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The Best 1920s Silent Movies  

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

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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.
list ordered by
1
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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
2
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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
3
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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
4
The Gold Rush is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best 1920s Silent Movies
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
5
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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
6
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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
7
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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
8
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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
9
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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
10
Pandora's Box is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best 1920s Silent Movies
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
11
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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
12
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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
13
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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
14
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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
15
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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
16
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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
17
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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
18
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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
19
Our Hospitality is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best 1920s Silent Movies
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
20
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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
21
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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
22
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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
23
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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
24
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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
25
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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