Best Movies Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain  

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List Rules The best films whose copyrights have expired. Includes all films made before 1923 and films that failed to renew copyright

The best free movies in the public domain number among some of the best movies of all time, and since their copyrights have lapsed, they are free to watch, distribute, and remake. Many of these free films in the public domain were once high-grossing, Academy Award-winning movies that have since become open to public use. Classic movies like The Wizard of Oz, Metropolis, and Metropolis are now part of the general public experience.

What is the best film in the public domain? What Oscar winning films are now free to use? What are the greatest films whose copyrights have lapsed? Vote on the movies you think are the best available in the public domain. If you know of a movie that is now free to public use and not here on this list of the best films in the public domain, make sure to add it and vote it up so others can have a chance to find their new favorite movie in the public domain.
list ordered by

1
414 138
Ranker Video
George A. Romero, Duane Jones, Bill Hinzman Night of the Living Dead is a 1968 American independent zombie horror film directed by George A. Romero, starring Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea and Karl Hardman. It premiered on October 1, 1968, and ...more

2
217 53
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Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy His Girl Friday is a 1940 American screwball comedy film directed by Howard Hawks, from an adaptation by Charles Lederer, Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur of the play The Front Page by Hecht and ...more

3
159 42
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Lon Chaney, Norman Kerry, Mary Philbin The Phantom of the Opera is a 1925 American silent horror film adaptation of Gaston Leroux's 1910 novel Le Fantôme de l'Opéra, directed by Rupert Julian and starring Lon Chaney, Sr. ...more

4
162 57
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Vincent Price, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart, Umberto Raho The Last Man on Earth is a 1964 science fiction horror film based on the Richard Matheson 1954 novel I Am Legend. The film was directed by Ubaldo Ragona and Sidney Salkow, and stars Vincent ...more

5
117 37
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Lon Chaney, Ernest Torrence, Raymond Hatton The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a 1923 American film starring Lon Chaney, directed by Wallace Worsley, and produced by Carl Laemmle and Irving Thalberg. The supporting cast includes Patsy Ruth ...more

6
184 49
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Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Coburn Charade is a 1963 Technicolor American romantic comedy/mystery film directed by Stanley Donen, written by Peter Stone and Marc Behm, and starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. The cast also ...more

7
158 72
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Jack Nicholson, Dick Miller, Mel Welles The Little Shop of Horrors is a 1960 American comedy horror film directed by Roger Corman. Written by Charles B. Griffith, the film is a farce about an inadequate florist's assistant who ...more

8
135 48
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Charlie Chaplin, Mack Swain, Georgia Hale The Gold Rush is a 1925 American silent comedy film written, produced, and directed by Charlie Chaplin. The film also stars Chaplin in his Little Tramp persona, Georgia Hale, Mack Swain, Tom ...more

9
105 39
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Reza Badiyi, Herk Harvey, Candace Hilligoss Carnival of Souls is a 1962 independent horror film starring Candace Hilligoss. Produced and directed by Herk Harvey for an estimated $33,000, the film did not gain widespread attention when ...more

10
94 33
The General is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Boris Karloff, Mike Donlin, Glen Cavender The General is a 1926 American silent comedy film released by United Artists. Inspired by the Great Locomotive Chase, which happened in 1862, the film stars Buster Keaton who co-directed it with ...more

11
111 59
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John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Stefanie Powers McLintock! is a 1963 comedy Western directed by Andrew V. McLaglen and starring John Wayne, with co-stars including Maureen O'Hara, Yvonne De Carlo, and Wayne's son Patrick Wayne. The film, ...more

12
89 34
D.O.A. is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Edmond O'Brien, Beverly Garland, Neville Brand D.O.A., a film noir drama film directed by Rudolph Maté, is considered a classic of the genre. The frantically paced plot revolves around a doomed man's quest to find out who has poisoned ...more

13
80 32
Meet John Doe is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Barbara Stanwyck, Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan Meet John Doe is a 1941 American comedy drama film directed and produced by Frank Capra, and starring Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck. The film is about a "grassroots" political ...more

14
59 30
The Little Princess is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Mary Pickford, ZaSu Pitts, Theodore Roberts The Little Princess is a 1917 American silent film directed by Marshall Neilan based upon the novel A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. This version is notable for having been adapted ...more

15
66 33
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Gary Cooper, Helen Hayes, Adolphe Menjou A Farewell to Arms is a 1932 American romance drama film directed by Frank Borzage and starring Helen Hayes, Gary Cooper, and Adolphe Menjou. Based on the 1929 semi-autobiographical novel A ...more

16
66 33
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Bob Hope, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby Road to Bali is a 1952 American comedy film directed by Hal Walker and starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Dorothy Lamour. Released by Paramount Pictures on November 1, 1952, the film is the ...more

17
51 30
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Patrick Magee, William Campbell, Luana Anders Dementia 13 is a 1963 horror-thriller released by American International Pictures, starring William Campbell, Patrick Magee, and Luana Anders. The film was written and directed by Francis Ford ...more

18
64 33
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Mae Questel, Jack Mercer, Gus Wickie Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor is a two-reel animated cartoon short subject in the Popeye Color Feature series, produced in Technicolor and released to theatres on November 27, 1936 ...more

19
55 30
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Bela Lugosi, Clarence Muse, Madge Bellamy White Zombie is a 1932 American independent Pre-Code horror film directed and produced by brothers Victor Halperin and Edward Halperin. The screenplay by Garnett Weston, based on The Magic ...more

20
53 28
Cyrano de Bergerac is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
José Ferrer, William Prince, Mala Powers Cyrano de Bergerac is a 1950 black-and-white feature film based on the 1897 French Alexandrine verse drama Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand. It uses poet Brian Hooker's 1923 English blank ...more

21
42 19
Detour is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Ann Savage, Tom Neal, Tim Ryan Detour is a 1945 film noir thriller that stars Tom Neal and Ann Savage. The film was adapted by Martin Goldsmith and Martin Mooney from Goldsmith's novel of the same name and was directed by ...more

22
63 40
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Dave O'Brien, Carleton Young, Harry Harvey Jr. Reefer Madness is a 1936–1939 American propaganda exploitation drama film revolving around the melodramatic events that ensue when high school students are lured by pushers to try marijuana—from ...more

23
44 24
Angel and the Badman is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
John Wayne, Gail Russell, Harry Carey Angel and the Badman is a 1947 American Western film written and directed by James Edward Grant and starring John Wayne, Gail Russell, Harry Carey and Bruce Cabot. The film is about an injured ...more

24
50 33
A Star Is Born is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Janet Gaynor, Fredric March, Adolphe Menjou A Star Is Born is a 1937 Technicolor romantic drama film produced by David O. Selznick and directed by William A. Wellman, with a script by Wellman, Robert Carson, Dorothy Parker and Alan ...more

25
45 29
My Favorite Brunette is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Peter Lorre, Dorothy Lamour, Lon Chaney My Favorite Brunette is a 1947 American romantic comedy film directed by Elliott Nugent and starring Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour. Written by Edmund Beloin and Jack Rose, the film is about a baby ...more

26
39 25
Nothing Sacred is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Carole Lombard, Hattie McDaniel, Margaret Hamilton Nothing Sacred is a 1937 Technicolor screwball comedy film directed by William A. Wellman, produced by David O. Selznick, and starring Carole Lombard and Fredric March. with a supporting cast ...more

27
42 30
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Marilyn Hanold, Eddie Carmel, Jason Evers The Brain That Wouldn't Die is a 1962 American science-fiction/horror film directed by Joseph Green and written by Green and Rex Carlton. The film was completed in 1959 under the working title ...more

28
42 30
Disorder in the Court is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Larry Fine, Moe Howard, Curly Howard Disorder in the Court is the 15th short subject starring American slapstick comedy team the Three Stooges. The trio made a total of 190 shorts for Columbia Pictures between 1934 and 1959.

29
37 28
Little Lord Fauntleroy is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Mickey Rooney, Dolores Costello, C. Aubrey Smith Little Lord Fauntleroy is a 1936 drama film based on the 1886 novel of the same name by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The film stars Freddie Bartholomew, Dolores Costello, and C. Aubrey Smith. The ...more

30
36 29
Father's Little Dividend is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Elizabeth Taylor, Spencer Tracy, Joan Bennett Father's Little Dividend is a 1951 comedy film directed by Vincente Minnelli and starring Spencer Tracy, Joan Bennett, and Elizabeth Taylor. The movie is the sequel to Father of the Bride. ...more

31
24 15
The Strange Love of Martha Ive... is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Kirk Douglas, Barbara Stanwyck, Judith Anderson The Strange Love of Martha Ivers is a black-and-white film noir released in the United States in 1946, starring Barbara Stanwyck, Van Heflin, Lizabeth Scott and featuring Kirk Douglas in his ...more

32
36 29
Topper Returns is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Joan Blondell, Carole Landis, Roland Young Topper Returns is the third and final entry in the initial series of films inspired by the novels of Thorne Smith. It followed Topper and Topper Takes a Trip. As in the prior movies, Roland ...more

33
35 29
Africa Screams is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Lou Costello, Shemp Howard, Hillary Brooke Africa Screams is a 1949 American adventure comedy film starring Abbott and Costello and directed by Charles Barton that parodied the safari genre. The title is a play on the title of the 1930 ...more

34
28 20
Gulliver's Travels is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Pinto Colvig, Jack Mercer, Lanny Ross Gulliver's Travels is a 1939 American cel-animated Technicolor feature film, directed by Dave Fleischer and produced by Max Fleischer for Fleischer Studios. The film was released on December 22, ...more

35
26 18
Royal Wedding is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Fred Astaire, Keenan Wynn, Jane Powell Royal Wedding is a 1951 MGM musical comedy film starring Fred Astaire and Jane Powell, with music by Burton Lane and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner. The film was directed by Stanley Donen; it was his ...more

36
24 27
The Terror is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Jack Nicholson, Boris Karloff, Dick Miller The Terror is a low budget American horror film produced and directed by Roger Corman about a French soldier who finds a mysterious woman who turns out to be a ghost. It is famous for being ...more

37
34 31
Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Ba... is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Mae Questel, Jack Mercer, Gus Wickie Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba's Forty Thieves is a two-reel animated cartoon short subject in the Popeye Color Feature series, produced in Technicolor and released to theatres on November 26, ...more

38
34 40
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Harold P. Warren, William Bryan Jennings, Jackey Neyman Jones Manos: The Hands of Fate is a 1966 American low budget horror film written, directed, produced by, and starring Harold P. Warren. It is widely recognized to be one of the worst films ever made. ...more

39
19 14
Malice in the Palace is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Larry Fine, Moe Howard, Curly Howard Malice in the Palace is the 117th short subject starring American slapstick comedy team the Three Stooges. The trio made a total of 190 shorts for Columbia Pictures between 1934 and 1959.

40
25 23
Algiers is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Hedy Lamarr, Charles Boyer, Gene Lockhart Algiers is a 1938 American drama film directed by John Cromwell and starring Charles Boyer, Sigrid Gurie, and Hedy Lamarr. Written by John Howard Lawson, the film is about a notorious French ...more

41
24 23
Bowery at Midnight is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Bela Lugosi, Dave O'Brien, J. Farrell MacDonald Bowery at Midnight is a horror film starring Bela Lugosi. Lugosi plays a psychology professor by day who, secretly and under an assumed name, runs a Bowery soup kitchen by night called the ...more

42
23 22
Sing a Song of Six Pants is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Larry Fine, Moe Howard, Curly Howard Sing a Song of Six Pants is the 102nd short subject starring American slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges. The trio made a total of 190 shorts for Columbia Pictures between 1934 and 1959.

43
28 36
Ranker Video
Pia Zadora, Bill McCutcheon, Ned Wertimer Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is a 1964 science fiction comedy film that regularly appears on lists of the worst films ever made. It is regularly featured in the "bottom 100" list ...more

44
20 21
Abraham Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Walter Huston, Una Merkel, Hobart Bosworth Returning to the historic era of his greatest success, Griffith paid homage to the sixteenth President in this moving drama starring Walter Huston. Focusing on Lincoln’s personal tragedies, as ...more

45
20 28
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Tom Graeff, Thomas Lockyer, King Moody Director starring . Aliens in jump suits want to use Earth as a breeding ground for Gargons, which are yabbies that grow to ginogorous proportions! But the young rebel alien Derek hates this ...more

46
19 22
Maniac is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Phyllis Diller, Horace B. Carpenter, William Woods Maniac, also known as Sex Maniac, is a 1934 black-and-white exploitation/horror film, directed by Dwain Esper and written by Hildegarde Stadie, Esper's wife, as a loose adaptation of the Edgar ...more

47
15 16
Why We Fight is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Gore Vidal, Richard Perle, Graydon Carter Why We Fight, directed by Eugene Jarecki, is a 2005 documentary film about the military–industrial complex. The title refers to the World War II-era eponymous propaganda movies commissioned by ...more

48
20 22
The Last Time I Saw Paris is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Elizabeth Taylor, Roger Moore, Eva Gabor The Last Time I Saw Paris is a 1954 romantic drama made by MGM. It is loosely based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story "Babylon Revisited." It was directed by Richard Brooks, ...more

49
16 17
Santa Fe Trail is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Ronald Reagan, Olivia de Havilland, Errol Flynn Santa Fe Trail is a 1940 American western film directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Raymond Massey and Ronald Reagan. Written by Robert Buckner, the film is ...more

50
17 22
Indestructible Man is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Lon Chaney, Jr., Max Showalter Indestructible Man is an American black-and-white science fiction film, an original screenplay by Vy Russell and Sue Dwiggins for producer-director Jack Pollexfen and starring Lon Chaney, Jr.. ...more