Making Freaks, 1931

I’ve looked at Tod Browning’s 1932 cult horror film Freaks before, a few weeks ago when I found out some previously unknown information about one of the cast, the “Half Man-Half Woman” Josephine Joseph here

Tod Browning

Tod Browning


I also found this little gossipy snippet from The Burnley News dating back to when the film was in production in 1931. It talks about how the subject of the film was kept under wraps during the making of it, and the egos of the cast members, all of whom would have been used to being star of their own particular show, I expect.

The Burnley News, December 19th, 1931,
The Burnley News, December 19th, 1931

A NEW METRO-GOLDWYN-MEYER PRODUCTION

Temperament is not exclusive to the Garbos and Deitrich’s [sic]. Even the bearded ladies, Siamese twins, half men-half women, sword swallowers and other familiar figures of the circus show have it – and to a greater extent than any dozen prima donnas. Tod Browning says so. The man who is used to handling weird characters in his films – the late Lon Chaney adopted some of his most amazing guises under Browning’s direction – has all the varieties that Barnum ever brought together and a few more besides, under his command for his new Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer production which bears the apt title “Freaks”.

He is finding the petty jealousies and differences make them anything but a happy family and that a great deal of diplomacy is required to prevent friction running riot. Browning is also called upon to ensure strict secrecy on the “Freaks” set in order that the inside working of the film does not leak out. Every member of the unit has meals on the stage, and at the end of the day’s work the freaks are conveyed straight to the apartment house where they are quartered.

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