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.