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Film The Best 1920s Silent Movies  

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List Rules Vote up your favorite silent films that were released in the 1920s.

If not for the greatest silent movies of the '20s, we wouldn't have the same cinematic knowledge and techniques that we do today. The 1920s saw an explosion of film making, with feature-length films taking precedence over short films, or “two-reelers.” Smaller film studios were incorporated into much larger enterprises, giving birth to the Studio System that would dominate Hollywood for the rest of the century.


What are the best ‘20s silent movies? This list includes some of the most classic, iconic films of all time. Megastars like Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin did some of their best work in this decade, starring in films such as
The General, The Gold Rush, and Sherlock Jr.

Foreign filmmakers also had a massive influence on film making in the 1920's. Many of the top ‘20s silent movies were helmed by foreign directors. German expressionist films like Nosferatu, directed by F.W. Murnau, showed American filmmakers the power of symbolism and lighting.


Also on this list, you’ll find
Un Chien Andalou, Luis Buñuel’s surrealist short film containing that infamous shot of an eyeball being sliced by a razor. Vote up the best silent films of the '20s, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section.

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Metropolis Brigitte Helm, Gustav Fröhlich, Theodor Loos 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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The General Boris Karloff, Mike Donlin, Glen Cavender Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial 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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Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans Janet Gaynor, Fletcher Henderson, George O'Brien Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, also known as Sunrise, is a 1927 American silent film directed by German film director F. W. Murnau. The story was adapted by Carl Mayer from the short story ...more

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Nosferatu Max Schreck, John Gottowt, Alexander Granach Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial 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 ...more

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The Cameraman Buster Keaton, Vernon Dent, Edward Brophy The Cameraman is a 1928 American silent comedy directed by Edward Sedgwick and an uncredited Buster Keaton. The picture stars Buster Keaton, Marceline Day, Harold Goodwin, and others. The ...more

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The Passion of Joan of Arc Antonin Artaud, Michel Simon, Renée Jeanne Falconetti The Passion of Joan of Arc is a 1928 silent French film based on the actual record of the trial of Joan of Arc. The film was directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer and stars Renée Jeanne ...more

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The Gold Rush is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best 1920s Silent Movies
The Gold Rush 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

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The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari Conrad Veidt, Lil Dagover, Hans Heinrich von Twardowski Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a 1920 German silent horror film, directed by Robert Wiene and written by Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer. Considered the quintessential work of German Expressionist ...more

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Sherlock, Jr. Buster Keaton, George Davis, Kewpie Morgan Sherlock, Jr. is an American silent comedy film directed by and starring Buster Keaton and written by Clyde Bruckman, Jean Havez and Joseph A. Mitchell. It features Kathryn McGuire, Joe Keaton ...more

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Our Hospitality is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best 1920s Silent Movies
Our Hospitality Buster Keaton, Natalie Talmadge, Joe Roberts Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial 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 ...more

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The Kid Charlie Chaplin, Lita Grey, Jackie Coogan Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial The Kid is a 1921 American silent comedy-drama film written by, produced by, directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin, and features Jackie Coogan as his adopted son and sidekick. This was ...more

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Steamboat Bill Jr. Buster Keaton, Ernest Torrence, Marion Byron Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Steamboat Bill Jr. is a 1928 feature-length comedy silent film featuring Buster Keaton. Released by United Artists, the film is the last product of Keaton's independent production team and set ...more

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Pandora's Box is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best 1920s Silent Movies
Pandora's Box Louise Brooks, Francis Lederer, Fritz Kortner Pandora's Box is a 1929 German silent melodrama film based on Frank Wedekind's plays Erdgeist and Die Büchse der Pandora. Directed by Austrian filmmaker Georg Wilhelm Pabst, the film stars ...more

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Safety Last! Harold Lloyd, Sam Lufkin, William Gillespie Safety Last! is a 1923 romantic comedy silent film starring Harold Lloyd. It includes one of the most famous images from the silent film era: Lloyd clutching the hands of a large clock as he ...more

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Battleship Potemkin Sergei Eisenstein, Grigori Aleksandrov, Aleksandr Antonov Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Battleship Potemkin, sometimes rendered as Battleship Potyomkin, is a 1925 silent film directed by Sergei Eisenstein and produced by Mosfilm. It presents a dramatized version of the mutiny that ...more

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The Circus Charlie Chaplin, Albert Austin, Stanley Blystone The Circus is a 1928 silent film written and directed by Charlie Chaplin with Joseph Plunkett as an uncredited writer. The film stars Chaplin, Al Ernest Garcia, Merna Kennedy, Harry Crocker, ...more

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The Wind Lillian Gish, Montagu Love, Edward Earle The Wind is a 1928 American silent romantic drama film directed by Victor Sjöström. The movie was adapted by Frances Marion from the novel of the same name written by Dorothy ...more

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The Phantom of the Opera Lon Chaney, Norman Kerry, Mary Philbin Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial 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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Seven Chances Buster Keaton, Snitz Edwards, T. Roy Barnes Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Seven Chances is a 1925 American comedy silent film directed by and starring Buster Keaton, based on a play written by Roi Cooper Megrue, produced in 1916 by David Belasco. Additional cast ...more

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The Navigator Buster Keaton, Noble Johnson, Clarence Burton Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial The Navigator is a 1924 comedy directed by and starring Buster Keaton. The film was written by Clyde Bruckman and co-directed by Donald Crisp.

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The Thief of Bagdad Douglas Fairbanks, Anna May Wong, Philip Ahn Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial The Thief of Bagdad is a 1924 American swashbuckler film directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Douglas Fairbanks. Freely adapted from One Thousand and One Nights, it tells the story of a thief ...more

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The Big Parade Karl Dane, Renée Adorée, John Gilbert The Big Parade is a 1925 American silent film directed by King Vidor and starring John Gilbert, Renée Adorée, Hobart Bosworth, and Claire McDowell. Adapted by Harry Behn from the ...more

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Faust William Dieterle, Emil Jannings, Yvette Guilbert Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial 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 ...more

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Wings Gary Cooper, Clara Bow, Hedda Hopper Wings is a 1927 American silent war film set during the First World War produced by Lucien Hubbard, directed by William A. Wellman and released by Paramount Pictures. It stars Clara Bow, Charles ...more

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Man with a Movie Camera Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Man with a Movie Camera is an experimental 1929 silent documentary film, with no story and no actors, by Soviet director Dziga Vertov, edited by his wife Elizaveta Svilova. Vertov's feature ...more

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The Phantom Carriage Victor Sjöström, Einar Axelsson, Hilda Borgström The Phantom Carriage is a 1921 Swedish film generally considered to be one of the central works in the history of Swedish cinema. Released on New Year's Day 1921, it was directed by and starred ...more

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The Man Who Laughs Conrad Veidt, Stuart Holmes, Mary Philbin 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 ...more

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Dr. Mabuse the Gambler Georg John, Charles Puffy, Rudolf Klein-Rogge Dr. Mabuse the Gambler is the first film in the Dr. Mabuse series, about the character Doctor Mabuse who featured in the novels of Norbert Jacques. It was directed by Fritz Lang and released in ...more

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The Last Laugh is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best 1920s Silent Movies
The Last Laugh Emil Jannings, Georg John, O. E. Hasse Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Der letzte Mann is one of the most influential films in the history of cinema. It was directed by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau in 1924 in the studio of Universum Film AG, known as Ufa and located in ...more

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Nanook of the North Nyla, Allakariallak, Cunayou Nanook of the North is a 1922 American silent documentary film by Robert J. Flaherty, with elements of docudrama, at a time when separating films into documentary and drama did not yet exist. In ...more

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Go West is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best 1920s Silent Movies
Go West Buster Keaton, Roscoe Arbuckle, Gus Leonard Go West is a silent movie starring Buster Keaton. Keaton portrays Friendless, who travels west to try to make his fortune. Once there, he tries his hand at bronco-busting, cattle wrangling, and ...more

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Un Chien Andalou is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best 1920s Silent Movies
Un Chien Andalou

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Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best 1920s Silent Movies

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The Hunchback of Notre Dame 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

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Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages William S. Burroughs, Benjamin Christensen, Elith Pio This silent docu-horror masterpiece is a study of how superstition and the misunderstanding of diseases and mental illness led to the hysteria of witch-hunts.

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Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde John Barrymore, Edgard Varèse, Charles Lane 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 ...more

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Beau Geste William Powell, Ronald Colman, Neil Hamilton Beau Geste is a silent film, based on the novel Beau Geste by P. C. Wren. This version starred Ronald Colman as the title character.

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Orphans of the Storm Lillian Gish, Joseph Schildkraut, Dorothy Gish Orphans of the Storm is a 1921 drama film by D. W. Griffith set in late-18th-century France, before and during the French Revolution. The last Griffith film to feature Lillian and Dorothy Gish, ...more

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Tess of the Storm Country Milton Berle, Mary Pickford, Lloyd Hughes Tess of the Storm Country is a 1922 melodrama starring Mary Pickford, directed by John S. Robertson, and based upon a Grace Miller White novel. It is a remake of Pickford's film from eight years ...more

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Way Down East Lillian Gish, Richard Barthelmess, Lowell Sherman Way Down West is a 1920 film directed by D. W. Griffith.

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The Sheik Rudolph Valentino, Loretta Young, Adolphe Menjou The Sheik is a 1921 American silent romantic drama film produced by Famous Players-Lasky, directed by George Melford and starring Rudolph Valentino, Agnes Ayres, and Adolphe Menjou. It was based ...more

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The Merry Widow Joan Crawford, John Gilbert, Mae Murray The Merry Widow is a 1925 American silent romantic drama/black comedy film directed and written by Erich von Stroheim. Released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the film stars Mae Murray, John Gilbert ...more

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The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse Rudolph Valentino, Ramon Novarro, Wallace Beery The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is a 1921 American silent epic war film produced by Metro Pictures Corporation and directed by Rex Ingram. Based on the Spanish novel The Four Horsemen of the ...more

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Show People Charlie Chaplin, Marion Davies, William Haines Show People is a 1928 American silent comedy film directed by King Vidor. The film was a starring vehicle for actress Marion Davies and actor William Haines and included notable cameo ...more

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An Andalusian Dog Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, Luis Buñuel, Simone Mareuil UN CHIEN ANDALOU consists of sixteen minutes of bizarre and surreal images that may or may not mean anything. In a dream-like sequence, a woman's eye is slit open, juxtaposed with a cloud ...more

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The Jazz Singer Myrna Loy, Al Jolson, William Demarest The Jazz Singer is a 1927 American musical film. The first feature-length motion picture with synchronized dialogue sequences, its release heralded the commercial ascendance of the ...more

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The Last Command William Powell, Emil Jannings, Evelyn Brent The Last Command is a 1928 silent film directed by Josef von Sternberg, and written by John F. Goodrich and Herman J. Mankiewicz from a story by Lajos Bíró. Star Emil Jannings won ...more

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The Golem: How He Came into the World Fritz Feld, Ernst Deutsch, Paul Wegener The Golem: How He Came into the World is a 1920 silent horror film co-directed by and starring Paul Wegener. The picture was directed by Carl Boese and Wegener, written by Wegener and Henrik ...more

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October: Ten Days That Shook the World Eduard Tisse, Boris Livanov, Vladimir Popov October: Ten Days That Shook the World is a 1928 Soviet silent propaganda film by Sergei Eisenstein and Grigori Aleksandrov. It is a celebratory dramatization of the 1917 October Revolution ...more

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Die Nibelungen 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 ...more