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The Best 1920s Silent Movies 

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Updated September 21, 2019 1k votes 369 voters 5.6k views 48 items

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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1
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Brigitte Helm, Gustav Fröhlich, Theodor Loos

Released: 1927

Directed by: Fritz 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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#649 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #50 of 161 The Best Dystopian And Near Future Movieslisted on List of Silent Movies

2
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Max Schreck, John Gottowt, Alexander Granach

Released: 1922

Directed by: F. W. Murnau

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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#78 of 850 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #680 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on List of Silent Movies

3
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Janet Gaynor, Fletcher Henderson, George O'Brien

Released: 1927

Directed by: F. W. Murnau

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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4
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Boris Karloff, Mike Donlin, Glen Cavender

Released: 1926

Directed by: Buster Keaton, Clyde Bruckman

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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5
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Conrad Veidt, Lil Dagover, Hans Heinrich von Twardowski

Released: 1920

Directed by: Robert Wiene

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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6
The Gold Rush is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best 1920s Silent Movies
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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#1,422 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #464 of 1,210 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Timelisted on List of Silent Movies

7
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Antonin Artaud, Michel Simon, Renée Jeanne Falconetti

Released: 1928

Directed by: Marie Losier, Carl Dreyer

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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8
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Buster Keaton, George Davis, Kewpie Morgan

Released: 1924

Directed by: Buster Keaton

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
9
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Charlie Chaplin, Lita Grey, Jackie Coogan

Released: 1921

Directed by: Charlie Chaplin

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
10
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Sergei Eisenstein, Grigori Aleksandrov, Aleksandr Antonov

Released: 1925

Directed by: Sergei Eisenstein

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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11
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Harold Lloyd, Sam Lufkin, William Gillespie

Released: 1923

Directed by: Fred C. Newmeyer, Sam Taylor

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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12
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Steamboat Bill Jr. Buster Keaton, Ernest Torrence, Marion Byron

Released: 1928

Directed by: Buster Keaton, Charles Reisner

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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13
Pandora's Box is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best 1920s Silent Movies
Louise Brooks, Francis Lederer, Fritz Kortner

Released: 1929

Directed by: G. W. Pabst

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
14
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Victor Sjöström, Einar Axelsson, Hilda Borgström

Released: 1921

Directed by: Victor Sjöström

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
15
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Lon Chaney, Norman Kerry, Mary Philbin

Released: 1925

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

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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16
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Buster Keaton, Vernon Dent, Edward Brophy

Released: 1928

Directed by: Buster Keaton, Edward Sedgwick

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
17
Our Hospitality is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best 1920s Silent Movies
Buster Keaton, Natalie Talmadge, Joe Roberts

Released: 1923

Directed by: Buster Keaton, John G. Blystone

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
18
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Charlie Chaplin, Albert Austin, Stanley Blystone

Released: 1928

Directed by: Charlie Chaplin

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
19
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William Dieterle, Emil Jannings, Yvette Guilbert

Released: 1926

Directed by: F. W. Murnau

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
20
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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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21
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Conrad Veidt, Stuart Holmes, Mary Philbin

Released: 1928

Directed by: Paul 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 ...more

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#5 of 25 The Best Horror Films from the Silent Era #78 of 115 The Best Old Horror Movieslisted on List of Silent Movies

22
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Lillian Gish, Montagu Love, Edward Earle

Released: 1928

Directed by: Victor Sjöström

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
23
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Harold Lloyd, Jobyna Ralston, Leo Willis

Released: 1927

Directed by: Harold Lloyd, Lewis Milestone, Ted Wilde, J.A. Howe

The Kid Brother is a 1927 American classic comedy silent film starring Harold Lloyd. It was successful and popular upon release and today is considered by critics and fans to be one of Lloyd's ...more
24
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Released: 1929

Directed by: Dziga Vertov

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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25
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Charlie Chaplin, Marion Davies, William Haines

Released: 1928

Directed by: King Vidor

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