staring at him. Venus appears again, pantomiming she's inside a prison cell...

Venus: Prison bars... I'll bet you can just do that to them...

Hercules: (in an angry tone) What do you mean?

Venus: In case anything happens to the midget. Just that.... (repeats the pantomime) step right out of them.

In the movie, Venus and the few shots of freaks with anger in their faces is condensed into the one scene before nightfall.

36. Scene 196. The freaks are all in one wagon. "A horrible freak woman" is at the back peering out the window into the storm. Looking back at the other freaks with a "hideous smile on her face"...

Freak Woman: We accept her.... she's one of us. (Laughing raucously as the others join in) 'dirty... slimy... freaks'!

37. Scenes 199-200. Frieda feels something bad is going to happen so she sends her attendant to fetch Phroso, "Tell Phroso I want him. I must see him." The man drops from the wagon and rushes to Phroso's wagon as the rain pours and the thunder and lightning roar in the night. These two sequences were extraneous and not necessary so their exclusion doesn't hurt anything.

38. Scenes 201-206 plays just as scripted, only the filmed footage replaces a knife-wielding Schlitze with midget Jerry Austin; a revolver-carrying Human Skeleton for Johnny Eck the Half-Boy. Angeleno, playing his ocarina, made it from script to screen, though.

39. Hercules exiting his wagon to go kill Venus is swapped around in the script. In the movie it is seen right after Josephine Joseph says, "Soon we go". In the script, it occurs right after Frieda and Phroso have their conversation about the freaks' revenge and Hercules' intention to kill Venus for knowing too much.

40. Scene 212 is cut from the film. In it, Hercules goes to Venus's wagon and kills her driver. He offers the man his flask of liquor and as he drinks, Hercules strangles him.

41. Scene 221. In the script, Hercules, while trying to strangle Phroso to death, has his leg broke by one of the runaway wagons. In the film, Jerry Austin throws a knife into his side, prompting him to let go of Phroso's throat. This sequence where the freaks make their way through the mud and downpour of rain is one of only two times shots of Edith the Turtle Girl are shown in the release version (see insert; at right behind Angeleno).

42. Neither Schlitze or the Human Skeleton pursue Cleo as scripted. Schlitze goes after Hercules and the Skeleton isn't seen during the final assault at all.

43. Scenes 224-228. Phroso is looking for Venus. Cleo is frantically trying to find a safe-haven from the enraged freaks. She's confronted by "a mule-faced woman" who pursues her. Venus is carrying Frieda in her arms while shouting for Phroso. Hercules crawls towards her, grabs her skirt and tries to pull her down to him to end her life. Cleo continues running through the mud and rain. Lightning illuminates the freaks as they chase after her. Lightning strikes a tree that falls onto her legs before she can move out of the way in time. The freaks swarm all around her. We can't see what's happening but hear Cleo's screams.

44. Scene 229. The fire is out and Mother Tetrallini rushes to the location where Cleo had fallen...

Mother Tetrallini: Get the lanterns, quick! The lanterns!

45. Scenes 230-234. The freaks disband. while wagon drivers search for survivors. Hans is climbing out of a ditch when Phroso pulls him out. The drivers find Cleo who is no longer screaming. All that's described in the script that the viewer sees is one of her legs. A driver is shocked at the horror but we never see it. The driver calls out for help to take Cleo to a hospital. Meanwhile, Hercules has managed to pull himself inside a wagon. He tries to close the door but the freaks pour inside after breaking the door.

46. Scenes 235-243 finds the location has changed to London at Tetrallini's Freaks and Music Hall (see insert photos). It is three years later. Patrons are ogling the various freaks and attractions. Mother Tetrallini is holding a photograph of Hans (who now uses a cane) with Frieda and a baby in her arms. It is signed, 'To Phroso and Venus, with love, from Hans and Frieda'....

Mother Tetrallini: Well, well, so, they're married, and have a baby.

Venus: Yes, we were at their wedding three years ago in Australia. 

Mother Tetrallini: Three years! It seems only yesterday they were working for me.

Phroso: Say, you've got a nice joint. Swell lay-out. How are you doing?

Mother Tetrallini: Paying expenses... it lets them work. Better than putting up for the winter.

Venus: I see you've got the old bunch with you.

Mother Tetrallini: Yes, and Cleo is with me too.

Phroso: Cleo? Oh, yes, in a music hall.

Mother Tetrallini: No, in the first pit over there.

Venus: Cleo in a pit?

Mother Tetrallini: Yes, she's working as a freak now.

Phroso and Venus hear duck sounds coming from the pit. As they walk over, "and as they look down, Cleo, horribly mutilated, is dressed as a duck woman. Her legs are gone, one eye is gone, her nose is broken, scars are on her face...."

Venus: Cleo!

The duck woman looks up at Venus as if it briefly recognizes what was once its name then goes back to quacking again. They return to Tetrallini....

Venus: Oh, it's too horrible, too wicked. That beautiful creature!

Mother Tetrallini: Yes, I guess it's best she can't remember.

Phroso: Yeah, tough break. And that sweetie of hers--Hercules--what became of him?

Mother Tetrallini: Hercules... he, too, has changed a lot. He's working in the Music Hall now.... yes, his act's on next.

Phroso and Venus look in the direction of the Music Hall and as an act makes their exit, Hercules takes the stage, a little overweight and wearing a tux. An orchestra begins playing 'The Rosary'. Hercules opens his mouth to sing and the elegant voice of a tenor comes out. He's been castrated! Now lacking his manhood, the so-called Hercules sings as the sound of a duck quacking can be heard as the film fades to black... 'The End'.

As you can see, this was a much more horrifying finish. If you've seen the movie, the finale is still shocking yet abrupt, closing out on the carnival barker from the beginning; revealing the fate of Cleo--the one surviving shot from the original finale... "How she got that way will never be known. Some say a jealous lover. Others... that it was the code of the freaks.... others the storm... believe it or not, there she is..." The last scene, tacked on after disastrous test screenings, sees Phroso and Venus visiting Hans and Frieda at home; Hans still shaken over his actions on that fateful night.


Dick said...

Epic post Brian ! Fascinating stuff. I still remember reading about this movie as a kid and seemingly waiting years to be able to watch it. I finally saw it at a midnight showing at some point in the mid 70's. Still keep hoping the footage will be unearthed one day.


venoms5 said...

I first read about it in Famous Monsters of Filmland in the early 1980s, and didn't see it till around 89 or so when it aired on TCM on Halloween.

dracoola666 said...

Great reading!thx from Germany

Double t said...

Are any of the cut scenes or dialogue included in the 90s comic book version of Freaks that Fantagraphic published under their Monster Comics imprint?

Scare hunter said...

It's too bad the original ending had to be taken out I wanted to see that scene as soon as I heard about it.

David Thiel said...

Thanks for researching this! I watched the movie last night, and was looking for more information about the cut scenes.

I’m going to take the contrary view that the truncated version has the more horrific ending. The fallen tree turns what happens to Cleopatra into an Act of God. True, it might still be that the “freaks” exacted their revenge after surrounding her, but the fact that three years later Venus and Phroso assume that she’s a music hall performer makes me think that the amputations occurred at a hospital after the fact.

Without the fallen tree as a convenient “out,” the implication becomes that the “freaks” were responsible for her physical transformation. The carnival barker saying that it might have been the storm comes off as a flimsy attempt at exoneration.

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