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June 2010

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Monday, June 21, 2010 Freaks

Poster for Freaks, the 1932 Tod Browning film - window of Larry Edmunds Books, Hollywood Boulevard

In 1931 Tod Browning convinced MGM production supervisor Irving Thalberg to let him direct and produce a horror film about sideshow performers, Freaks. It might have seemed like a good idea at the time, but when it was released on February 20, 1932, it was a disaster. Browning cast real people with deformities as the sideshow "freaks" he grew up in the circus world and decided against using costumes and makeup. He went with the real thing. Of course these physically deformed "freaks" are inherently trusting and honorable people, while the real monsters are two of the "normal" members of the circus they're out to murder one of the performers to get their hands on his large inheritance. But it was too much, visually a lot of it was cut, and then more was removed - one woman threatened to sue MGM, claiming the film had caused her to suffer a miscarriage. The film was banned in the United Kingdom for thirty years. Browning's career was over and there's no complete print anywhere, just this poster in the window of a bookstore on Hollywood Boulevard.

At the time F. Scott Fitzgerald was living here on Laurel Avenue and working as a screenwriter at MGM down the hill in Culver City and the story is that he was nursing a hangover in the studio commissary late one morning and looked up from his eggs and toast or whatever to see the Siamese twin sisters from the Browning film walking in to order lunch. "What shall we have today?" Fitzgerald ran to the bathroom and vomited. But Hollywood is like that freaks everywhere.

Arrow Face, Hollywood Boulevard
Eyes, shop window, Hollywood Boulevard
Masked Mannequin, shop window, Hollywood Boulevard
Masked Mannequin, shop window, Hollywood Boulevard Betty Boop and Marilyn Monroe, Hollywood Boulevard
Marilyn Monroe, Hollywood Boulevard
Metal Hat, shop window, Hollywood Boulevard
Kate Smith, Hollywood Boulevard

At the star for Edward Everett Horton

Edgar Bergman and Charley McCarthy - roll-down door, Hollywood Boulevard
Edgar Bergman and Charley McCarthy - roll-down door, Hollywood Boulevard
Edgar Bergman and Charley McCarthy - roll-down door, Hollywood Boulevard
World's Tallest Man, Guinness Book of World Records Museum, Hollywood Boulevard
Spanish language poster for Forbidden Planet - window of Larry Edmunds Books, Hollywood Boulevard
Chucky, Gone with the Wind

If you wish to use any of these photos for commercial purposes I assume you'll discuss that with me. And should you choose to download any of these images and use them invoking the "fair use" provisions of the Copyright Act of 1976, please provide credit, and, on the web, a link back to this site.

Technical Note:

These photographs were taken with a Nikon D200 the lenses used were AF-S Nikkor 18-70 mm 1:35-4.5G ED, or AF Nikkor 70-300 mm telephoto. The high-resolution photography here was modified for web posting using Adobe Photoshop 7.0 software.

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All text and photos unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 - Alan M. Pavlik

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