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Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain 

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Originally by Ranker Community
Updated September 27, 2019 12.4k votes 2.6k voters 395.7k views 58 items

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.
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1
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George A. Romero, Duane Jones, Bill Hinzman

Released: 1968

Directed by: George A. Romero

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

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2
Ranker Video
Lon Chaney, Norman Kerry, Mary Philbin

Released: 1925

Directed by: Lon Chaney, Edward Sedgwick, Rupert Julian, Ernst Laemmle

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

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3
Ranker Video
Jack Nicholson, Dick Miller, Mel Welles

Released: 1960

Directed by: Roger Corman

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

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4
Ranker Video
Vincent Price, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart, Umberto Raho

Released: 1964

Directed by: Sidney Salkow, Ubaldo Ragona

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

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5
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Lon Chaney, Ernest Torrence, Raymond Hatton

Released: 1923

Directed by: Wallace Worsley

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

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6
D.O.A. is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Edmond O'Brien, Beverly Garland, Neville Brand

Released: 1950

Directed by: Rudolph Maté

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

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7
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John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Stefanie Powers

Released: 1963

Directed by: John Wayne, Andrew V. McLaglen

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

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8
The Little Princess is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Mary Pickford, ZaSu Pitts, Theodore Roberts

Released: 1917

Directed by: Marshall Neilan

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

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9
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Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy

Released: 1940

Directed by: Howard Hawks

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

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10
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Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Coburn

Released: 1963

Directed by: Stanley Donen

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

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11
The Gold Rush is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Charlie Chaplin, Mack Swain, Georgia Hale

Released: 1925

Directed by: Charlie Chaplin

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

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12
The General is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Boris Karloff, Mike Donlin, Glen Cavender

Released: 1926

Directed by: Buster Keaton, Clyde Bruckman

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

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13
Carnival of Souls is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Reza Badiyi, Herk Harvey, Candace Hilligoss

Released: 1962

Directed by: Herk Harvey

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

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14
Meet John Doe is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Barbara Stanwyck, Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan

Released: 1941

Directed by: Frank Capra

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

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15
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Patrick Magee, William Campbell, Luana Anders

Released: 1963

Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola

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

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16
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Bob Hope, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby

Released: 1952

Directed by: Hal Walker

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

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17
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Mae Questel, Jack Mercer, Gus Wickie

Released: 1936

Directed by: Dave Fleischer

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
18
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Gary Cooper, Helen Hayes, Adolphe Menjou

Released: 1932

Directed by: Frank Borzage

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

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19
Detour is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Ann Savage, Tom Neal, Tim Ryan

Released: 1945

Directed by: Edgar G. Ulmer

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

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20
Angel and the Badman is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
John Wayne, Gail Russell, Harry Carey

Released: 1947

Directed by: James Edward Grant

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

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21
Cyrano de Bergerac is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
José Ferrer, William Prince, Mala Powers

Released: 1950

Directed by: Michael Gordon

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

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22
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Bela Lugosi, Clarence Muse, Madge Bellamy

Released: 1932

Directed by: Victor Hugo Halperin

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

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23
Topper Returns is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Joan Blondell, Carole Landis, Roland Young

Released: 1941

Directed by: Roy Del Ruth

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24
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

Released: 1937

Directed by: William A. Wellman, Jack Conway

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

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25
Gulliver's Travels is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain
Pinto Colvig, Jack Mercer, Lanny Ross

Released: 1939

Directed by: Seymour Kneitel, Dave Fleischer, Grim Natwick, Orestes Calpini, Willard Bowsky

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

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