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Top 15 Greatest Silent Films

[Competition Included – see first comment] I’m surprised there isn’t already a list like this! For nearly the first forty years of cinema, most movies were released completely silent. During this period, many techniques had to be invented completely from scratch, and the language of film-making was born. Here are some of the best and most influential silent films ever made.


The Phantom of the Opera
Rupert Julian, 1925


An adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s famous novel. The film itself is most well-known for star Lon Chaney’s self-applied make-up. Chaney painted his eye sockets black, giving a skull-like impression to them. He also pulled the tip of his nose up and pinned that in place with wire, enlarging his nostrils with black paint, and putting a set of jagged false teeth into his mouth to complete the ghastly deformed look of the Phantom. The make-up was painful, but effectively horrific. From this Lon Chaney gained the reputation of being the “Man of 1,000 Faces.” His son, Lon Chaney, Jr., later became a horror legend in his own right by starring in “The Wolf Man” (1947).


Un chien Andalou
Luis Buñuel, 1929


A surrealist short film from the twisted minds of director Luis Buñuel and famous painter Salvador Dali. “Andalou” is a movie that must be seen to be fully understood: it is a short montage of dream-like images that include a famous scene of an eyeball being cut open, among other grisly images. It is the most famous of Buñuel’s films and helped put surreal and experimental film-making on the map.


Sherlock, Jr.
Buster Keaton, 1924


An early comedy from the legendary Buster Keaton. It features Keaton as a movie projectionist and janitor who is studying to become a detective. It is among Keaton’s funniest films and helped to establish his unique style.


Erich von Stroheim, 1924


The most expensive picture of its time, “Greed” started out as a nearly 9 hour film before being cut down drastically. It exists today at just under 4 hours in length. The remaining footage is considered to be the most tragic loss in all of cinema. The plot follows a dentist whose wife wins a lottery ticket, only to become obsessed with money.


The Birth of a Nation
D.W. Griffith, 1915


The movie that invented movies as we know them. Things like close-ups, camera pans, and eyeline matches were unheard of until D.W. Griffith’s 3 hour Civil War epic. It was incredibly successful upon release, which can be attributed to its well-known controversy regarding its racist depictions of slaves after the war. It is also credited as having inspired the reformation of the Ku Klux Klan in 1914. Overall, a fascinating and well-made film that has a very unfortunate background. Still a must-see for anybody interested in film.


The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
Robert Wiene, 1920


An early German silent film, “Dr. Caligari” defined what would become the German Expressionism period. Full of twisted, asymmetrical sets and images, Dr. Caligari is an early horror film about a mad doctor and his sleepwalking servant that seem to be somehow connected to a string of ghastly murders. It features one of the earliest examples of a twist ending, which was employed for political reasons when it was felt the original ending was far too dark, as it cast authority figures in a negative light.


F W Murnau, 1922


Like Caligari, Nosferatu was an early German Expressionist film that helped to define the horror genre. Intended as an adaptation of “Dracula,” numerous alterations had to be made as the producers could not properly secure the rights. The film is praised for director F. W. Murnau’s unique use of shadows and silhouettes to enhance the sheer terror of Max Schreck’s portrayal of the vampire.


The Gold Rush
Charles Chaplin, 1925


One of Charlie Chaplin’s best films. Chaplin’s famous Tramp character heads to Alaska to participate in the gold rush, and finds more than he bargained for. This is the film Chaplin has said he would most like to be remembered for. It is also well-known for its poster, which depicts the Tramp cold and alone, sitting on top of a stove in the corner of a room. Hardly a poster for a comedy, “The Gold Rush” is nonetheless heartwarming and hilarious.


The General
Buster Keaton, 1927


Another Buster Keaton comedy. This one stars Keaton as a young railroad engineer that aspires to become a soldier in the Civil War, he is unfortunately turned down. He returns home, downtrodden. A year later, his beloved train (the eponymous “The General”) is hijacked by Union soldiers, and he decides to stop them himself, single handedly. “The General” is best known for its humor and impressive action sequences, which utilize real, running steam trains. The climax of the film includes a spectacular moment where a bridge (sabotaged by Johnnie) collapses as a railroad train crosses it. This scene went on to inspire numerous other films, such as “The Bridge on the River Kwai” and “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.”


D W Griffith, 1916


D.W. Griffith’s response to the detractors of the “Birth of a Nation.” He was offended by their attacks on his films and decided to make a movie depicting how intolerance led to tragedy throughout history. Intolerance is a complex film that tells four separate stories about intolerance that are interwoven together. The movie constantly cuts back and forth between the four stories: a modern tale depicting the struggles of workers during the industrial revolution; the story of the Passion of the Christ; the fall of Babylon (which includes one of the biggest sets ever built); and the Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in France. As the movie reaches its climax, the cutting between stories becomes faster and more intense. A marked improvement over his previous film, this is the movie D.W. Griffith should be remembered for.


The Battleship Potemkin
Sergei Eisenstein, 1925


A Russian film by director Sergei Eisenstein. It presents a dramatized version of the mutiny that occurred in 1905 when the crew of the Russian battleship Potemkin rebelled against their officers of the Tsarist regime. It is without a doubt a Communist propaganda film, and remains the most influential of all such films. Its most well-known sequence, the Odessa Steps sequence has been referenced many times, most famously in Brian De Palma’s “The Untouchables.”


Fritz Lang, 1927


The first modern science-fiction film. It has influenced all subsequent SF movies from Star Wars to Blade Runner. Metropolis was one of the last German Expressionist films, and is to this date the most expensive silent film ever made. Metropolis is set in a futuristic urban dystopia and examines the social crisis between workers and owners in capitalism. The film was heavily edited upon release, and its cut footage was long considered lost. However, on July 1, 2008, a complete cut of the film was discovered in a film museum in Argentina. Some of the missing shots, however, remain beyond restoration.


City Lights
Charlie Chaplin, 1931


This was Charlie Chaplin’s last silent film (“Modern Times”‘s status as a silent film is debatable, or else I would have included it on this list) In “City Lights,” the Little Tramp falls in love with a blind flower salesgirl who believes him to be a rich man. Desperate to maintain the illusion, he attempts to obtain enough money to pay for an expensive operation that can restore her eyesight. Its ending is often considered to be the greatest in film history.


The Passion of Joan of Arc
Carl Dreyer, 1928


Wow. When I first saw this movie, it was completely silent. No soundtrack, no anything. And it was perhaps the most haunting film experience of my life. The film depicts the final hours of French national hero and saint, Joan of Arc. The film was considered lost until a nearly complete print was found hidden in a mental institution. The movie is influential for its use of close-ups and complete lack of make-up (for realism). Renée Jeanne Falconetti’s performance as Joan is also considered one of the best in screen history.


Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
F W Murnau, 1927


Sunrise was made by F. W. Murnau, the director of Nosferatu. Murnau was invited by William Fox to make an Expressionist film in Hollywood. It tells the tale of a broken marriage; the husband is enamored by a beautiful, young tramp from the city that tries to persuades him to drown his wife. He is unable to go through with it, and he begins to realize how much he loves his wife. So they take a dreamy, mesmerizing romp through the big city and learn what they truly mean to each other. It is a wonderful, life-affirming film that still impresses and enthralls its viewers to this day.

Listverse Staff

Listverse is a place for explorers. Together we seek out the most fascinating and rare gems of human knowledge. Three or more fact-packed lists daily.

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  • Competition: After tomorrow’s list is published, I will select one commenter from this list at random to win one copy of the Ultimate Book of Top 10 Lists and any one DVD from this list. Good luck!

  • BravehisTickle

    Wow, cool list this..Nosferatu is a personal favorite..the best Dracula movie ever for me :)

  • Curtis95112

    Wonderful list by the way
    I’ve never heard of most of these

  • BravehisTickle

    Hey JF, what if the same person comments from different aliases? Won’t that increase his/her chances since people are wont to comment like that??

  • @BravehisTickle (4): I have ways of telling :)

  • BravehisTickle

    And do we have to have a wordpress account for that? I’v been typing in my e-mail address ever since I started posting ;) Not made an account yet.

  • sgcvelasco

    As a film buff, I would very much love to catch up by being able to watch any of these films especially the ones with elaborate sequences like war and moving trains. Very much curious to see how these types of movies affect its audience albeit not hearing any sound at all.

  • Mr Selfdestruction

    Awesome list!! Anyway, Nosferatu must be at number one!

  • Vas

    I’ve gotta be honest – ive never seen a silent movie. but after this list i am tempted to go watch a few….

  • negadm

    Pick me plz!i neva won a thng!

  • BravehisTickle

    Metropolis, Battleship potemkin, The cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Nosferatu are real gems, I haven’t watched any others-are they comparable to the ones I mention? I want a frank review please.

  • mickeymousepants

    city lights ^^

  • simuun

    Great list! I’ve never seen a full length silent film, so I was intrigued by this list. I always wondered with today’s surround sounds and computer graphics, etc. that they really must have been missing out from movies in the early 1900’s. Or maybe I’m the one missing out for never having seen any of these.

  • Johan DeLaTorre

    I’ve heard of 2, 5, and Charlie Chaplin… What about Trip to the Moon, The Great Trian Robbery, and Berlin: a Symphany of a City… very influential stuff

  • Iain

    I would have thought there might have been a case for Abel Gance’s ‘Napoleon’ any reasons why not?

  • Eradicate

    I’d like to see Nosferatu :D
    I’m too young to have seen any of them. D;

  • EngineerAdam

    Awesome list!

  • Tarachowski

    Y’know, I’ve always wanted to watch one of Chaplain’s older films (I’ve only seen “The Geat Dictator”) and I think I might use this as a starting point – the one with the blind girl seems quite sweet – ta very much IceKeyHunter!

  • peeyaj

    I’m a huge Charlie Chaplin fan! Glad his two films made into the list. Gold Rush is so hilarios, I nearly died laughing in the scene where Charlie Chaplin ate his shoe. Hands on, City Lights is the greatest romantic comedy of all time! The ending is superb and heart-warming.
    Love the list!

  • BravehisTickle

    @Tarachowski (18): Hahahaha..Chaplain

  • Isabel

    It’s fantastic to see all these great films in here. I took up a course in Early Film History and got to see most of these, but I’m glad to have more things to check out. I haven’t seen Murnau’s “Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans” but the clip has piqued my interest.

    Great list! (anything that has Buster Keaton AND Charlie Chaplin will be a great list. I just wish there was some Fatty Arbuckle in there too, but then this would turn into a list about silent comedy!)

  • JulieAllison

    Interstingly, I watched 3 through 15 in a film class. I’ve never heard of 1 or 2!

  • JulieAllison

    Interestingly, I watched 3 through 15 in a film class. I’ve never heard of 1 or 2!

  • Yogipogi

    I dont know much of silent films.. or will ever see one.. or if ever have a chance to watch one, i don’t think i’d be able to finish the whole thing..

    but great effort for coming up with the list!

  • Holydiver

    Suprisingly very interesting list.
    I like how the entire movie Nosferatu is posted, might have to watch that later tonight.

  • Maximuz04

    ive seen birth of a nation! :(… the message is pretty despicable

  • Mindymoo

    “Nosferatu” is my favorite horror film of all time. Brilliant and creepy all around. That is what a vampire should look like. Not some dreamy lothrio who drinks blood, but a monster. A beast.

    I have also seen “The Passion of Joan of Arc”, “Metropolis”, “The Gold Rush” and Battleship Potemkin.” All very good in their own right. A couple I found online, and others I watched on Turner Classic Movies. Gotta love that channel.

  • Rufus

    sad i’ve never actually watched a silent film…

    isn’t that metropolis film similar to that japanese anime movie with the same name metropolis?

    There’s something i like about Charlie Chaplin

  • Arnaud

    Honestly, I would have added in the list The Trip to the Moon, by Méliès.

    Still great 100 years later.

  • Demi

    Gotta love to original Vampire! nasferatu ftw

  • pdxstargazer82

    Nice list. I’ll add some of these to my list of films to watch :)

  • Avi

    Do multiple comments increase chances of winning? Oh and is it just me or are silent films terrifying to anyone else?

  • noospaper

    It’s funny how even after all the advances in film technology, Nosferatu still scares me more than anything that’s come out since.

  • Jacynta

    Metropolis and The Gold Rush would have to be my two favourite silent movies.

  • C+++

    great list, i’ve only personally seen a couple of these, hope to watch more in the near future

  • Otter

    I’ve never heard of half of these but will definitely check out numbers 10, 6 and 1. Great list by the way IceKeyHunter.

  • tiktikhappy

    Good and informative list.. need to watch few of them..

  • Skiing

    Cool list, a couple of these movies seem really interesting,I hope to watch some of these in the near future =)!!!

  • casper

    Good to see a list without the obvious top 3. I had feared that the few silent movies i know, mostly from pop-culture would be at the top. As a dane it made me happy to see C. T Dreyer at the number 2 spot.

  • Chris

    I’ve seen 7 of these, all amazing films, although why Fritz Lang’s ‘M’ isn’t on the list is beyond me,maybe it would have made the top 20?

  • Kez

    I’d like the see the Joan of Arc one.

  • schmooney2000

    metropolis is still one of the greatest sci-fi movies ever made, love that film

  • Jotafrisco

    In 2008, in the film festival of Mar del Plata (Argentina), a bunch of people (including me :D) watched the recently found scenes from Metropolis, which were in the basement of an argentinian museum for decades. Awesome experience.

    And I love this list!

  • quber

    Very good list, i like how the author obviously knows the subject which make reading the descriptions so much better.

    Well done IceKeyHunter

  • antikrist89

    i think its a great list but i would have included begotten its a more recent film and i think its pretty good

  • Aks

    Haven’t seen many of these movies but a friend strongly recommended Metropolis as a must watch. I am not sure if I could ever find it’s DVD in India.

    Also I’d like to mention “The Kid” by Sir Charles Chaplin. It’s well performed and directed.

    Fantastic list. :)

  • Paris

    Great list!
    Charlie Chaplin is the man!

  • deezer

    Great list!! I’ve got to see City Lights and the Passion of Joan of Arc. They sound wonderful. I’ve not ever seen a silent movie and had only heard of some of these. Thank you so much. Love these types of lists that open my mind. Thanks again. Really great list.

  • Me

    I’ve only seen five minute clips of silent films but always thought them great. Our library at uni only had terrible copies of Nosferatu and Dr Caligari so didn’t manage to see all of them- they were unbelievably scratched!!

  • Sawa

    I personally think silent films are beautiful. But it is so hard to get them here in NZ. The video shops don’t have any to rent out and most retailers won’t order them in. Its a real shame.

  • gersgraeme

    intresting list. I only knew of one of the films. still, i prefer sound. :)

  • keyshock

    I really liked this list. It really showcases how talented early filmmakers are. Imagine telling all these amazing stories without having to rely on sounds, colors, or special effects. It’s sad how the directors and stars of these films have mostly been forgotten.

    Notable additions to this list would be The Sheik (1921) and The Kiss (1896).

  • lala

    well, well, good to see Keatons Sherlock Jr. here… Also, the Gold Rush and City lights were real good, but as far as silent movies (by Chalpin) go, I think ‘The Kid’ should have made it to this list. Great list nonetheless.

  • Steve

    What, no Mel Brook’s “Silent Movie”?!?

  • BravehisTickle

    @Sawa (51): Why don’t you download these movies through their torrents e.g. from ??

  • marcelfarm

    Should be tough for the actors at the time to work without the lines… and yet those movies remain beautiful to this day. Good way to honor them, this list

  • Tenebrae

    Some of these are on Netflix. Worth watching.

    I adore Nosferatu. Especially in light of the recent onslaught of ridiculous, fruity vampires it’s nice to go back to when vampires were horrifying.

  • BravehisTickle

    @Aks (46): Hey man, you don’t need to buy a dvd, haven’t you downloaded anything by their torrents? It’s not banned in can easily download all the 15 if you have a good internet connection, see my link in (56)

  • Lyndall Johnson

    Random.. HAH!! See if you will pick mine after i call you an asshole.

  • krennie

    I’d quite like to marry Buster Keaton. Get back to me when you invent a time machine. This is a lovely list. I was born in the wrong era!

  • Boxx

    How many “movie buffs” will have never seen any of these…?

  • Chaos1111

    Great list, I haven’t been interested in silent films much but you changed my mind =D

  • Andrew G

    Great list. Of these, I’ve only seen City Lights, Nosferatu and the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, but I’m gonna look up the rest because they look awesome. Fantastic Choices.

  • Firefly

    Usually when there’s a movie list I’ve only seen one, if any of them. This time I’ve seen at least 3 (not sure which Chaplin one’s I’ve seen). But thanks to my love of horror and old stuff I’ve seen Nosferatu and Dr Caligari. Also seen Un Chien Andalou, gotta love Luis Bunuel. There’s a really great DVD compilation of silent surrealist films from the early part of the 20th century (and I think a few late 19th century ones too) except I’ve completely forgotten the name. And it’s a really obvous one too.

  • Morticia

    @ VAS (9) me too!

  • Eloise

    The soundtrack can make-or-break a movie. but silence is always golden ;)

  • MamaBear2Cubs

    That Chaney (#15) really knew what he was doing because that face is creepy!!

    A 9 hour film (#12) seriously? Now I’m interested.

    I’ve never seen a silent film and to be honest I’ve never really thought much about them, I know the basics about the famous actors from that era but that’s about it, great list though. I can honestly say I learned something and might check one of these out. (Although I’ll say now I have the attention span of my toddler and I have trouble paying attention to speaking movies..wait maybe that is BECAUSE of my toddler and not my attention span..)

  • nakedguitarist

    @jfrater (1): I predict it won’t be me

  • amadee

    This is a good reference point for me to use in the future. I never consider silent films when lost for a film to choose. I shall explore….

  • Zarquon

    The only silent movie I’ve ever seen is Metropolis.

    But thx for this list, now I know some new ones to check out

  • Jody

    All of these movies are brilliant and are a perfect example of how the movie/media industries have grown and progressed over just a short period of time. Great list! :)

  • gabyvhenteciete

    This is a great list! :D I have already watched D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation and, Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights and Gold Rush. I enjoyed these three films tremendously. I’ve yet to watch the rest of the films listed here.

  • romerozombie

    I’ve never seen any of these so I’d quite like to win. And it’s my birthday today. Hint. Wink.

  • jbaran

    great list only my personal favorite silent film Cabiria is missing

  • justice

    Great list. The Passion is my favorite silent movie.

  • jayden

    very interesting list, being a gen y kid, i dont really know many of these films, but i do enjoy reading every list, even if i do not know anything about it. =)

  • Stizzy

    Cool cool list :D takes me back to my uni studies which consisted of watching ALOT of these movies. Have to say, Un chien Andalou remains one of the weirdest films I have ever seen in my life!

    That scene with the guy pulling a piano across a room with dead animals hanging out of it…I mean what the heck?! LOOOL

  • oouchan

    I have seen most of these but sadly The Phantom of the Opera wasn’t one of them. I will need to check that one out.
    My favorites will always be any with Chaplin. Greatest slapstick ever.
    Nice list, IceKeyHunter.

  • PickME! :)

    Charlie Chaplin is the best!!!! :D

  • Calforb

    Woo! Brilliant list.

    Any more conspiracy, unsolved mysteries on the way?

  • AuthorityFigure

    For me, there’s nothing as good as Eisenstein in the silent era. ‘Potemkin is brilliant, as is ‘October’.

    Pudovkin is another Russian master too. I encourage anyone who’s interested to look him up – where I live (Australia) it’s impossible to find any of his works.

  • Jediknight

    Awesome list and city lights rocks

  • Randall

    As a major film buff, I’m proud to boast here that not only have I seen every one of these films, but that I also have copies of most of them on DVD.

    NOW… while a great list—and one that was needed—there *are* one or two films missing that should have rated a space here, or at least a mention.

    Abel Gance’s “Napolean” is one. Amazing film.

    Pabst’s “Pandora’s Box” is another. If only for the fantastic performance of the beautiful and breathtakingly sexy Louise Brooks. Brooks essentially invents modern acting in this film; prior to her, it was mainly the exaggerated mannerisms of the stage. She was really the first film actor to not only create a naturalistic performance, but to use the camera in ways that no one else had at that time, to effect her performance.

    “The Cat and the Canary” is another I’d include here. A marvelously entertaining comedy/horror film from start to finish. My 15 year old daughter loves this film. Of course, she’s an unusual kid–for which I’m extremely proud–but still, that ought to say something. The film still holds up. Very, very well. The visuals are fantastic.

    Others no doubt will come to mind.

    One other thing. “Sunrise” is, no doubt, a great movie. I have a copy. I’ve watched it several times. Murnau was a great talent. Visually, the film is quite remarkable. But the story? Not so much. Based loosely on Theodore Dreiser’s “An American Tragedy” (itself based on a true story) it *does* have its moments. But I have always found it rather tedious to watch, as there are bits of it that are just corny and hard to take. Perhaps that’s just me.

    I would, however, EARNESTLY counsel EVERYONE here to see “The Passion of Joan of Arc.” Words can’t describe how beautiful and amazing this film is. It has no equal. See it. Right away. The first time I saw it, I was riveted, and remain so to this day, even after having watched it multiple times.

  • Arsnl

    @BravehisTickle (56): stop advertising torrents dude. Its theft.
    Es toxico.

  • TheOrion

    Great List .. Nosferatu is My Favourite .. Joanne of Arc comes close in 2nd place .. Metropolis comes third ..

  • ryanlechien

    i love un chian abula

  • brosiusjb

    Pick me JF, pick me!

  • MagpieMagic

    Not seen any of these films. Think ill have to try and find some of them!

  • Liamd95

    Brilliant list, i love all silent films. They really get there point across with art rather than speech.

  • teacherman

    Could a silent film be made today and released to a national audience? DIscuss

  • ebin

    Love the list. I have a friend who looks exactly like Nosferatu!!

  • nicoleredz3

    I’ve read somewhere that The Battleship Potemkin is one of the greatest movies ever! Just downloaded it, gonna watch it after work… Also, The Passion of Joan of Arc seems to be a good film, also gonna try to get that…

  • Mars

    I love silent movies… unfortunately, none of my friends do, so I have to watch them alone. I have a DVD box set of Charlie Chaplin’s movies, which I have yet to watch in its entirety. The Gold Rush is a good ol’ classic. Buster Keaton is also great!

  • sirfistus

    Lovely list,

    The early 20’s certainly where a booming time for the industry, eh?


  • Andrew

    You’d have to imagine being an actor during the time, would you speak during filming?

    Like wouldn’t it be natural to say stuff and wouldn’t it look funny after when you see mouths move but no words come out? LOL

    (I can’t watch the videos, internet restrictions, so i can’t tell if they are actually just mouthing things (Y))

  • mykroberts

    I have been curious about the 9-hour version of Greed since I first heard of the film…too bad we’ll never see it.

  • mikerodz

    Untill I was 16, I hardly understand few words in English, so I consider all English movies I watched during those days to be silent movies. Keaton Buster and Charlie Chaplin are two of my Favs. Not only their capability to induce laughter but also because of the universal theme and timelessnes of their movies. Thanks Listverse for bringing back some good memories.

    PS: Also thanks for sanitizing this section.

  • jgmjgm

    Four hours is a really long time for a movie, but I guess its better than nine.

  • m.

    i’m happy that chaplin made the list.
    no list on this topic could be complete without him, in my opinion.

  • Caysha

    Wonderful list! These are all gems. If you don’t laugh at Keaton or Chaplin, I think you’ve had your sense of humour removed… such amazing entertainers. I can’t say I enjoyed Birth of a Nation – the KKK sweeping in to rescue them at the end is so hard to watch too much, but it is an incredible film nonetheless.
    Though I wasn’t a huge fan of Metropolis either, he special effects had me spellbound. What they did in ’27 has to be seen to be believed. And Murnau’s Nosferatu is still creepifying to this day – if you haven’t seen it, you really should.
    The only film left off the list that I’d suggest would be Melies’ ‘Le Voyage Dans Le Lune.’It’s hard to beat a science fiction/fantasy, adventure film (with some highly comedic aspects!) that was made in 1902 really.

    Thanks IceKeyHunter for making my day!

  • kingmmm

    Never heard of Sunrise before, surprised me for #1. But all the others are topnotch films. Metropolis is definitely my favorite though.

  • Shawn-n-Laura2010

    I LOOOOOVVVEEEE silent movies! I’ve seen everything on this list, and then some. VERY happy to see some homage paid to these pioneers of film.

    **Nosferatu definitely my favorite on the list BTW.

    Cheers all!!!

  • Caliban

    I was expecting to see “The Crowd” (1928) on the list. A great silent film about a man coping with living an average life in New York City. One of the first silent films I sat through and really enjoyed, not to mention some groundbreaking directing.

  • JudTheObscene

    I thought Mel Brooks “Silent Movie” would make this list, Although there is one word spoken in the film, it was spoken by Marcel Marceau.

  • mr.lawman

    Cool list! Though I am somewhat happy that sound has since been implemented into movies ;)

  • Russ

    I haven’t seen most of these, but I wouldn’t mind watching a few, they sound pretty interesting.

  • bucslim

    As a major film buff, I’m proud to boast here that not only have I NOT seen every one of these films, but that I also don’t have copies of most of them on DVD.

  • El the erf

    Brilliant films on the list! But I feel it would have been better off as a “top 20” rather than a “top 15 and leaving out some odd 5 very fine silent films.”
    First, instead of The Birth of a Nation, I would have included “Intolerance”…this film was director Griffith’s response to the criticism he received regarding the racist content of his previous film, Birth of a Nation.
    Also, “30 years of fun”, a compilation of silent comedy movie footage containing scenes of Laurel and Hardy, Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, and other comedians of the early 1900s is a notable exception.
    “The Sheik” is another one. This film had women fainting in the aisles during its screenings.
    The academy award winner “The Seventh Heaven” is also an amazing film which is missing.
    Boy i could go on…

  • bucslim

    @El the erf (109):

    That’s an amazing statement, that you would have included ‘Intolerance’ and that it was a response to his first film’s racist content.

    Mainly because the author included ‘Intolerance.’

  • timmar68

    This list reminds me of 10th grade english class, where we had studied film. We not only analyzed shots but we laughed at them, too.
    In one film there was a chase scene and the actors kept running past the same scenery. Everytime they’d run past a certain house, for example, we’d yell out. “One!” “Two!” “Three!” Good times.
    If Buster Keaton was around today I’d have a crush on him.

  • El the erf

    @bucslim (110): My comment seems to have been menacingly altered!
    @jfrater (5): Sinister!

  • Glass

    Great list. You’re missing Modern Times, but it’s still a great list.

  • Randall

    @bucslim (108):

    I will NOT be mocked!

  • Dan0

    Solid list. I’m not a movie snob nor am I wrapped up in nostalgia, but some of chaplin’s bits are STILL some of the funniest ones i’ve ever seen.

  • bucslim

    @Randall (114):

    Fine, no problem. I was just posting something so I could win the Listverse book and make fun of Smell the Barf’s dimwitted chump observation that he would have included ‘Intolerance’

  • Randall

    @bucslim (116):

    Very well. You have my permission to mock me.

    But you must respect me in the morning.

  • Randall

    @bucslim (116):

    You are also welcome to mock “Smell the Barf.” Be my guest. I find your mockery of him… always amusing. And he is often oh so deserving of said mockery.

    I must say, should I win this contest, I’ll send you the book–as I already have a copy.

  • MT

    Excellent list! I’ve seen most of these but will watch the others.

  • bucslim

    @Randall (117):

    Shut your festering gob you tit! Your type really makes me puke, you vacuous, coffee nosed, malodorous pervert!

    With all due respect, I must point out that was more like abuse than mocking. You came into the wrong room. Mocking is down the hall right next door to Getting Hit on the Head Lessons.

    Stupid Git.

  • Tron

    I chould’nt see any of the videos because my computer has window 95

    But I Enjoyed the list none the less, I’ll com back tommor to see what else you added


  • El the erf

    Great! That’s what all I need…Bucslime and Rant-all trolling their way to my stardom!
    Thanks folks !! Without you two I would be nowhere…

  • Tron

    Incase any1 has questions…

    I have window 95 because it still works well for me, and i don’t need video’s and other famcy stuff to keep me entertaim

  • DogBitez

    @Caliban (104)

    I was going to mention “The Crowd” myself, and then I saw your post. An amazing film — one of the greats. I was surprised and disappointed to see it left off this list.

  • Randall

    @bucslim (120):

    This isn’t an argument; it’s simply contradiction.

  • missmozell

    I’ve been interested in silent movies since junior high. I carefully saved my allowance to join the Movie Book Club, and a history of the silents was the first thing I bought. PBS used to run silents once a week, and I never missed them. Plus I had a huge crush on Rudolph Valentino as The Sheik for awhile. :)

  • bucslim

    @Randall (125):

    No it isn’t.

  • Randall

    @bucslim (127):

    It is!

  • Swapie

    thank the gods for sound. I am too stupid to enjoy the silence.

  • El the erf

    @bucslim (120): Say, that was great… doing my job! ( and speaking the truth for once in your life)
    Love you!

  • Randall

    @bucslim (127):

    An argument isn’t just contradiction. An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition.

  • Taylor

    It’s been 40+ days without a list about sports, I really hope there’s one soon.

  • El the erf

    Don’t worry bucslime and randy , you’ll get over it.
    Even gay perverts have family problems.
    Rant-all…yer 15 year old whore would be ashamed of ya.

  • Randall

    @El the erf (133):

    Pathetic, badly-written, unoriginal and nonsensical attempt to elicit a response from me. I offer you one only out of the kindness of my heart, because I pity the slow-witted and socially awkward.

  • El the erf

    Dear Rant-all and bucslime, why don’t you keep your intellectual contradictory arguments to your own blogs and stop killing us each time you catch up with each other?

  • poster

    great list! bold albeit well handled inclusion of birth of a nation

  • Randall

    @El the erf (135):

    Take a look at post #84, clown. I contributed a thoughtful, well-composed opinion and offered up alternative choices to the list with support.

    You, on the other hand, mumble and dither like a schizophrenic homeless person who wets himself.

  • Jay Poe

    The 1923 film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame should Definitely be on here.

  • gabi319

    Recommendation for the competition winner: DON”T select a DVD of Un Chien Andalou. I’m proud to say my appettite’s generally unaffected by edgy or disturbing films or tv shows, but after seeing the famous eyeball slicing in that film, I stayed away from grapes for days.

    …after seeing the deerskin tanning episode of Dirty Jobs in HD, I stayed away from pudding for weeks.

    Excellent selections, IceKeyHunter. I think I’ve seen half of these. I’d also recommend The Great Train Robbery. This one does pan and scan earlier than Birth of a Nation (GTR was made in 1903). I especially love the ending. I bet it scared the crap out of people when they first saw the film.

  • Dan

    I have only seen Nosferatu and that was many years ago… at the time, I was not really impressed with it. Now that I am older and have an greater understanding of everything, I can really appreciate the film for what it is.

    I think many people who are not interested or like me, who didn’t get it, are thinking in terms of modern movies. You have to watch these movies for what they represent in terms of the early 1900’s. There was no sound, no color and had to rely on the director, actors and imagery. To which Nosferatu had in abundance.

    I wish today’s movies had the same dedication towards making a great film that would last 100 years!

  • bucslim

    IceKeyHunter – great list. I think you did a fine job here and I wholeheartedly agree with your choices. Some of these selections showed up on my list of great films made by directors under the age of 30 – Buster Keaton and Eisenstein. It’s not my intention to take away from your list with my buffoonery.

    It’s just too bad the rest of us have to constantly be inundated with childish and insane posts from someone who came to this site using my name pretending to have an opinion and a sense of humor. I look at it the same way I look at birdshit hitting my windshield. No matter what I do to wash the filth off, it remains to remind me that avian fecal matter is a giant pain in the ass. Just like this twerp who rarely has anything of substance to say, yet continually returns to open his blathering pie hole.

    So erf, I have repeatedly told you not to refer to me in anyway. I made the mistake of mentioning one of your posts this morning, I won’t be doing that again. And once again you’ve proven yourself to be the village idiot.

    I’m not interested in anything you have to say and from now on your posts directed at me will again be met with stone cold silence.

  • Arsnl

    @Randall (134): hey old man you just fed the troll. Mighty randall has fallen for it. You my friend wil suffer the fate of the mighty roman empire. Separated in two and at the mercy of the huns and goths. And as like the romans, thracians or scythians you will never see an iphone with a repleaceble battery. You can only boast the fact that you multi touched chuck norris. Pinch to zoom…
    @Taylor (132): give us some interesting documentaries to watch dude. Something with probing if you please. I guess we will be considered a civilized society when we will replace colonoscopies with probing.
    @El the erf (135): dude why dont you buy a skoda. It will you resolve your issues.

  • TonyTyger

    As a mime artist, I have a great respect for this list.

  • El the erf

    @Randall (137):
    Take a look at post #109, buffoon. Okay. So I contributed a messed up , not-so-well-composed opinion,and offered up alternative choices to the list.
    BUT atleast that was in concord to the theme of the list.

    Not my fault that mangy cur of yours was all over me. Forces me to take out my whip on him.
    Keep him muzzled.

  • Lifeschool


    Silent movies are one of the few movie genres I know practically nothing about, so this list was quite a tonic. I’ve seen a few (repeated in the 1980’s) such a early Laurel and Hardy but I can’t seem to recall sitting through any Chaplins. One curio is Keatons -The Railrodder – a 1960’s silent and one of his last. It’s a lot like a road movie, only on rails. :)

    Would like to see: Nosferatu, Metropolis and Joan of Arc (if only because of Randell’s profound advocation.)

  • El_Karlo

    Must admit i’m not to clued up on silent films other than the well known greats of course and there were a few here i would definatly like to watch. Good list.

  • lyckligmig

    i had no idea Phantom of the Opera was attempted before Andrew Lloyd Webber! Now I have a movie to add to my list!

  • El the erf

    @bucslim (141): Look what you have gone and done again. Your sole graspable comment in this list has 80% of the content dedicated to me.Not my fault!
    p.s…Mighty pleased to hear that I still give you nightmares with my sinister entrance act in Listverse! Har! har! :P

  • Lifeschool

    @Lifeschool (145): Ooops, sorry Randall.

  • PMotion

    Great list, I’ve never seen any of these!

  • robneiderman

    I’ve wanted to see Metropolis ever since the Radio Ga Ga video.
    Since Hollywood wants to keep remaking movies, maybe they should mine a little deeper and update some from the silent era instead of remaking ones that aren’t even very old and leave no room for improvement. Just my two cents.

  • thebarrelabisca

    I wonder how the complete film of The Passion of Joan of Arc came to be in a mental institute…I’m about to do some research

  • Riesstu

    Excellent list, made all the more enjoyable by the knowledge that some of these early cinematic gems have been (almost) completely restored.

  • Taylor

    @Arsnl (142):

    Careful, don’t be calling those films “documentaries”. Last time I did bucslim shit a chicken haha.

  • General Tits Von Chodehoffen

    List was too good. Now I’m spending the rest of the day watching silent films.

    @El the erf (148): I hate you.

  • Ron S.

    i like the Nosferatu

  • jay-rod

    Pick me JFrater!! Pick me!!!

  • steeveedee

    Nice list!
    As a huge fan of all film, I’m amazed at the amount of people who have commented that they’ve not seen a silent film…ever! What is wrong with you people?? Some of the most creative and inventive work was done by these early pioneers of film. Many of today’s films owe their very soul to the masterworks of these silent film makers. You simply cannot claim to be a film fan without having seen anything pre-sound.

    I grew up watching silents, especially Chaplin, Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and Fatty Arbuckle. The mix of comedy and pathos has never been equalled in film, silent or sound.

    I also agree with Randall. Joan of Arc is absolutely astounding. And I love “The Cat and the Canary”.

  • Sodamancer

    I haven’t seen many silent films myself, and only one on this list. Nosferatu remains one of the scariest vampire movies ever made, and it’s style heavily influenced the Universal monster movie run.

  • Gigans

    That sounds like a perplexing conundrum…I like the movie lists btw keep em up

  • Motherboy69

    JF another well done list!!! ur the best!!!

  • El the erf

    @Arsnl (142): I’m managing fine with the windshield of ol’ Buc’s hooptie as my shitpot. Waste not Want not! (I am a man of simple terms…why waste a skoda when you have a clunker??)

  • chershey

    I think this is the first movie list where I’ve seen most of them. Personal fave is The General of course. Interesting that you had Sherlock Jr as the secondary Keaton film. I might have picked The Playhouse, also for its advanced special effects.

  • litahosen

    I have only seen Un Chien Andalou. It was on another list on the site so I looked around the internet to watch it. Its quite disturbing. But its still good.

    I feel like I’m the only person in the world who hasn’t seen Phantom of the Opera. I should get on that.

  • Danny

    Nosferatu is such a great film. For some reason most people I know either don’t think much of it, or don’t really care to even watch it. It’s quite sad.

  • DoubleT

    I miss Trip to the Moon (or whatever the title of the Melies’ groundbreaking film is in English) and anything with Louise Brooks for the sheer gorgeousness of aforementioned Louise Brooks. Just for fun, I’ll write her name again: LOUISE BROOKS! Pandora’s Box comes to mind first but there’s lots of stuff she’s been in. And I think I developed a little crush on El the Erf. I became aware of that as I noticed that I always scroll down the comments list to first find his comments and only then I skim through the rest. Truth be told, I have no idea what he writes about, is he left, right, center, up or down or simply high but he kind of puts a smile on my face for whatever reason. There, I said it. :)

  • NiMur90

    I love lists like this. This should keep me busy for the next couple of hours :/

  • Arsnl

    @El the erf (162): erf thats you. Making friends wherever you go. You are a man of the world.
    Btw great list seen a couple blah blah blah.

  • Rob S.
  • DoubleT

    Ah, yes, I forgot to mention that every time I hear the word Nosferatu I immediately remember an old episode of “Friends” when Phoebe Buffay’s twin sister Ursula starts a career in porn and stars in such classics as “Buffay the Vampire Layer” and “Nosferatool”. :D

  • Tom Wang

    “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” had a great episode that used “Nosferatu” as the inspiration called “The Tale of the Midnight Madness”. Loved that show.

  • Davy

    Brilliant list! I wondered when a silent movie list would appear – and here it is! Charlie Chapman is hilarious.

  • Scratch

    Arbuckle was innocent.

    If there is a God, his name was Buster Keaton.

    7/15 isn’t too bad.

    The Passion of Joan of Arc is a great film. The expressiveness that Falconetti is able to convey is truly amazing.

  • QDV

    I’m amazed that I didn’t see the name “Harold Lloyd” until comment 158: His clock-climbing stunt in “Safety Last” is iconic, and he’s often forgotten as one of the Big Three of Silent Comedy with Chaplin and Keaton! However, major, major points for “Sunrise” being at #1: I started reading this list thinking that only the “big name” movies would be mentioned, and that a classic like “Sunrise” would be referenced only in the comments section. Aside: Brad Pitt watches a clip of this movie in “Interview with the Vampire.”

    “Nosferatu” is easily a must-see, but I’d also suggest following it up with the more recent “Shadow of the Vampire,” a — shall we say — loose “making of” Murnau’s classic.

    My thoughts on “Joan of Arc” are similar to other comments: One viewing of this movie absolutely pulled me in as a fan. It’s a stunning film by itself, but what I saw on TCM featured the “Voices of Light” soundtrack, which adds to one’s emotional experience. Related, Carl Theodor Dreyer also did “Vampyr,” another silent I’d suggest when you sit down with “Nosferatu.”

    Saw a comment about the omission of Lang’s “M.” That’s a talkie, but definitely worth seeing. I’m looking forward to seeing the restoration work they’ve done on that “Metropolis” print they found in 2008, as we’ve long seen a version that Lang DIDN’T have in mind (Best we’ve got thus far is the 2003 Kino release, which fills in the gaps with title cards).

    Disagree about the inclusion of “Phantom of the Opera.” I know, some would consider that to be blasphemy, but Chaney SHOULD be represented, and he certainly did better movies. He WAS stellar in “Phantom,” and I saw someone mention “Hunchback of Notre Dame,” but IMHO, Chaney is oftentimes identified as a horror movie actor because of these appearances (I think many of us would love to see “London After Midnight”: resurface, if only to see Chaney’s vampire performance in an otherwise ordinary whodunit film that was later remade as “Mark of the Vampire” with Bela Lugosi.). Check out his work in “Tell It to the Marines” — no fancy makeup! — or “The Unholy Three” (both the silent and the talkie, the latter of which was the only talkie that Chaney did before he died), and while the film no longer exists, search YouTube for a surviving clip from “The Miracle Man.” Chaney’s charlatan character is “healed,” but then the REAL miracle happens. Great scene!

    Given Chaney’s makeup work, while I wouldn’t put the movie in this list, take a look at Conrad Veidt in “The Man Who Laughs,” for a face that, well, you’ve all seen on a rather popular villain from comics and movies. :-) If you want a spoiler, try here:

  • El the erf

    @DoubleT (165):
    Yo, trick films are so damn awesome. Throw in a Jules Verne script and you have a gem of a movie on your hands. Trip to moon sounds fabulous.Thanks.

    “Truth be told, I have no idea what he writes about, is he left, right, center, up or down or simply high”

    Amen to that. :)

    @Arsnl (167): So true.

  • brownie

    i think it would be great if someone made a lient movie with modern techniques

  • undaunted warrior

    Well done IceSkiHunter well written and good choices.

    Randell nice to see you back, a couple of weeks ago a list was posted about crabs and insects and you asked if someone could explain how come some of the different species gets bigger than others.

    Ihave a couple of lines I can post in about an hour if you are still interested, just let me know.

  • themadcaplaughs

    I am surprised that Metropolis is not higher on the list. The amount of influence that it had in Hollywood is extremely important in the sci-fi genre. I have seen most of these films in school, but I will need to check out the others. Great list.

  • Randall

    @thebarrelabisca (151):

    Here’s how it *might* have ended up in an asylum:

    One of the actors in the film is the artist/poet Antonin Artaud, friend and lover of Anais Nin. Artaud, sadly, gradually went off his nut, and even at the time this film was made was already showing signs of it. Soon after he ended up in an asylum.

    He was tended to, at one time or another, by two other friends (and lovers–she got around) of Nin’s: Otto Rank, and a French analyst whose name inescapably escapes me now.

    It’s possible, then—in fact likely—that Artaud’s commitment to an asylum had some connection to a copy of the film ending up in one.

  • big bri

    I have a buddy,who’s about 50 years old from PHILEDELPHIA,U.S.A., who says his grandfather was a silent film camera man ,said he used to film CHARLIE CHAPLIN and other stars of that era…He also said his grandfather had tons of footage from those movies that was never used,but sadly when his grandfather died noone in the family knew what happened to all those old reels of silent film.

  • autonomousplebian

    This is a really good list, I’ve seen the General and I’ve wanted to see Nosferatu, but this list has opened my eyes to a whole new range of silent films


    I really really really want Metropolis on DVD.

  • Skrillah

    The true passion for the art is present in every single entry on here.

  • debsfullcircle

    A while back I showed my two daughters a Harold Lloyd film and a Buster Keaton film. They didn’t know what silent movies were, but absolutely loved them! They wanted more. They were 5 and 15 years old at the time. That, to me, says good film making!

  • Luv4Tahoe

    I have never seen a silent film. I consider myself a “movie lover”, which I think is different from a “film buff”. Ya, I have a large movie collection, (approching 1,100 dvd/blue ray), but sadly, not one movie made before 1970. I would REALLY like to get familliar with some of these silent films, as well as classic movies.

    Also, thanks for the Nosferatu full length. I have no sound on my computer at work, now I have something to do this morning. (Slow work week!!)

  • Seth

    Good list! They had silent films in the past! What would be the future of films like in 2050 AD ? Would films would become like video games where you can interact with characters?

  • Randall

    @FATSEXY (181):

    Be careful which DVD version of it you purchase. A while back I bought a cheap one on eBay from China or Korea… now, I’ve often had good luck with these—they’re knockoffs, sure, but with old movies it doesn’t often matter. You might not get some features if a special edition was ever put out, but oh well.

    However, in the case of Metropolis, there are multiple versions of the film on DVD that exist. (since it, like many other old films, is now in the public domain). And many are obviously culled from old VHS versions, and have thus not been remastered. And you end up with something that has terrible visual quality. It detracts from your enjoyment of the film, trust me.

    In a case like this, it’s best to get a certified, authentic version on DVD, and preferably the latest–fully restored and remastered.

  • Ny

    Ah, the age of the silent film… nowadays, such a concept would be obsolete.

    Nosferatu is a personal favourite here.

  • max brownawell

    what about the Triplets of Bellville? It’s not silent, but there are no words, just music.

  • imacanadian

    Nice list, I am extremely surprised that Chaplin’s “The Kid” did not make an appearance, but still great job putting it together!

  • henrysmyagent

    Hurray for Harold Lloyd! He is my favorite, but there is no denying that Chaplin’s work has really held up over time. They were both histerical. Chaplin was probably the better actor. The speech at the end of The Great Dictator is one of the greatest speeches ever, real or fictional.

  • weegmc

    Great list, I would love to see a follow up on the ten biggest silent film stars.

  • HerbalEsso

    City Lights is an amazing piece. I actually took a class that examined the techniques and methods of that movie.

  • nicoleredz3

    I’m also surprised to know that The Phantom of the Opera was done before Andrew Lloyd Webber! But, can someone enlighten me: how can an opera (any musical) movie be SILENT? No wonder A.L.W.’s is the more popular version… Gotta see it myself to understand, I suppose… This list surely piques my interest! Good compilation, IceKeyHunter! Jfrater, I hope you got my submission, btw… :-D

  • AndrewL

    Only seen The General and City Lights, but both were amazing and am glad to see them on the list. I definitely need to watch the rest of them sometime in my life :^D

  • QDV

    @nicoleredz3 (193):

    You might be surprised to find that “Phantom of the Opera” was a 1909/1910 novel before it was anything else. :-) In the Chaney version, the opera featured is “Faust.” Appropriate, I’d say, for someone who sells their soul to the Devil in exchange for talent and glory?

  • V

    You guys should seriously see Häxan: Witchcraft through ages (1921 documentary about witchcraft) Amazing doc, quite funny also.

  • Randall

    @nicoleredz3 (193):

    In fact, Nicole, Phantom of the Opera was filmed three times prior to sickeningly awful Andrew Lloyd Webber getting his grubby hands on it.

    The Lon Chaney version—still to this day the best, by far.

    A 1948 color version with Claude Rains as the Phantom, which toned down the horror aspects of the story considerably, making it into essentially a musical romance.

    And a 1962 Hammer Films version which, while to my taste better than the ’48 version, still falls far short of Lon Chaney’s original.

    As to how an opera can be staged silently–take a look at the film. The opera performances themselves are secondary. The film is riveting.

    Remember, also, that silent films were always accompanied by live music, and later sometimes recorded music that was loosely synchronized to the onscreen action.

  • Sbrd

    Oh, what a wonderful prize. I’ve seen Birth of a Nation, but none of these other films. This list makes me want to delve into the subject much further.

  • Milky

    I love silent films, but my favorite has to be Un chien Andalou! Dali is my all-time favorite artist, and he was such a talented person all around.

  • dazza

    silent films really were deserving a list.

  • Dannan

    Wow, such a change from todays phantoms in ‘Phantom of the Opera’. That phantom isn’t ‘dreamy’ at all. ‘Nightmarey’, is more like it o_O.

  • Randall

    Okay… I had to do some thinking about this, knowing that, while this list touched on the greats, it left off many other very well-deserving titles.

    I’ve already mentioned the great Louise Brooks film, Pandora’s Box, and Abel Gance’s Napolean. Here’s some others that I recommend:

    “Les Vampires” (French serial about a gang of criminals)
    “Broken Blossoms” and “Orphans of the Storm” (two more great DW Griffith films)
    “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” (the version with John Barrymore in the title roles–amazing and horrific)
    “Nanook of the North” (one of the first–and best–documentaries).
    “Witchcraft Through the Ages (Haxan)” (the original version WITHOUT the narration that was later tacked on, by William Burroughs)
    “Seven Footprints to Satan” (great early horror film)
    “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (Lon Chaney’s other tour de force)
    “The Last Laugh” (one of the greatest German Expressionist films)
    “Peter Pan” (recently restored—my kids and I saw this at a theater here at the university a couple years back. An amazing work)
    “The Big Parade” (King Vidor’s anti-war epic)
    “The Lost World” (melodramatic and silly, but worth watching for Willis O’Brien’s great stop-motion effects work—he later did the same for the original “King Kong”)
    “Faust” (Another great German Expressionist effort)
    Beggars of Life (another great Louise Brooks film)
    The Crowd (another great King Vidor effort–he was a genius)
    “The Man who Laughs” (another early horror, with a great performance from Conrad Veidt)
    “October” (another amazing Communist propaganda film)
    “The Wedding March” (Erich Von Stroheim great, starring Fay Wray)
    “The Diary of a Lost Girl” (another great, and very edgy–for the time–Louise Brooks film. I’m a huge fan of hers)
    “Man with a Movie Camera” (Another Russian great of cinema verite)

  • Randall

    Oh, and ANY film that’s still available, with Lon Chaney, Sr. in it. He was unequalled.

  • Mike

    Wow nice list

  • skoolcool1349

    Really good list. loved metropolis and anything with Chaplin or Keaton. Nosferatu is one of the best horror movies ever, let alone in the silent era

  • undaunted warrior

    Randdal – you might have missed my post at @176, just want to try and anwser the info you wanted on the list dated November 30 th 2009 comment 60.

  • Arsnl

    @Randall (197): i always thought you were the type that prefers maxwell sheffield to alw.

  • Drenchweed

    I do like the list, people forget that there were many actors in silent films that just couldn’t make in “talkies”, e.g. Rudolph Valentino, whose voice did not match his “machoness”

  • DC

    I’m sure this has been said before, but I have a feeling a lot of people will be commenting on this list for a chance to win…me included!! tehe…:D
    but seriously, great list, I really need to find some of these films, but I’m not sure where I can find them!

  • Randall

    Sadly, what many people don’t realize is that the huge majority of silent films–I think something like 90% of them–are now lost. Lost forever. Up until… I think it was the late 30s, but perhaps even later than that–films were printed on a nitrate film stock that deteriorated badly and quickly if not stored in a highly regulated environment. Countless films were thus lost when studios did not make the effort to protect them, and it’s only through the passion of film enthusiasts–and sheer luck–that some of the greats of silent film and the early 30s talkies have survived.

  • Randall

    @undaunted warrior (206):

    Oh yes! Thanks.

  • looser13

    pick me. pleeeeaaaasse?

    Great list. im tempted to rent/ buy all of these.

  • Randall
  • Jordan

    Great list! There’s something about silent films that makes me really happy.

  • axelman

    the 1927 “Napoleon” by Abel Gance is clearly missing in this list…

  • ap

    I’ll bet my chances of winning that book are slim to none.

  • undaunted warrior

    @Randall(211) Will send in 45 min or so 8pm. here at the moment, just finishing the last of a good red wine at the dinner table and I will send it to you, its good reading if you are into that kind of stuff.

  • Spik5005

    Nosferatu still gives me nightmares lol.

  • Riku

    My two favorites are The Crowd and The Big Parade.

  • gunthergrass

    interesting list as always

  • niconiconico

    You’ve reaffirmed my love for silent movies. My Netflix queue is now bursting because of this.

  • IceKeyHunter

    Thanks for the kind words!

    In retrospect I probably could have made this a Top 20. “Napoleon” is definitely a glaring omission, as is “Broken Blossoms” and Chaplin’s “The Circus.”

    I kept “Voyage De La Lune” and “The Great Train Robbery” out because they’re not feature length, but I kind of went against that with including “Un Chien Andalou,” which I loved enough to make an exception.

  • Jam Lemon

    I’m glad “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” is in the list!
    I’m intrigued with Griffith’s films now.

  • Steve

    Excellent list! I love silent films, so I was pretty jazzed to see this up there. I would add two to this list: West of Zanzibar with Lon Chaney Sr. and Safety Last with Harold Lloyd. Keaton was alright, in my opinion, but Lloyd was better. But a great list all the same!

  • ldux
  • IceKeyHunter

    I regret that I have not actually seen Pandora’s Box. I guess I have to now. xD

  • IceKeyHunter

    Also, I have most of these on DVD obviously, but I don’t have “the Gold Rush” and I’ve been meaning to get it, so… :P

  • angela

    i love silent films. great list!

  • Indrid Cold

    Gee thanks! Now I’ve got a whole other list of stuff I have to watch.

  • Dianne

    I’ve seen so many versions of “Metropolis” it’s like it keeps evolving. I literally can-not-wait until the newest version is shown.

    Another silent film I find compelling is “The Conquering Power” which stars Rudolph Valentino.

  • DCI

    I thought easy street would be here but oh well great list.

  • Nilla6

    I’m so happy, I knew and have watched almost all of them! It confirms that my cinema class this year is really awesome.

  • joker

    ive only heard of a few of these,good list though.

  • Puyol

    excellent list
    also check out the solomnetrist

  • jreddy666

    Great list, I need to check some of these out

  • Rod_M

    I would love to see more modern silent movies, would be an awesome challenge to make a silent movie having our brain costumed to use spoken language, love Begotten just as an example.

  • psychosurfer

    Well… uhm, I really don´t have anything interesting to contribute, I just want a book.
    I hope my honesty makes me worthy of the prize, that and my Great looks of course.

  • LuzG

    Nosferatu and metropolis are classics! Really good list.

  • undaunted warrior

    @Randall(211) – You owe me a good bottle of red wine sorry it took so long but the anwsers speak for themselfs.

    Here goes

    Crustaceans have gills that are surrounded by water. The respiratory surfaces are therefore outside the body in many species of small crustaceans such as amphipods and isopods or carriedin a chamber(in the Decapoda-crabs, crayfish and shrimps) that is connected by an aperture to the surrounding oxygen rich water that flushes through the chamber. The size of the gill simply increases with the size of the crutaceaan One of the exceptions to this rule is the specialized adaptations that land-living isopods -the woodlice- had to undergo to breathe outsidethe water.

    In the case of insects air has to diffuse passively through the trachea which prohibits the increase in size of insects.

    Booklungs have evolved from gills and are closest to the surface

  • MK

    Here is another great silent movie:

  • copperdragon

    @Randall (202):

    Thanks for the listing.

    Still no love for Harold Lloyd or “Safety Last”??

  • Miss Kimothy

    I’m surprised you didn’t include Harold Lloyd’s Safety Last, which gives us the perhaps most enduring image of that era, in which Lloyd is hanging off the arms of a clock over a busy street:

    Others to consider:
    Chaplin’s “The Kid” — first feature length “dramady” so to speak, combining drama and pathos (bathos?) and creating the first bonafide child star (Jackie Coogan)

    Fairbanks in “The Thief of Bagdad” — special effects were groundbreaking at that time

    Clara Bow/Charles “Buddy” Rogers in “Wings” — first Acadamy Award Best Picture winner (award was known then as “Best Picture, Production”)– first movie to show man-on-man kiss onscreen (albeit a fraternal not romantic kiss during a death scene, but still)!!!!

    Georges Melies’ “Le Voyage Dans La Lune” — 1902! Man lands on the Moon! Special effects! Quintessential image of the Moon with a rocket stuck in his eye!

    Great, great list, and I totally HEART you and your work!!!

  • Big Staff

    Great list i have seen most of them, Buster Keaton in The General was the best in my opinion.

  • Randall

    @undaunted warrior (239):

    Thanks very much… but a bottle of wine? No offense, but you didn’t really answer what I’d asked.

    I understand that crabs and other crustaceans have gills. What I don’t understand is how they can breathe (seemingly) both in *and* out of water. Are their gills able to filter oxygen from air as well as water, or no? Are they just really good at “holding their breath,” as it were?

    I mean, your post DOES explain why some crustaceans can reach sizes that insects can’t, I’ll grant you. But I think my original question had more to do with how it is some of them can apparently breathe in and out of water.

  • Randall

    @copperdragon (241):

    Harold Lloyd? He’s good. Sometimes very good. But I don’t place him in quite the same rank as Keaton or Chaplin. Though, yes… they are, together, a triad of great silent comedians, there’s no doubt. It’s just that Keaton and Chaplin wrote and produced their own material, whereas Lloyd, unless I’m mistaken, did not.

  • Sam27

    I’d love to see Nosferatu. I’ve seen Shadow of the Vampire, which is a fictional account of the making of the movie in which Max Shreck is a real vampire. It was pretty good, if a bit slow at times.

  • 3M4NU31

    great list, have yet to see any of them, but would like to

  • justcurious1

    I saw an episode of Star Trek that referenced the Potemkin. The name seemed strange, but now I know where it came from. Interesting list, one doesn’t think about silent films that much.

  • WhiteDragon

    I was never interested in silent films but your critique of them has really got me interested…I might have to try and get my hands on some of these!

  • yeah

    Thank you for this list.

  • Jorge

    Glad to see Eisenstein there. October could have been included as well.

  • katrin

    Thanks for the list, the only silent film i’ve seen so far is La Antena

  • ER008

    I watched Birth of a Nation as part of a course titled “Literature of Social Justice.” It’s amazing the effect films can have.

  • Film_Fan

    I’ve seen all of the films on this list, and was glad to see Sunrise listed as #1. To say this is a beautiful, haunting film is an understatement.

    “Sunrise” was actually made after the introduction of synchronized sound, and demonstrates what the developers of sound film technology had in mind–and no, it wasn’t necessarily “all talking, all singing, all dancing.”

    It should be noted that the transition to all talking films did not happen overnight, and many of the late silent feature films, from about 1927-1929, DID have musical soundtracks and sound effects–but no spoken dialogue.

    Some silent films made during this period also included a one reel “talking sequence,” that was normally tacked onto the end of the film just before its release. In that way, these films could be marketed as “Part Talking.”

    Along this line, many of the early all talking films, notably, “All Quiet on the Western Front,” (1930) were also released as silent films, using sub-titles in place of the spoken dialogue. These were intended for theaters that had not yet been wired to show sound movies.

  • Maggot

    @Randall (83): As a major film buff…

    @bucslim (107): As a major film buff…

    I’m not a major film buff, but I’ll occasionally watch a film in the buff. Depends on the mood.

  • fordman

    Fantastic list! I’m surprised there isn’t a list like this already too!!!

  • Dan

    I’m ashamed to say that though I’m a large cinema fan, I’ve never seen more than passing clips of silent movies. I don’t know why, maybe because they don’t really run hear often and we’ve lost all our little independent rental stores that had esoteric classics. After reading this list I think I’m going to try to check out some of these movies.

  • allie80

    Love silent movies! I have only seen a couple but what a way to start out. From silent to CGI. Great list!

  • khadfa

    I really want to see the joan of ark film because i’m so interested in history.

  • Canttouchthis193

    whoa, great list. ive never watched a silent film before, but i love movies, so silent movies should be good too, right? plus i have 2 little brothers (4 and 6 years old) so the silence should be nice. haha ;D

  • Mutchew

    Put the Last Laugh on here and then we’ll talk.

  • Freemont Wood

    Great list! It’s a shame that silent film often gets forgotten in the wake of the latest CGI-fuelled movie. Glad to see that the classics can still be appreciated.

  • Mutchew

    Also, replace Sherlock Holmes Jr. with Safety Last! and the General with The Camera Man. Sure, The General has some good spectacle, but it lacks in the warmth of other Keaton films.

  • Jessica

    phantom of the opera is one my favourites! that is, until the insufferable lloyd webber took a giant crap on it.

  • ZERO

    another vote for journey to the moon!
    i will always remember the grotesque face in the moon when it is hit by the “rocket” in the eye.

    +1 miss kimothy!! @242

    Georges Melies’ “Le Voyage Dans La Lune” — 1902! Man lands on the Moon! Special effects! Quintessential image of the Moon with a rocket stuck in his eye!

  • debbie

    love the phantom of the opera. and i agree the joan of arc film is haunting and amazing

  • Randall

    @Maggot (255):

    I often drive in the buff. It’s…. “exhilarating.”

  • CaptainFelt

    Metropolis is my favourite movie

  • Lauren

    We watched Modern Times in my Design history class the other day. It made me want to check out more of Chaplin’s movies. I’ve seen Andalou as well, and I’ve been meaning to check out Nosferatu for some time now.

  • Vera Lynn

    I’ll tell you how silly I am. I checked my volume and muted my TV before I hit play on the first one (Phantom of the Opera). These look like wonderful movies. I have heard of most of them, but haven’t seen any. I’d like to, though. I wonder if theyre hard to find. Hmm…

  • Andrew

    this is a very interesting list, great site also, i found it about a year ago and i have checked it every day since

  • Molly

    Metropolis would be my personal No.1, although I love this list as a whole, im a Film major and this list has made me all nostalgic!

  • victor

    very interesting list, i love the ones about videos and movies.

    Huge fan of this site!

  • BishopWhiteT

    Great list. Can’t wait to check several of these out. The only one I have is Nosferatu.

  • ringtailroxy

    oh man…since Randall & Bucslim aren’t playing nice, I guess my fantasy of staring in an adult film with them both won’t ever come about now…

    (wink…wink…love you both!)

  • ringtailroxy

    i’ve decided that Maggot is a better adult film co-star…anyone who admits watching films in the buff is a candidate in my book! (i will openly admit i can often be found at with my laptop in my lap while i am nude)

  • Leonie

    Interesting list! I’ve only heard of 3, but I will be checking a lot of these out :D

  • Loved your number 1 choice. Great film

  • Ashling

    Great list! :D

  • Lorikeet

    I hate to nitpick (this is a great list), but your blurb about D.W. Griffith is wrong on several counts. Here is a quote from Patrick Robertson’s book Movie Facts and Feats:

    “The persistent claim of D.W. Griffith to have been the only begetter of the close-up–he even went so far as to suggest he could have patented the technique–has now been rejected by most film historians, though many still credit him with having been the first to employ the interpolated facial close-up as a dramatic device to register emotion. Even this had been accomplished a year before Griffith enterted the film industry. In the AM&B production The Yale Laundry (US 07), a comedy about students at Yale playing a jape on their professors, close-ups are used to show surprise on the faces of the victims.”

    So, while Griffith was certainly a great innovator, he didn’t accomplish everything he is credited with.

  • Ashling

    Great list!

  • Mabel

    Ooh, I love silent films. I saw a Lon Chaney one that was awesome, “He Who Gets Slapped.” It was about a man whose wife left him and he became a circus clown who is a very tragic figure. I also watched the original “Hunchback of Notre Dame” with Chaney. He was such a good actor, capable of great subtlety even in the eye-rolling, exaggerated world of silent film acting. His performances stand out in his flicks.

    “Phantom of the Opera” is way better with him as a monstrous psycho than as a sappy musical, IMO.

    I have “Nosferatu” but I haven’t watched it yet. I keep forgetting I’ve got it on a compliation DVD. And “Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” is on my Netflix. Whee!

  • Jubbs

    I loved phantom of the Opera… only other one I’ve heard of on this list is Nosferatu (I think i spelled that right…)

  • Andied

    Hey JFrater! I read your lists every day after school. Thanks for helping me learn new and interesting things! :D

  • LauraS

    Hi, long time reader of listverse, it’s a great site and never fails to entertain :-)

  • e-bit

    im surprised phantom of the opera isn’t higher on the list since it as a movie is more known but of corse when it comes to actors of silent films Charlie chaplin is the remembered the most

  • Human?


  • elbobbo

    Great List, being a movie geek I have seen most of these, never saw number 1 though so I feel like I should. I was surprised Passion of Joan of Arc wasn’t first. the director also did a silent film called Vampyr that was really good. Its amazing how movies have changed and how silent films told their stories through so little dialogue.

  • hashbrown

    Interesting list. i’m not usually one for silent films, or even B&W ones for that matter, but some of these descriptions/clips have me intrigued.

  • Rowena

    I sadly confess that I am too impatient to wait for my computer to load and then play all of these samples provided. So I only watched a couple… I also must sadly confess that the only silent movies I’ve watched are a couple of Charlie Chaplin ones. (I don’t watch many talkies, either, if it makes it any better)
    However, the Passion of Joan of Arc looks to be an intensely powerful movie, which I must watch sometime.
    And Randall, I must be impressed by the thoroughness of your comments. I’ve noted it before – but to come up with another 20 silent movies you recommend is amazing.

  • w00tz

    I KNEW Greed would be on this list! :) I read an article about. Sad how the greedy execs ruined his work!

  • Nelia

    I’ve never heard of number one, it sounds like an interesting film! Liked the list.

  • Heather

    Great list, I’m going to have to rent the ones I haven’t seen.

    Chris (#40) “M” wasn’t silent. It’s awesome, but not silent. Remember the creepy whistling?

  • nuriko

    I love Phantom and Joan of Arc… :)

  • gazza

    nosferatu the character appeared in an episode of spongebob squarepants :)

  • illbegood

    Well, I come here everyday, love the site but very rarely comment. But heck, with a shot at winning the book, I really had no choice LOL. I’ve never seen a silent film, but loved the list anyway.

  • KatiesGoldenDust

    Great list. I personally am not the biggest fan, but I have seen a few of these: The Birth of a Nation, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, City Lights, The Passion of Joan of Arc, and Sunrise. All are excellent and I would gladly watch them again.

    I have yet to see The Battleship Potemkin, Intolerance, Nosferatu, Un chien andalou, or the Phantom of the Opera, though I have repeatedly heard good things about those movies. I may watch them at some point because I thoroughly enjoyed the ones I have already seen and this list reinforced those notions.

  • Ratface

    @295: he was flipping the light switch :)

  • Tonio

    Great list! ive never seen any of these but i hope to in the near future. Keep up the great work Listverse!

  • Tonio

    300 is the greatest movie ever, and my comment number?

  • KatiesGoldenDust

    *The biggest fan of silent films, I meant to say..

  • jake ryder

    I’ve been a longtime fan of silent movies. Un Chien Andalou is probaby the weirdest movie I’ve ever seen. Metropolis is my personal favourite.

    Very well done.

  • Z0mgZ0rs

    Good list. Hope i win ;)

  • bobby

    I have to agree with Brownie and say that it would be interesting to see a silent film made with modern film technology today. The use of color and special effects would provide a great deal of change in itself. I wish that some actors could be seen in a setting of silent film. Given the general attitude toward his acting, Marlon Brando would have been a very interesting person to see perform. Considering musical talents like John Williams also makes for an interesting thought on the silent film. Who knows, maybe in a silent film Fran Drescher would even be enjoyable to watch.

  • ninjafoohy

    Is it true that women were fainting in the aisles when the Phantom appeared on screen? I’ve always heard that but always suspected that it was just an urban legend…

    And I’ve been meaning to check out Nosferatu! I’ll have to do that. Thanks for reminding me, IceKeyHunter :)Nice list!

  • kking

    Solid list.

    I’ve only ever seen The General and Nosferatu (a personal favourite).

  • Marshall

    Is i odd that I have seen most of these, but not one in its entirety?

  • trevor thornhill

    mister john no home

  • Film_Fan

    bobby/brownie, actually, there WAS a silent feature film made by Mel Brooks in 1976, called “Silent Movie.”

    SEE —

    The film is actually quite funny, with more contemporary sight-gags and adult situations than you would have had in the golden age of silent movies. The only spoken line in the film (I think, one word) was delivered by the late, great mime, Marcel Marceau.

  • flopstar

    I dont post much on these things but this list is paricularily interesting to me as to why people dont make silent movies anymore why will a company not invest in it people buy into all the wierd new ideas that arent really new ao why not that

  • Randall

    @Rowena (290):

    Thanks. It’s just that I’ve loved old movies since I was a little kid… so I’ve had quite a few years to see all these… and a lot of film classes in college helped.

    Trust me. You *will* love The Passion of Joan of Arc.

  • josephebraul

    I really thought that City Lights or Modern Times would be on first when i read the title of the list.
    Good Top 15 though.


  • Randall

    @flopstar (310): @bobby (304):

    People *are* still making silent films once in a while… “The Call of Cthulhu” for instance:

    But this is always done by independents and “art film” makers.

    No major studio today would ever bankroll a silent film. It might be a novelty that some people would check out, as they did back in the 70s with Mel Brooks’ “Silent Movie.” But to invest money in a serious silent film just would never happen. The economics of filmmaking has changed too much. The major studios now only pay out money for about 5 or 6 big films a year—at most—at budgets of 50 – 100 million dollars a piece. They spend this big money because it usually leads to large returns. It’s the idea of the “blockbuster.” Before the 70s, studios made 50 or even 100 movies a year. Each studio. The films cost less, but you had so many of them in release that if one tanked, you’d make up the cash in the others. But over time, Hollywood came to rely on BIG money returns, from movies like Jaws and Star Wars and Close Encounters, and that started things steamrolling, to the point today where we have “franchises”–big fantasy films that are guaranteed to return an investment because the audience knows the characters and situations, etc. Spiderman, Harry Potter, Star Trek, Transformers, Batman, Iron Man, Die Hard, etc. etc. These are HUGELY expensive films to make, but they usually bring in what they cost, plus a lot more. And a lot of that money gets funneled out of the studio to the larger corporation that owns it. When studios were family owned businesses, it was different. But now they’re just part of a chain of income.

    So we’ll never see the days again, from Hollywood, of risk-taking on the scale of making a silent film, or even black and white films. Once in a great while, maybe (Raging Bull for instance—but even that was thirty years ago now) but not likely. Silent film? Even less so.

  • lucas

    Great list! Another notable film is the 1927 best picture winner “Wings”.

  • Moonbeam

    This is kind of a side note…there is a museum in Rochester, New York, USA called The George Eastman House that restores and preserves photos and film. They have a vast collection that includes many (if not all) of the silent movies listed. (George Eastman started the Eastman Kodak Company which continues to manufacture film for photography and movies.) They show a wide variety of films from the silent era up until more current releases at their theater which originally was Mr. Eastman’s private movie house.

    The beautiful Louise Brooks, the silent film actress mentioned in many comments above, lived the final years of her life in Rochester. She was encouraged to move there by the film curator for the museum, James Card, after he discovered her living in New York City as a recluse. She was ahead of her time and led a fascinating, tragic and strongly independent life.

  • ashleysweet

    haha! I’ve seen ALL of these! i sit and talk about these movies all the time and no one knows what im talking about…lots of people say im “too old fashion” but i LOVE silent films. The phantom of the opera and Nosfaratu and Un Chien Andlou (sorry i butchered the name i think) were all really really good ive got them all memorized!!! another great silent film is the hunchback of notre dame with lon chaney in it!

  • Zeppgirl

    Awesome list. I watched Birth of a nation for one of my classes and it was a remarkable film, glad to see you include it.

  • Chels

    I’ve always loved the silent films. GREAT list! :D

  • Ren

    Wow, I never really had much of an interest in silent films before but after reading this I really want to see every movie on this list.

  • Vera Lynn

    Wish the whole Jay Leno/Conan O’Brian thing was silent. 45 million to shut up and go away? Ive been teaching for a LONG time. Barely making ends meet.

  • Randall

    @Moonbeam (315):

    I forgot you were a fellow upstate New Yorker. The George Eastman House is a great place. It makes me happy to think that we had Louise so close by… I’m a huge fan of hers.

    Zita Johan too… she lived in upstate and when she died, she was cremated and her ashes scattered in an upstate river. I’ve thus joked with my daughter on occasion, “we’re drinking Zita Johan.”

  • kashmirj

    I’m not a huge fan of silent films but reading this list has definitely given me something to consider! These choices are intriguing :)

  • ryan

    contest entry :P

  • karolina

    I can say that honestly “Un Chien andalou” traumatized me, and yes I’m talking about the infamous eyeball scene.

    “Birth of Nation” I saw during history my first semester. It should be a rites of pasage for every college student to fully understand the racism and battles against it that have taken us to todays situation.

    My goal is to see Nosferatu and Metropolis but its hard to get them.

  • FlameHorse

    Geez, you guys are such leeches, 325 comments, all trying to luck into that book. Oh wait…CRAP I just commented!

  • Element-x

    Man i want that book because i like list verse and i dont get alot of reading so if i win i wil read like 9,000

  • Shadow

    This is an amazing list. :)
    I’ve always loved silent films.

  • Ashley

    Awesome list! I think silent movies are underrated. Everyone should see a few in their lifetime. It’s funny that this list was published today because I actually watched Gold Rush in one of my classes today!

  • Nysee

    Great list! As one of the few people under 80 (I’m even under 50, lol) who knows about the likes of Francis X. Bushman and Mary Miles Mintner, I can honestly say that silents are underrated. Or, if pressed, I’ll declare that sound ruined the motion picture industry :)

  • Amber

    I’m surprised I’ve actually seen several from this list. My favourite of them is Metropolis.

  • CQSteve

    It’s a great list, but how the hell did you arrive at the placings and manage to stop at 15? I’ve seen a few of the films mentioned here and would tip my hat to Nosferatu, but then that means Metropolis misses out, and where would I put Phantom of the Opera? Which leads me to Battleship Potemkin and City Lights arrggghhhhh …….

  • JadeRaven0

    Funnily enough Im taking a History of Film class at college and I think we’ll be watching history of a nation soon, and as much as I would like to get my hands on one of these and the book, you should probably pick commenter #10. It sucks to never have won something, took me forever to finally win something.

  • randomprecision24

    I love Charlie Chaplin. “A day without laughter is a day wasted.”

  • C

    There’s a competition and I’m commenting! Yay! I’ve been recommending this site to friends for two years. Pick me, pick me!

  • Bill
  • dollymix

    Good list, based on the ones I’ve seen, but I’d add DeMille’s “The Cheat.”

  • Moderator

    Top Commenters

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  • BravehisTickle

    @Moderator (337): You are fake aren’t you?

  • Moderator

    Yes! I am fake but to check these stats!

    at bottom after privacy you will find these stats!

  • Shagrat

    A superb list; however I was disappointed to see “The Story of the Kelly Gang” was not a representsative here: Filmed in 1906 it is named as “the first ever feature-length film”

    It is the film which gave impetus and a green light to the fim industry and proved to the world that movies were not just a curiosity.

  • Lawrence

    What about Harold Lloyd’s films? Don’t know if they were as good as Chaplin’s but I think he deserves a mention.

  • Tri-Azteca

    I wanna watch the creepy one but I don’t want to get scared

  • BravehisTickle

    @Bill (335): Thanks man for the link, Do you have another with a top 50 list? ‘coz it’s difficult to choose from a 100..which ones to watch ;)

  • adam

    lucky star by frank borzage needs to be on this list. it’s the best, most honest love movie ever made

  • Rowena

    @Randall (311): Yay! The Great Randall replied to one of my comments! I feel special now.
    Anyway… to what I actually wanted to say… You could make a really powerful movie with silence, and black and white. Sometimes starkness and a lack of special effects could help the real point of a movie show so much better. If I ever (in a truly unlikely scenario) become a small movie producer, I would love to make at least one silent movie, just to show that it works. You’d need good actors, because it would focus more on them, and a good plot, and good choreography too, but it could be so very effective. And a refreshing change from all these brightly coloured and noisy films nowadays.

  • Carol P.

    I watched a silent film for the very first time a few days ago, i think it was a comedy. Anyways I didn’t realize silent films had such a following

  • Bag-o-tricks

    Wings? Won the first Academy award for best picture. Great movie!

  • I remember I watched the Odessa steps sequence in my art class.

  • Jael

    I’ve been meaning to watch “The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari” and “Nosferatu” for ages. I once watched part of “The Passion of Joan of Arc” on TCM, but then my sister threw a tantrum on wanting to watch Hannah Montana instead and my dad made me change the channel.

  • KChamps

    Great list! Definitely agree with #14 and #4.

  • dlo5526

    Ohh man….. Metropolis is a movie sooo ahead of its time. Imagine with out it there probly would have never been any movies Sci-fi’s like Star Wars and Avatar. And Nosferatu FTW yea i seen him on Spongebob lol flickering with the lights lmao.;p

  • Patrick1213

    wow! I enjoyed watching Mr. Bean and you can watch it without sound. Time to look for these films, Nosferatu, Nos 2 & 3 especially. Thanks listverse!

  • Da_Canadian_Man

    Its nice to see original lists especially when they are as interesting as this one! Nice work!

  • IceKeyHunter

    @347 That’s true, but actually, at the First Academy Awards there were TWO categories for Best Picture: “Best Picture, Production,” and “Best Picture, Unique and Artistic Production.” Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans won the latter award.

    Anyway, I’m very happy with the response my list has gotten, even though it’s mostly for the competition. I definitely hope to do more movie lists in the future!

  • BravehisTickle

    @IceKeyHunter (354): Nopes man yer list is great! Competitions keep happening but good lists are hard to come by :)

  • Ben

    Wow! I never realized how many great movies there really were during the silent era. I have seen at least 3 of these (and own 1). It would be interesting to see how many modern classics would stand out if they had been created in the silent era.

  • theYnc

    @IceKeyHunter (354): Did you find the Ice key?

  • Oscar

    Awesome list mate. Also Iv always heard of Nosferatu and even saw it on spongebob (the 24 hour open episode) but I never knew it was silent. I now do ha, keep up ya list making mate xD
    And wow a contest xD Whoever wins, congrats to them.

  • icekeyhunter

    @theYnc (357): Yes. Yes I have. Also forgot I had an account on here. =/

  • Skrillah

    359 comments????!? What greedy mafukkas we have up in here!

  • BravehisTickle

    @Skrillah (360): What is a mafukka?

  • Drewdy

    One way to increase the number of comments is to offer a contest.
    To be honest, I really don’t like black and white films. It makes it difficult to appreciate the story. I would rather read the book.

  • osab

    i am poor ineed that book so badly pl! Mr.jfrater donate an extra book for me in case your random selection didnt select me plzzzz!zzzzzzz

  • Edward

    Good list. My favorite is Metropolis. Such an unique, early cyberpunk style.

  • T

    I loved Song of Two Humans.

  • Galactus

    It’s funny how a contest can shoot up the number of comments on a list. :D

  • trixy-vj

    lol i wonder how many people are posting comment just for the chance to win.

  • And the winner is: Comment 249: WhiteDragon. Congratulations! Email me ([email protected]) with your street address and choice of DVD from the list.

  • charlimara

    always wanted to have some guide on silent films, some of them i know because well, they are quite known but its great to have some more, thanks

    and do randomly pick me :D

  • Yogipogi

    oh darn!

  • knight_forked

    Good list…watched pretty much all but four of them and they are in my must watch list.

  • aaaaaaa

    I enjoyed reading the list, but I enjoyed more reading the comments… :P

  • Stefan

    Trust everybody to comment when there’s something in it you materialistic asses :P
    but as they say, you gotta be in it to win it!

  • bewithme

    be with me is an amazing silent film. it was produced in the recent years.

  • Moonbeam

    @Randall (321): Sorry to say I had not heard of Zita Johan, so I’m off to search her bio. I love how one list inspires me to explore the world a bit more.

    Have you thought of expanding your silent film list in to a Listverse list? I know you’re often busy, but I enjoyed your previous list about Hammer films.

    @Rowena (345): In your post you say,”I would love to make at least one silent movie, just to show that it works.” I think these movies already prove that it works! By the way this is not ment as a criticism, just a thought. :D

  • Moonbeam

    @BravehisTickle (361): There’s a local radio guy near me who uises words like “mother hucker” and “sha-zit” to get around the censors! Kinda clever. ;D

  • Moonbeam

    “uses” not “uises”

  • themoo

    Saw The General in the 70’s after renting it from the library on the old movie reels (I am showing my age) and thought it was the funniest movie I ever saw. Must make a list of the others so I can also watch them.

  • Randall

    @Moonbeam (375):

    Zita Johan was an actress rather like Louise Brooks—attractive, sexy, opinionated, no-nonsense, tough, intelligent. She starred in the original “Mummy” with Boris Karloff.

    Turning my suggestion list into a List Universe list is a nice idea, but here we are on a thread for a list of “15 Greatest Silent Films.” So what would I write? “Another 15 Greatest Silent Films?” I think it would require another angle.

  • CandJ

    love the list,have loved silent films my whole life,my paternal grandparents actually knew Buster & Dorothy(his wife)Keaton,my grandparents have both passed but my father has several photos of them with the Keatons(a couple of them even show the ‘great stone face’ smiling,so awesome.

  • CandJ

    Opps I need to correct myself,Buster’s wife was Eleanor,not Dorothy(not sure were that came from)lol :D

  • Scratch

    @CandJ (380):

    That’s awesome. Buster Keaton did stunts that no Hollywood actor would ever think of attempting. His physicality is amazing.

  • Patrask

    Wow.. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I haven’t seen any of these. :-/

  • CandJ

    Hi Scratch 382
    Keaton was so amazing & ahead of his time,I watched a bio on him once & actor Dick Van Dyke(a friend of his)said Buster had broken every bone in his body(throughout his career)including his neck,which he didn’t even know he had,untill he got an xray,for headaches he was suffering from,unbelievable.
    BTW have you ever seen the Twilight Zone episode W/ Keaton called “Once Upon a Time”? Buster was doing his own stunts well into his 60’s

  • Rowena

    @Moonbeam (375): What I meant was I want to prove to today’s audiences/producers that it can work. Obviously, yes, based on these it can work – but ask any random kid my age (16) about silent movies and chances are they won’t think it could be possible – or at least think that it could only work for incredibly primitive movies. What I want is to show them that they’re wrong.

  • Scratch

    @CandJ (384):

    I saw a bio on Keaton, but it was filmed while he was alive and filming the Railrodder. I would love to see the bio that you saw as well as that Twilight Zone episode. I did not know that he was friends with Dick Van Dyke.

    The sad thing is that a man of Keaton’s talents probably wouldn’t be given a chance in today’s industry except possibly as a stuntman.

  • Krystalmd97

    I have seen Un chien Andalou while i was attending a Pixies Concert last September at the Palladium in Hollywood. They played the 16 miunute movie in its entirity (I believe they played the entire 16 minutes anyway)I had never seen the short film before, but it was truely awesome. The entire audience was watching in amazement and couriuos as to what the heck we were watching. They started the film while looping the music for Debaser- then after the short film ended the band came out and started off the show. it was SO AWESOME. My boyfriend and I thought the movie was so neat, a few days after the concert we did some research to find out the name and director of the short film, to our astonishment it was a work of Dali’s! how wonderful! such a cool film from our favorite artist of all time.

  • Shelle

    Another fantastic list and many films that I will have to check out!

  • Kanza

    @Randall (313):

    I was about to suggest The Call of Cthulhu as a sort of a bonus when I decided to look if someone had already mentioned it. A very enjoyable movie and, in my opinion, the best Lovecraft adaptation to date – the only one that manages to recreate the aura of mystery, dread and uncertainty of his stories.

    Congratulations to the list author and to Randall for his additions to the list. Other movies that come to my mind are The Hands of Orlac, by Robert Wiene, and The Golem, by Paul Wegener.

  • Arny

    very good list…there is one film i would like to note is called Pushpak! Its an indian film i stumbled upon and its marvellous piece of work!

  • Jinny

    I absolutely love silent movies! I couldn’t make a better list!

  • Krailey

    Nice list! ;) I’d like to see one of those. . Especially Phantom of the Opera. . I am currently reading the novel and I’ll be expecting too much from the movie! ^^,

  • elizabeth

    Oh my god. The first time I looked over this list I didn’t see City Lights and then I did a double take. That ending is so touching. For some reason, it reminds me of this really great old horror movie ending, Eyes without a Face.

  • Anonymous

    A multinational coproduction by UK, Germany and the British Raj:

    PS: So many people sucking up to jfrater. Tut tut. Unfortunately, I’m a day too late to do any sucking up. :-P

  • steph_nz

    I never thought I could enjoy a silent movie until I watched the very short clips attached for City Lights and The Passion of Joan of Arc…the second left me hanging, what a place to end the clip!? I will have to delve further into YouTube!

  • kate1989

    This is my absolute favourite list to date!!

    I would have loved to have seen “Pandora’s Box” on the list but the 15 that did make the cut are absolutely fantastic!

  • Roger

    What about Mel Brooks ‘Silent Movie’? :-)

  • L’Economa Domestica

    No Italian movies here??? What’s about Cabiria and Last days of Pompeii (with real volcano images)?

  • ants1

    No Vampyr….go figure.

  • Anthony

    I’m number 399! i hope i win! (miracles never happen)

  • deeeziner

    @Anthony (400): See comment 368…At this point, if you win, it would be an actual miracle.

  • pookiemonster

    Silent movies are my ex-stepdad’s favorite films
    When he was with my mom, we’d stay up watching them on the weekends..Charlie Chaplin’s great!

  • 14gotmyMANTRA

    Thanks for this list. I love some of these and am looking forward to checking out the others.

  • Yeahboy

    hahaha nice list!! :))

  • G Note

    I hadn’t heard of ‘Metropolis’ before. Quite interesting and something i’ll have to look up.

  • Dead Mike

    Trapped by the Mormons should have been on this list!

  • brett coster

    Great list. I’ve got all but 3 of them in my collection, those being Un chien Andalou, Sherlock Jr and Greed. They’re on the to do list.

    Like others here, I’ve been smitten with Louise Brooks for many years; Pandora’s Box is an outstanding film, so I think it’s a big miss. Diary of a Lost Girl (her follow up movie with GW Pabst) is on my to do list, too.

    Metropolis must be one of the most influential films ever made. I first saw part of it when I was 7 or 8 and the images stuck with me ever since.

    I really love Sunrise, too. It’s a simple story but played so well. Haven’t seen Tabu or the Last Laugh, but they are also must haves for my collection.

    A couple of others to consider; Ben Hur, the 1923 version, is 1 hour shorter and heaps better than the Charlton Heston one. I also add to the call for Gance’s Napoleon: absolutely stunning. Same with Man with a Movie Camera: a Russian documentary that even shows how film can change how you see things, even as to how it was made.

    Modern Times by Chaplin rates with The Gold Rush, and The Kid is pretty stunning for 1920, too.

    So, will a list of the top 20 silent actors be coming? (Louise Brooks, Buster Keaton, Gromit, Charlie Chaplin, Gloria Swanson, Greta Garbo, Harpo Marx…)

  • Vn1905

    nice, Sunrise is one of my favourite films of all time, my personal favourite silent would be Pandora’s Box though.

  • Great idea. In silent movies era people should work harder to make a great movie…

  • Jona for movie lovers! ;)

  • archangel

    suprisingly uplifting list. stories of creative genius make me feel good. xD

  • Mel

    I think it is a good list but wonder why “M” did not make the list.

  • Kanza

    @ Mel (412):

    If you mean the 1931 movie by Fritz Lang, that would be because it’s not a silent movie.

  • MarieHolli

    Why is Wings not on this list? Other than Mel Brooks’ “Silent Movie” which should receive an honorable mention simply because it was a “silent” film made long long long after the silent movie era ended, Wings was the first silent film I ever saw and I was amazed with the dogfight scenes, they were incredible. The other shocker was the scene which showed Clara Bow’s bare back. I was surprised they showed so much of her back when there was such an uproar over Clark Gable carrying Vivian Lee up the staircase in Gone With the Wind. Wings, by the way, was the first motion picture to be awarded the Oscar for Best Picture.

  • Cant watch a movie with no sound… A.D.D….

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  • nicoleredz3

    @gazza (295):

    Yeah, that’s right! Thought I alone saw that… What a big kid am I! Nosferatu was great!

    Got a chance to see The Battleship Potemkin… I can safely say that it embedded a mark in my mind; I’ll never forget it! Especially the Odessa steps sequence. It made me cry a little as to how inhumane we humans can be…

  • Will Trame

    A notable omission is “Safety Last”. Legend has it during its initial run in 1923 a woman in the audience went into shock during Harold Lloyd’s building climbing sequence.

  • rebecca

    great list!! Not sure if anyone posted this info, but the movie about Joan of Arc was actually from the transcripts of her trial. they are still intact.

  • Art History DVD

    Yes I like charlie Chaplin the best!

  • Art History DVD

    Charlie Chaplin is the best and tops the list for me :)

  • CharlieMaryDoug

    A silent movie list without Pandora's Box? Stella Maris? Greed?

    Pandora's Box is, quite simply, amazing. Louise Brooks was vibrant, beautiful, and a darned good actress. What happened to her career is a travesty. But this movie is her masterpiece, the film that showed why she was so popular. She continues to delight, even more then half a century later.

    Stella Maris is, in my opinion, Mary Pickford's best movie. And that's saying something. Mary made hundreds of films, many considered "classics". Stella Maris, however, should be required viewing for those who think Pickford was only able to play "spunky little girl" parts. In this movie, she plays beautiful, and tragically crippled Stella. It would be a typical Pickford film, except that she also plays the ugly, deformed, and abused servant girl Unity Blake. The ending is all melodrama, but the amazing range of the traditionally "limited" Pickford makes Stella Maris a must on my list of silents.

    As for Greed….I believe that has been explained by another poster earlier, so I won't type a whole pargraph repeating them.


  • itsallabout

    Nosferatu is one of the best horror movies ever. The fact that it was made during the silent era just adds to it's creepiness. Just like you said, the shadows and Max Schreck are fantastically terrifying. Seriously, anyone who loves movies (especially scary ones!) should watch it.

  • blaaaah

    This is about the most boring conventional list I've ever seen. Griffiths is an awful film-maker and his films on here should be replaced by the genuinely revolutionary films of Abel Gance, who is woefully under-appreciated as it is. Gance's Napoleon should definitely take the top spot of any list like this.

  • JWW

    Great survey of the best silent films, although "Battleship Potemkin" probably really does deserve to be #1. It's one of the four or five most important films of all time.

  • Koudelka

    I miss here the film Extasy (1933) from Gustav Machaty.

  • Chas Hutchinson

    Can’t argue with the list ,just about perfect ihave all these great films,only beef Ozu’s” I Was Born But “&D.W. Griffith’s” Broken Blossoms”,should have gone close but what too take out?—– Aussie film Buff.

  • A

    Now there’s a nice list!
    Buster Keaton made it twice here!
    The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari had a very nice plot and Conrad was brilliant in it but to be honest I got bored watching some of the very verylong scenes that could’ve been much shorter.

  • No.5, “The Battleship Potemkin” is a must all for those who are movie fans. Its powerful, riveting, engrossing and at times shocking to watch. We all know about the “baby carriage” scene as it has been parodied in other movies. But the movie is relatively short (75-80 minutes) and sends a bleak image of the Bolshevik Revolution. Watch out for the “maggot” scene when the sailors aboard are being fed with tainted food and covered with the vile little creatures crawling on their food. There are two versions of this movie. One of course is the original, and then in the forties, the Russian government commission the great 20th century composer Dmitri Shostakovich to provide and compose the background score for the movie. The latter one is the one that I suggest watching.

  • Richard

    Awesome list!, it’s fantastic to see all these great films in here. I took up a course in Early Film History and got to see most of these. Guangzhou Travel Guide

  • Oui

    I’m proud to say that I’ve seen all of them except for Sherlock Jr. which I will watch this week. Yes.

  • Michael Salzhauer

    What about this modern classic?

  • Where is The Man with a Movie Camera, by Dziga Vertov, 1927? Or Walter Ruttmann’s Berlin: Symphony of a Great City?

  • Byron

    My list, I think, would go:

    1. The Gold Rush
    2. Sunrise
    3. Wings
    4. The Last Command
    5. Seventh Heaven
    6. The Passion Of Joan Of Arc
    7. The General
    8. City Lights
    9. Lucky Star
    10. The Wind
    11. It
    12. Thief Of Bagdad
    13. Steamboat Bill Jr
    14. The Kid
    15. Safety Last

    Though I may have overlooked some I shouldn’t have.

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  • tq

    what about be hurr !!!
    the 1925 version

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