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Decade: 1920s
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3 Bad Men 1926

92
Silent
USA

Three outlaws come to the aid of a young girl after her father is killed.

Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages 1922

91
Silent
Sweden

Fictionalized documentary showing the evolution of witchcraft, from its pagan roots to its confusion with hysteria in modern Europe.

The Phantom of the Opera 1925

93
Silent
USA

At the Opera of Paris, a mysterious phantom threatens a famous lyric singer, Carlotta and thus forces her to give up her role (Marguerite in Faust) for unknown Christine Daae. Christine meets this phantom (a masked man) in the catacombs, where he lives. What's his goal? What's his secret?

A Page of Madness 1926

59
Silent
Japan

A man takes a job at an asylum with hopes of freeing his imprisoned wife.

A Straightforward Boy 1929

38
Silent
Japan

A kidnapped boy proves to be more than his abductor can handle.

The Andalusian Dog 1929

16
Silent
France

A surrealistic film with input from Salvador Dalí. Director Luis Buñuel presents stark, surrealistic images including the slitting open of a woman's eye and a dead horse being pulled along on top of a piano.

Anémic cinéma 1926

7
Silent
France

A spiral design spins dizzily. It's replaced by a spinning disk. These two continue in perfect alternation until the end: a spiral design, a disk. Each disk is labelled and can be read as it rotates. The messages, in French, feature puns and whimsical rhymes and alliteration. The final message comments on the spiral motif itself.

Arsenal 1929

90
Silent
Soviet Union

Set in the bleak aftermath and devastation of the World War I, a recently demobbed soldier, Timosh, returns to his hometown Kiev, after having survived a train wreck. His arrival coincides with a national celebration of Ukrainian freedom, but the festivities are not to last as a disenchanted.

Ballet Mécanique 1924

19
Silent
France

A pulsing, kaleidoscope of images set to an energetic soundtrack. A young women swings in a garden; a woman's face smiles. The rest is spinning cylinders, pistons, gears and turbines, kitchen objects in concentric circles or rows - pots, pan lids, and funnels, cars passing overhead, a spinning carnival ride. Over and over, a heavy-set woman climbs stairs carrying a large bag on her shoulder. An Art Deco cartoon figure appears, dancing. This is a world in motion, dominated by mechanical and repetitive images, with a few moments of solitude in a garden.

Battleship Potemkin 1925

75
Silent
Soviet Union

Based on actual events that occurred at the port of Odessa in 1905, the crew of the battleship Potemkin mutiny after yet again being served rotten food. At the time, there was growing opposition to Imperialist rule and a mini revolution was soon underway. The revolt was harshly put down by government troops with the shooting of civilians - including women and children - on the Odessa Steps.

Battling Butler 1926

77
Silent
USA

Alfred's father wants him to make of a man of himself so sends him off on a hunting and fishing trip. He doesn't catch or shoot anything, but he does fall in love with a mountain girl. When her father and brothers laugh at this they are informed that he is Alfred "Battling" Butler, the championship fighter. From there on the masquerade must be maintained.

Berlin: Symphony of a Great City 1927

65
Silent
Germany

A train speeds through the country on its way to Berlin, then gradually slows down as it pulls into the station. It is very early in the morning, about 5:00 AM, and the great city is mostly quiet. But before long there are some signs of activity, and a few early risers are to be seen on the streets. Soon the new day is well underway - it's just a typical day in Berlin, but a day full of life and energy.

Blood and Sand 1922

80
Silent
USA

Juan is the son of a poor widow in Seville. Against his mother's wishes he pursues a career as toreador. He rapidly gains national prominence, and takes his childhood sweetheart Carmen as his bride. He meets the Marquis' daughter Dona Sol, and finds himself in the awkward position of being in love with two women, which threatens the stability of his family and his position in society. He finds interesting parallels in the life of the infamous bandit Plumitas when they eventually meet by chance.

Body and Soul 1925

102
Silent
USA

A minister is malevolent and sinister behind his righteous facade. He consorts with, and later extorts from, the owner of a gambling house, and betrays an honest girl, eventually driving them both to ruin.

College 1927

66
Silent
USA

To reconcile with his girlfriend, a bookish college student tries to become an athlete.

Cops 1922

18
Silent
USA

Through a series of mistaken identities Buster winds up with a load of furniture in the middle of parade of policemen. An anarchist's bomb lands in his carriage. After lighting his cigarette with it, he tosses it into the ranks of police. When it explodes the police chase him all over town.

Destiny 1921

105
Silent
Germany

When a woman's fiancé disappears, Death gives her three chances to save him from his fate.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1920

49
Silent
USA

Dr. Henry Jekyll experiments with scientific means of revealing the hidden, dark side of man and releases a murderer from within himself.

Emak-Bakia 1927

18
Silent
France

Emak-Bakia shows elements of fluid mechanical motion in parts, rotating artifacts showing Ray's ideas of everyday objects being extended and rendered useless.

Entr’acte 1924

22
Silent
France

An absolute surrealistic movie. Somebody gets killed, his coffin gets out of control and after a surrelistic chase it stops. The person gets out of it and let everybody who followed the coffin disapear.

Faust 1926

116
Silent
Germany

The demon Mephisto wagers with God that he can corrupt a mortal man's soul.

Filmstudie 1926

7
Silent
Germany

Entertaining Dadaist experimental short, similar to Man Ray's work, full of shifting geometric shapes, stock footage of seagulls, flying eyeballs, and glaring floating heads.

Foolish Wives 1922

117
Silent
USA

Count Karanzim, a Don Juan is with his cousins in Monte Carlo, living from faked money and the money he gets from rich ladies, who are attracted by his charmes and his title or his militaristic and aristocratic behaviour. He tries to have success with Mrs Hughes, the wife of the new US ambassador.

For Heaven’s Sake 1926

58
Silent
USA

The Uptown Boy, J. Harold Manners (Lloyd) is a millionaire playboy who falls for the Downtown Girl, Hope (Ralston) who works in Brother Paul's (Weigel) mission. In order to build up attendance, and win Hope's attention, Harold runs through town causing trouble, and winds up with a crowd chasing him right into the mission. He eventually wins the girl and they marry, but not without some interference from his high-brow friends.

Girl Shy 1924

80
Silent
USA

Harold Meadows (Lloyd) is a shy, stuttering bachelor working in a tailor shop, who is writing a guide book for other bashful young men, "The Secret of Making Love," chapters from which are portrayed as fantasy sequences. Fate has him meet rich girl, Mary (Ralston), and they fall in love. But she is about to wed an already married man, so our hero embarks upon a hair-raising daredevil ride to prevent the wedding.

Go West 1925

68
Silent
USA

With little luck at keeping a job in the city a New Yorker tries work in the country and eventually finds his way leading a herd of cattle to the West Coast.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923

133
Silent
USA

In fifteenth century Paris, Jehan, the evil brother of the archdeacon, plots with the gypsy king to foment a peasant revolt, which eventually leads to the peasants storming the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Meanwhile, Jehan's slave, a freakish hunchback named Quasimodo, falls in love with the young gypsy queen, Esmeralda, who in turn is in love with Phoebus, a gentleman soldier and a rogue with the ladies. Phoebus's gallant side is awakened by the beautiful peasant girl, and he soon returns her love. Unknown to him, his love is dangerous, because Jehan lusts for Esmeralda and is willing to kill the handsome soldier to possess her. But the hunchback will tolerate no harm coming to her, not even if it comes from his own master.

La souriante Madame Beudet 1921

54
Silent
France

One of the first feminist movies, The Smiling Madame Beudet is the story of an intelligent woman trapped in a loveless marriage. Her husband is used to playing a stupid practical joke in which he puts an empty revolver to his head and threatens to shoot himself. One day, while the husband is away, she puts bullets in the revolver.

Lady Windermere’s Fan 1925

89
Silent
USA

A society woman believes her husband is having an affair, a misconception which may have dire personal consequences for all involved.

L'étoile de mer 1928

21
Silent
France

The film is based on a script by Robert Desnos and depicts a couple (Alice Prin and André de la Rivière) acting through scenes that are shot out of focus.

Man With the Movie Camera 1929

68
Silent
Soviet Union

A man travels around a city with a camera slung over his shoulder, documenting urban life with a dazzling invention.

Ménilmontant 1926

38
Silent
France

A couple is brutally murdered in the working-class district of Paris. Later on, the narrative follows the lives of their two daughters, both in love with a Parisian thug and leading them to separate ways.

Metropolis 1927

153
Silent
Germany

In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city's mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences.

Michael 1924

86
Silent
Germany

Mikaël is an artist who rises as his teacher, the aging Zoret, falls. Then Mikaël takes up with the Princess Zamikoff, selling gifts from Zoret and even stealing from the master to pay for his carnal and luxurious life with her. He abandons Zoret, whose health begins to fail but who also discovers spirituality in his solitude.

Mighty Like a Moose 1926

22
Silent
USA

Mr. and Mrs. Moose are not pretty. But after he has his teeth fixed and she has her nose done they look great. They meet by accident and don't recognize each other. They make plans for an illicit rendezvous, both nervous about stepping out on their spouses, but happy to feel attractive for the first time. The only problem: how to keep the spouse from finding out.

Mother 1926

89
Silent
Soviet Union

Russian director Vsevolod I. Pudovkin's "Mother" is the chronicle of an individual's transformation from political naivete to Marxist awareness set during the 1905 Russian Revolution. Pudovkin uses innovative montage techniques and camera angles to tell this bold story of national unrest through the eyes of a working class woman.

Nanook of the North 1922

78
Silent
USA / France

Documents one year in the life of Nanook, an Eskimo (Inuit), and his family. Describes the trading, hunting, fishing and migrations of a group barely touched by industrial technology. Nanook of the North was widely shown and praised as the first full-length, anthropological documentary in cinematographic history.

Neighbors 1920

18
Silent
USA

A young couple who live next to each other in tenement apartments do everything they can to be together despite of their feuding families.

Nosferatu 1922

94
Silent
Germany

Vampire Count Orlok expresses interest in a new residence and real estate agent Hutter's wife.

One Week 1920

25
Silent
USA

Buster and Sybil exit a chapel as newlyweds. Among the gifts is a portable house you easily put together in one week. It doesn't help that Buster's rival for Sybil switches the numbers on the crates containing the house parts.

Orphans of the Storm 1921

150
Silent
USA

Two orphaned sisters are caught up in the turmoil of the French Revolution, encountering misery and love along the way.

Our Hospitality 1923

73
Silent
USA

In the Nineteenth Century, there is a feud between the McKay and Canfield families in the country of the United States of America. When John McKay is killed, his wife sends their one years old baby Willie to New York to be raised by her sister. Twenty years later, Willie McKay (Buster Keaton) returns to claim for his family state. Along the train travels, he meets a young lady and they fall in love for each other. However, she is the youngest Canfield and her family has not forgotten the quarrel against the McKays.

Pandora’s Box 1929

133
Silent
Germany

G.W. Pabst's film that catapulted Louise Brooks to international acclaim and made her 'the' icon of the Jazz Age tells the tragic story of Lulu, the hedonistic dancer and prostitute. Based on the plays of F. Wedekind.

Rain 1929

14
Silent
Netherlands

Rain was one of the founding voices of avant-garde documentary, and perhaps the fullest realization of the filmic tradition of City Symphony.

Robin Hood 1922

117
Silent
USA

A nobleman becomes the vigilante Robin Hood who protects the oppressed English people from the tyrannical Prince John.

Romance of a Fruit Peddler 1922

30
Silent
China

Cheng the fruit seller is in love with the daughter of his neighbor the doctor, but the good doctor won't let him marry her unless Chang finds him more patients. With some creative carpentering, Chang sets about augmenting the doctor's income.

Safety Last! 1923

70
Silent
USA

When a store clerk organizes a publicity stunt, in which a friend climbs the outside of a tall building, circumstances force him to make the perilous climb himself.

Serpent 1925

74
Silent
Japan

The story of a decent samurai who is widely considered a scum and a criminal. His bad luck and numerous misunderstandings drag him down the social ladder straight to the gutter.

Sherlock Junior 1924

45
Silent
USA

A film projectionist longs to be a detective, and puts his meagre skills to work when he is framed by a rival for stealing his girlfriend's father's pocketwatch.

Sparrows 1926

84
Silent
USA

Molly, the eldest child at a baby farm hidden deep in a swamp, must rescue the others when their cruel master decides that one of them will be disposed of.

Steamboat Bill, Jr. 1928

70
Silent
USA

Following through on a promise to his mother, William Canning Jr. goes to River Junction to meet his father who has not seen him since he was a child. The younger Canning isn't quite what the elder was expecting but the old man has bigger problems. He's being put out of business by J.J. King, who not only owns the local hotel and bank, but has recently introduced a new paddle wheel steamer that puts Cannings older boat, the Stonewall Jackson, to shame. Bill Jr. and Kitty King take a liking to each other much to the dismay of both of their fathers. When a fierce storm hits River Junction, Bill Jr. is forced to save Kitty, her father and his father.

Storm Over Asia 1928

82
Silent
Soviet Union

In 1918 a simple Mongolian herdsman escapes to the hills after brawling with a western capitalist fur trader who cheats him. In 1920 he helps the partisans fight for the Soviets against the occupying army. However he is captured when the army tries to requisition cattle from the herdsmen at the same time as the commandant meets with the reincarnated Grand Lama. After being shot, the army discovers an amulet that suggests he was a direct descendant of Genghis Khan. They find him still alive, so the army restores his health and plans to use him as the head of a Mongolian puppet regime.

Strike 1925

82
Silent
Soviet Union

Laborers at a locomotive factory go on strike to protest harsh working conditions. Management rejects their demands and decides to break the strike by any means necessary.

Sunrise 1927

Silent
USA

A married farmer falls under the spell of a slatternly woman from the city, who tries to convince him to drown his wife.

Symphonie diagonale 1924

5
Silent
Germany

This short film is a visual rather than musical symphony. A cacophony of animated geometric figures appear in succession, much like a musical piece where idioms or themes emerge. All the figures have in common that they are oriented either approximately minus thirty degrees from the horizontal plane or approximately plus thirty degrees from the horizontal plane.

Tartüff 1925

74
Silent
Germany

Young man shows his millionaire grandfather a film based on Molière's Tartuffe, in order to expose the old man's hypocritical governess who covets his own inheritance.

The Balloonatic 1923

22
Silent
USA

A hapless amusement park attendant finds his run away balloon ride has left him in a strange predicament.

The Black Pirate 1926

88
Silent
USA

A nobleman vows to avenge the death of his father at the hands of pirates. To this end he infiltrates the pirate band. Acting in character he is instrumental in the capture of a ship, but things are complicated when he finds that there is a young woman on board whom he wishes to protect from the threat of rape.

The Boat 1921

23
Silent
USA

Buster and his family go on a voyage on his homemade boat that proves to be one disaster after another.

The Burning Soil 1922

110
Silent
Germany

The film follows the story of a struggle over a plot of petroleum-rich land.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 1920

78
Silent
Germany

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (German: Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari) is a 1920 German silent horror film, directed by Robert Wiene and written by Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer. Considered the quintessential work of German Expressionist cinema, it tells the story of an insane hypnotist (Werner Krauss) who uses a somnambulist (Conrad Veidt) to commit murders.

The Covered Wagon 1923

98
Silent
USA

Two wagon caravans converge at what is now Kansas City, and combine for the westward push to Oregon. On their quest the pilgrims will experience desert heat, mountain snow, hunger, and indian attack. To complicate matters further, a love triangle develops, as pretty Molly must chose between Sam, a brute, and Will, the dashing captain of the other caravan. Can Will overcome the skeleton in his closet and win Molly's heart?

The Diary of a Lost Girl 1929

104
Silent
Germany

Thymiane Henning, an innocent young girl, is raped by the clerk of her father's pharmacy. She becomes pregnant, is rejected by her family, and must fend for herself in a harsh, cruel world.

The Docks of New York 1928

76
Silent
USA

A blue-collar worker on New York's depressed waterfront finds his life changed after he saves a woman attempting suicide.

The Electric House 1922

22
Silent
USA

Botany major Buster mistakenly graduates in electrical engineering and is hired to wire a new home. He installs lots of fanciful gadgets. The one who should have received the degree gets even by rewiring all the gadgets to wreak havoc.

The End of St. Petersburg 1927

85
Silent
Soviet Union

A peasant comes to St. Petersburg to find work. He unwittingly helps in the arrest of an old village friend who is now a labor leader. The unemployed peasant is also arrested and sent to fight in World War I. After three years, he returns ready for revolution.

The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks 1924

94
Silent
Soviet Union

The film chronicles the adventures of an American, "Mr. West," and his faithful bodyguard and servant Jeddie, as they visit the land of the horrible, evil Bolsheviks. Through various mishaps, Mr. West discovers that the Soviets are actually quite remarkable people, and, by the end of the film, his opinion of them has changed to one of glowing admiration!

The Fall of the House of Usher 1928

13
Silent
USA

A traveller arrives at the Usher mansion to find that the sibling inhabitants, Roderick and Madeline Usher, are living under a mysterious family curse: Roderick's senses have become painfully acute, while Madeline has become nearly catatonic. As the visitor's stay at the mansion continues, the effects of the curse reach their terrifying climax.

The Finishing Touch 1928

19
Silent
USA

The boys are contracted to build a house in one day. Upon completion, a bird lands on the chimney and the house collapses, bit by bit. When the owner demands his money back, mayhem ensues.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse 1921

132
Silent
USA

An extended family split up in France and Germany find themselves on opposing sides of the battlefield during World War I.

The Freshman 1925

76
Silent
USA

Harold Lamb is so excited about going to college that he has been working to earn spending money, practicing college yells, and learning a special way of introducing himself that he saw in a movie. When he arrives at Tate University, he soon becomes the target of practical jokes and ridicule. With the help of his one real friend Peggy, he resolves to make every possible effort to become popular.

The General 1926

67
Silent
USA

The General is a silent comedy-adventure film, co-directed and starring Buster Keaton. It is one of Keaton’s classics and most admired films, made in the late days of the silent era. Union spies steal an engineman’s locomotive and he pursues it all by himself, right through enemy lines.

The Joyless Street 1925

125
Silent
Germany

The film follows the lives of two women from the same poor neighborhood, as they try to better themselves during the period of Austrian postwar hyperinflation. They are Marie, who becomes a prostitute, and Grete, who at the last moment, is saved from that fate.

The Last Command 1928

88
Silent
USA

A decorated, aristocratic Czarist General is reduced to penury after the collapse of Imperial Russia. An old adversary, now a successful director hires the general to re-enact the revolution which deposed him.

The Last Laugh 1924

77
Silent
Germany

An aging doorman, after being fired from his prestigious job at a luxurious Hotel is forced to face the scorn of his friends, neighbours and society.

The Last of the Mohicans 1920

73
Silent
USA

As Alice and Cora Munro attempt to find their father, a British officer in the French and Indian War, they are set upon by French soldiers and their cohorts, Huron tribesmen led by the evil Magua. Fighting to rescue the women are Chingachgook and his son Uncas, the last of the Mohican tribe, and their white ally, the frontiersman Natty Bumppo, known as Hawkeye.

The Life and Death of 9413, a Hollywood Extra 1928

11
Silent
USA

This short experimental film tells the story of a man who comes to Hollywood to become a star, only to fail and be dehumanized (he is identified by the number 9314 written on his forehead), after which he dies and goes on to Heaven where the number is removed.

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog 1927

Silent
UK

A serial killer known as "The Avenger" is on the loose in London, murdering blonde women. A mysterious man arrives at the house of Mr. and Mrs. Bunting looking for a room to rent. The Bunting's daughter is a blonde model and is seeing one of the detectives assigned to the case. The detective becomes jealous of the lodger and begins to suspect he may be the avenger.

The Lost World 1925

106
Silent
USA

This silent adventure movie is the first cinematic adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Lost World”. Challenger, an explorer professor claims that dinosaurs exist far away in the Amazon. A group of researchers and reporters is gathered to find out whether the legend is true and indeed, they discover a long lost world.

The Man Who Laughs 1928

110
Silent
USA

When a proud noble refuses to kiss the hand of the despotic King James in 1690, he is cruelly executed and his son surgically disfigured.

The Navigator 1924

59
Silent
USA

Rollo decides to marry his sweetheart Betsy and sail to Honolulu. When she rejects him he decides to go alone but boards the wrong ship, the "Navigator" owned by Betsy's father. Unaware of this, Betsy boards the ship to look for her father. whom spies capture before cutting the ship loose. It drifts out to sea with the two socialites each unaware of there being anyone else on board.

The Penalty 1920

90
Silent
USA

Blizzard, deranged from a childhood operation in which both his legs were perhaps needlessly amputated after an accident, becomes a vicious criminal, and eventually mob leader of the San Francisco underworld. Out for revenge against the surgeon who performed his operation, he undergoes brain surgery which has a chance of altering his anti-social behavior.

The Playhouse 1921

23
Silent
USA

After waking up from his wacky dream, a theater stage hand inadvertently causes havoc everywhere he works.

The Return to Reason 1923

3
Silent
France

Experimental film, white specks and shapes gyrating over a black background, a light-striped torso, a gyrating egg crate. One of the first Dadaist films.

The Sheik 1921

86
Silent
USA

Sheik Ahmed (Valentino) desperately desires fiesty British socialite Diana (Ayres), so he abducts her and carries her off to his luxurious desert tent-palace. The free-spirited Diana recoils from his passionate embraces and yearns to be released. Only after being kidnapped by desert bandits does Diana realize how much she has grown to love Ahmed, who comes to her rescue in the nick of time.

The Thief of Bagdad 1924

155
Silent
USA

A thief falls in love with the Caliph of Bagdad's daughter. The Caliph will give her hand to the suitor that brings back the rarest treasure after seven moons. The thief sets off on a magical journey while, unbeknownst to him, another suitor, the Prince of the Mongols, is not playing by the rules...

The Three Must-Get-Theres 1922

58
Silent
USA

The film follows the plot of the novel by Alexandre Dumas. It is also meant as a parody of the previously released 1921 film The Three Musketeers, starring Douglas Fairbanks.

The Toll of the Sea 1922

54
Silent
USA

When young Lotus Flower sees an unconscious man floating in the water near the seashore, she quickly gets help for him. The man is Allen Carver, an American visiting China. Soon the two have fallen in love, and Carver promises to take her with him when he returns home. But Carver's friends discourage him from doing this, and he returns to the USA alone. By the time the two of them meet again, much has changed, and their reunion proves very trying for them both.

Tokyo March 1929

29
Silent
Japan

A classic melodramatic love tragedy addressing social inequality in feudal Japan, depicted in Kenji Mizoguchi's typical style. The nostalgic scenes of 1920s Tokyo provides a valuable visual experience set against the background of the title song, "Tokyo March."

Tumbleweeds 1925

78
Silent
USA

Set in Caldwell, Kansas on the Kansas-Oklahoma border, the movie features cowboy Don Carver (Hart) as a "tumbleweed" (i.e., a drifter) who decides to settle down after falling in love with Molly Lassiter (Barbara Bedford). Carver decides to get in on the Cherokee Strip land rush but when he's arrested and parted from his new love, he's in danger of missing the big race.

Underworld 1927

80
Silent
USA

Boisterous gangster kingpin Bull Weed rehabilitates his former lawyer from his alcoholic haze, but complications arise when he falls for Weed's girlfriend.

Waxworks 1924

65
Silent
Germany

A poet is hired by the owner of a wax museum in a circus to write tales about Harun al Raschid, Ivan the Terrible and Jack the Ripper. While writing, the poet and the daughter of the owner, Eva, fantasize the fantastic stories and fall in love for each other.

Way Down East 1920

145
Silent
USA

A naive country girl is tricked into a sham marriage by a wealthy womanizer, then must rebuild her life despite the taint of having borne a child out of wedlock.

Within Our Gates 1920

79
Silent
USA

Abandoned by her fiancé, an educated black woman with a shocking past dedicates herself to helping a near bankrupt school for impoverished black youths.