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The Best Silent Movies of All Time

Updated December 21, 2020 1.4k votes 46 voters 20.3k views120 items

A list of the best silent films ever made, ranked by film fans' votes. This list is ordered by popularity, so only the greatest movies about Hercules are at the top of the list. If there are any great films you think we missed, please feel free to add them yourself. 

The films on this list are the most famous silent movies of all time, many of which are streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime, so use it to find some movies that you haven't seen already if you're a fan of the genre.


This list answers the questions, "What are the best silent films?" and contains items like A Woman of Paris and America.


Various bits of information are included with these popular silent movies, such as who directed them, when they were released and who starred in the films. So whether you're watching these movies on DVD, Blu-ray or streaming, these are some good silent films to enjoy. And when you're done, check out our list of classic romance movies.

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  • 1
    Brigitte Helm, Gustav Fröhlich
    32
    9

    Released1927

    Directed byFritz Lang

    Metropolis is a 1927 German expressionist epic science fiction drama film directed by Fritz Lang. The film was written by Lang and his wife Thea von Harbou, and starred Brigitte Helm, Gustav...  more
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    #125 of 306 The Greatest Movie Themes#62 of 181 The Best Dystopian And Near Future Movies#55 of 225 The Best Black And White Movies Ever Made

  • 2
    Charlie Chaplin, Jean Harlow
    25
    3

    Released1931

    Directed byCharlie Chaplin

    City Lights is a 1931 American romantic comedy film written by, directed by, and starring Charlie Chaplin. The story follows the misadventures of Chaplin's Tramp as he falls in love with a blind girl...  more
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    #445 of 1,142 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time#219 of 926 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films#10 of 102 The 100+ Best Movies Streaming On The Criterion Channel

  • 3
    Max Schreck, John Gottowt
    23
    6

    Released1922

    Directed byF. W. Murnau

    Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens is a 1922 German Expressionist horror film, directed by F. W. Murnau, starring Max Schreck as the vampire Count Orlok. The film, shot in 1921 and released in...  more
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    #633 of 1,436 The Most Rewatchable Movies#104 of 757 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time#123 of 675 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

  • 4
    Conrad Veidt, Stuart Holmes
    23
    7

    Released1928

    Directed byPaul Leni

    The Man Who Laughs is a 1928 American silent film directed by the German Expressionist filmmaker Paul Leni. The film is an adaptation of Victor Hugo's novel of the same name and stars Mary Philbin as...  more
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  • 5
    Mary Pickford, Gustav von Seyffertitz
    21
    6

    Released1926

    Directed byWilliam Beaudine, Tom McNamara

    Sparrows is a 1926 American silent film about a young woman who rescues a baby from kidnappers. The film, which was originally titled Scraps, starred and was produced by Mary Pickford, who was the...  more
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  • 6
    Alona Tal, Verne Troyer
    23
    8

    Released2008

    Directed byDeb Hagan

    College is a 2008 comedy starring Drake Bell, Andrew Caldwell, and Kevin Covais and directed by first-time director Deb Hagan. It was released on August 29, 2008, by MGM....  more
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  • 7
    Lillian Gish, Douglas Fairbanks
    16
    0

    Released1916

    Directed byD. W. Griffith

    Intolerance is a 1916 epic silent film directed by D. W. Griffith and considered one of the great masterpieces of the Silent Era. The three-and-a-half hour epic intercuts four parallel storylines,...  more
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  • 8
    Charlie Chaplin, Adolphe Menjou
    23
    8

    Released1923

    Directed byCharlie Chaplin

    A Woman of Paris is a feature-length American silent film that debuted in 1923. The film, an atypical drama film for its creator, was written, directed, produced and later scored by Charlie Chaplin....  more
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  • 9
    Rudolph Valentino, Lila Lee
    23
    8

    Released1922

    Directed byFred Niblo, Dorothy Arzner

    Blood and Sand is an American silent drama film produced by Paramount Pictures, directed by Fred Niblo and starring Rudolph Valentino, Lila Lee, and Nita Naldi. The film was based on the Spanish...  more
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  • 10
    George Sanders, Merle Oberon
    23
    11

    Released1944

    Directed byJohn Brahm

    The Lodger is a 1944 horror film about Jack the Ripper, based on the novel of the same name by Marie Belloc Lowndes. It stars Merle Oberon, George Sanders and Laird Cregar, features Sir Cedric...  more
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  • 11
    Buster Keaton, Edward F. Cline
    16
    3

    Released1922

    Directed byBuster Keaton, Edward F. Cline

    Cops is a 1922 comedy short silent film about a young man who accidentally gets on the bad side of the entire Los Angeles Police Department during a parade, and is chased all over town. It was...  more
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  • 12
    Die Nibelungen is a series of two silent fantasy films created by Austrian director Fritz Lang in 1924: Die Nibelungen: Siegfried and Die Nibelungen: Kriemhild's Revenge. The screenplays for both...  more
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    #544 of 566 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made#220 of 442 The Best Fantasy Movies

  • 13
    Carole Lombard, Mary Pickford
    20
    8

    Released1927

    Directed bySam Taylor

    My Best Girl is a romantic comedy starring Mary Pickford and Buddy Rogers, directed by Sam Taylor, and produced by Pickford. The movie is notable for co-starring Rogers, who would be Pickford's...  more
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  • 14
    Bette Midler, Lily Tomlin
    20
    8

    Released1988

    Directed byJim Abrahams

    Big Business is a 1988 American comedy film farce starring Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin. The movie revolves around two sets of identical female twins who were mismatched at birth, with one ending in...  more
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  • 15
    Georges Méliès, Jehanne d'Alcy
    20
    9

    Released1902

    Directed byGeorges Méliès

    A Trip to the Moon is a 1902 French silent film directed by Georges Méliès. Inspired by a wide variety of sources, including Jules Verne's novels From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon, the...  more
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    #16 of 141 The Best French Movies That Are Absolute Masterpieces#15 of 22 The Most Important 'Firsts' In Film History#25 of 51 The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies

  • 16
    Joseph Schildkraut, H.B. Warner
    13
    0

    Released1927

    Directed byCecil B. DeMille

    The King of Kings is a 1927 American silent epic film produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille. It depicts the last weeks of Jesus before his crucifixion and stars H. B. Warner in the lead...  more
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  • 17
    John Barrymore, Edgard Varèse
    17
    6

    Released1920

    Directed byJohn S. Robertson

    Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a 1920 horror silent film, produced by Famous Players-Lasky and released through Paramount/Artcraft. The film is based upon Robert Louis Stevenson's novella The Strange...  more
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  • 18
    Lillian Gish, Kid McCoy
    20
    10

    Released1919

    Directed byD. W. Griffith

    Broken Blossoms or The Yellow Man and the Girl is a 1919 American silent drama film directed by D.W. Griffith. It was distributed by United Artists and premiered on May 13, 1919. It stars Lillian...  more
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  • 19
    Greta Garbo, John Gilbert
    14
    3

    Released1926

    Directed byClarence Brown

    Flesh and the Devil is an MGM romantic drama silent film. It stars Greta Garbo, John Gilbert, Lars Hanson, and Barbara Kent, directed by Clarence Brown, and based on the play The Undying Past by...  more
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  • 20
    ZaSu Pitts, Chester Conklin
    14
    3

    Released1924

    Directed byErich von Stroheim

    Greed is a 1924 American silent film, written and directed by Erich von Stroheim and based on the 1899 Frank Norris novel McTeague. It stars Gibson Gowland as Dr. John McTeague, ZaSu Pitts as his...  more
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  • 21
    Bela Lugosi, Norma Shearer
    11
    0

    Released1924

    Directed byVictor Sjöström

    He Who Gets Slapped is a 1924 American silent drama film starring Lon Chaney, Norma Shearer, and John Gilbert, and directed by Victor Sjöström. The film is based on the Russian play Тот, кто получает...  more
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  • 22
    William Dieterle, Emil Jannings
    16
    6

    Released1926

    Directed byF. W. Murnau

    Faust is a 1926 silent film produced by UFA, directed by F. W. Murnau, starring Gösta Ekman as Faust, Emil Jannings as Mephisto, Camilla Horn as Gretchen/Marguerite, Frida Richard as her mother,...  more
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  • 23
    Doug Jones, Richard Herd
    16
    6

    Released2005

    Directed byDavid Lee Fisher

    The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a 2005 American independent film, and a remake of the 1920 silent film of the same name. It was directed by David Lee Fisher and released in the U.S. at the ScreamFest...  more
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  • 24
    Buster Keaton, Natalie Talmadge
    16
    6

    Released1923

    Directed byBuster Keaton, John G. Blystone

    Our Hospitality is a silent comedy directed by and starring Buster Keaton. Released in 1923 by Metro Pictures Corporation, the movie uses slapstick and situational comedy to tell the story of Willie...  more
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  • 25
    Lidia Quaranta, Bartolomeo Pagano
    20
    11

    Released1914

    Directed byGiovanni Pastrone

    Cabiria is a 1914 Italian epic silent film, directed by Giovanni Pastrone and shot in Turin. The film is set in ancient Sicily, Carthage, and Cirta during the period of the Second Punic War. It...  more
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