Menu Close

Best Silent Movies: Top 30+1 and Top 101 Films of the Silent Era

Welcome to the Cinema of Silence

So you are one of those keen movie watchers, who like to travel back in time to experience the glamour of earlier cinematic eras. So are we!

The Silent Era may be a thing of the distant past, but thanks to an enthralling, good old invention called Film, it will never be really gone.

Whenever you feel like traveling back in time to relive the glamours of the era, all you have to do, is to watch one (or more) of its movies.

But which ones should you watch?
Well, if that’s the very question lurking in your mind right now, then you came to the right place. We’re just about to present 30+1 of the greatest cinematic gems of the Silent Era.

However, if you’re not a first-timer, then there’s a fair chance you already saw most movies of this Top 30+1 List, and you may want to dive a little bit deeper. No worries!

In that case, you should go and check out the Top 100+1 List at the end of this article.

If this is your first ride on the time-travelling FrameTrek Wagon, here’s what this is all about:

We choose a topic, in this case: “Best Silent Films”, and we set sail for a journey, where the bricks of the trek are made of movie frames, and each stop represents a magnificent achievement in Film.

The Best Movies of the Silent Era is an episode of FrameTrek’s Best Movies of All Time. A mega-journey dedicated to identify the greatest films of cinematic era, chronologically. It starts with the Dawn of Cinema and goes all the way to our ever moving present.


So what was Cinema like in the Silent Era?

Films were nothing but a series of pictures on a reel back then, without the now indispensable recorded sound.

Was that a bad thing? Not necessarily. The lack of words increased the emphasis on a well-designed visual experience, where communication was primarily based on body language, gestures and mime.

How did they tell stories without words?

Well, they did use words here and there, but only in their written form. Inter-title cards were used to explain the more complex parts of the story, and to enhance the experience, sometimes a person would even narrate them for the audience.

Furthermore, the lack of recorded sound doesn’t mean that people were sitting around in total silence, while watching a silent film.

The onscreen events were emphasized by live background music usually played by an orchestra, and their performance was actually an essential part of the viewing experience.

What period are we actually talking about?

The Silent Era spans from the dawn of Cinema, all the way to 1936, the year in which the last silent movie, Chaplin‘s Modern Times was released.

The arrival of talkies in 1927 shook the foundations of Silent Cinema, so the following years (between 1927 and 1936) offered a mix of both silent and talking pictures, although the former was taken over quickly and brutally by the latter.

If you’d like to explore the Silent Era one decade at a time, then you still came to the right place, as we have separate articles discussing the best movies of each of its decades:

If you’re still here, then you want to explore the Silent Era in its integrity. Nice! Let’s cut to the chase by identifying the best silent films ever made.

After all, a cinematic era is as good as its greatest achievements. Thus, the finest way to explore an era in film history, is through watching its finest films as a marathon.

Ready? Buckle up then, and let the best silent films carry you to the Cinematic era they came from!

See FrameTrek's definition of 'Best' and the story behind this List (click to expand) ↴

How to define ‘Best’?

That’s a pretty good question, since ‘Best’ is relative. A movie can be considered being among the best for multiple reasons, such as: Critical Acclaim, Audience Feedback, Box Office Performance, Awards and Nominations, Iconic Status, Popularity, Watchability, and even Personal Preference, or for being part of a famous list such as the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die or Roger Ebert’s The Great Movies list – or because that particular movie defined its era.

So how did we pick the Top 30+1 and Top 101 Silent Films?

Well, it wasn’t simple, and it wasn’t easy! While composing the Best Films of the Silent Era list, we tried to consider all of the factors mentioned in the ‘How to define Best’ paragraph, and then some.

We believe that the movies that made the cut should not compete with one another any further, so we will just present them in the order they were released in.

We’ll start with a detailed presentation of the Top 30+1 Silent Films, then, at the end of the article, we will reveal the Top 101 Movies of the Silent Era, just so you can dig deeper if you want.



Revealing the Top 30+1 Movies of the Silent Era

A chronological presentation of the Best Silent Films
The ‘+1’ is a Bonus Movie. Wait for it!


A Trip to the Moon (1902)

Le voyage dans la lune (original French title)

 A Trip to the Moon 1902, Georges Méliès, Best Films of the Silent Era
Where to Watch?   More info

French adventure fantasy film directed by and starring Georges Méliès.

Story: A group of astronomers build a giant cannon that can shoot a capsule full of men directly to the moon. It’s important to keep in mind, that this story comes from a time, when landing on the moon was only a dream for fools.

The story is loosely inspired by Jules Verne‘s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon. Would you like to read the book?

Why is A Trip to the Moon among the best silent films?
✓ Its unusual length, lavish production values, innovative special effects, and emphasis on storytelling were markedly influential on other film-makers and ultimately on the development of narrative film as a whole.
✓ It is widely regarded as the earliest example of the science fiction film genre and, more generally, as one of the most influential films in cinema history.
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die


The Birth of a Nation (1915)

The Birth of a Nation 1915, D. W. Griffith, Lillian Gish, Best Silent Movies
Where to Watch?   More info

American epic historical drama film directed and co-produced by D. W. Griffith and starring Lillian Gish.

The story takes place during the American Civil War. It is based on the groundbreaking historical novel The Clansman: A Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan, first published in 1905, written by american author Thomas F. Dixon Jr. Would you like to read the book?

Racial depictions aside, The Birth of a Nation is a landmark film whose achievements and pioneering techniques remain fully relevant today.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is The Birth of a Nation among the best movies of the Silent Era?
✓ It’s one of the most controversial movies of all time, due to its racist overtones and for being responsible for the revival of the long-dead Ku Klux Klan.
✓ It pioneered close-ups, fade-outs, and a carefully staged battle sequence with hundreds of extras made to look like thousands.
✓ The earliest feature-length film among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, and it’s also on Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.


Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Throughout the Ages (1916)

Intolerance 1916, D. W. Griffith, Lillian Gish, Best Movies of the Silent Era
Where to Watch?   More info

American epic historical drama film directed by D. W. Griffith and starring Lillian Gish.

The movie tells four parallel stories of intolerance in four different historical eras. These stories revolve around a mountain girl of ancient Babylon, Jesus Christ, two Huguenots in 1572 and a young couple in modern America.

A pioneering classic and one of the most influential films ever made, D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance stands as the crowning jewel in an incredible filmography.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Intolerance among the best silent movies?
✓ Regarded as one of the great masterpieces of the Silent Era, that strongly influenced European film movements.
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, and selected by the Vatican in the “values” category of its list of 45 “great films”.
✓ It was one of the first films to be selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”


Broken Blossoms (1919)

Broken Blossoms 1919, D. W. Griffith, Lillian Gish, Best Silent Films
Where to Watch?   More info

American drama romance film directed by D. W. Griffith and starring Lillian Gish.

It is based on the romantic short story The Chink and the Child written by British author Thomas Burke, in his collection of Chinatown tales, entitled Limehouse Nights, first published in 1916. Would you like to read the book?

The heartbreaking story of a waterfront waif from the Limehouse district of London who escapes the abuse of her father through a doomed relationship with a Chinese immigrant. (Amazon)

Thought-provoking and beautifully filmed, D.W. Griffith’s Broken Blossoms presents a master at the top of his form.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Broken Blossoms among the best films of the Silent Era?
✓ Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.


The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 1920, Robert Wiene, Best Films of the Silent Era
Where to Watch?   More info

German horror fantasy film directed by Robert Wiene, starring Conrad Veidt and Werner Krauss.

Arguably the first true horror film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari set a brilliantly high bar for the genre – and remains terrifying even a century after it first stalked the screen.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari among the best silent films?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s The Great Movies list.
✓ Modern film critics and historians have largely praised it as a revolutionary classic, calling it the cinema’s first cult film and a precursor for arthouse films.



The Kid (1921)

The Kid 1921, Charlie Chaplin, Best Silent Movies
Where to Watch?   More info

American comedy-drama film written, produced, directed by, and starring Charlie Chaplin.

Story: The Tramp cares for an abandoned child, but events put that relationship in jeopardy. (IMDB)

Charles Chaplin’ irascible Tramp is given able support from Jackie Coogan as The Kid in this slapstick masterpiece, balancing the guffaws with moments of disarming poignancy.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is The Kid among the best movies of the Silent Era?
✓ The Library of Congress selected The Kid for preservation in the National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
✓ Innovative in its combination of comedic and dramatic elements, it is widely considered one of the greatest films of the Silent Era.


The Phantom Carriage (1921)

The Phantom Carriage 1921, Victor Sjöström, Best Movies of the Silent Era
Where to Watch?   More info

Swedish fantasy horror film directed by Victor Sjöström.

Story: The last person to die on New Year’s Eve before the clock strikes twelve is doomed to take the reins of Death’s chariot and work tirelessly collecting fresh souls for the next year. It looks like David Holm, an alcoholic, abusive ne’er-do-well will become that person.

Why is The Phantom Carriage among the best silent movies?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ Generally considered to be one of the central works in the history of Swedish cinema.
✓ Notable for its special effects, its advanced (for the time) narrative structure with flashbacks within flashbacks, and for having been a major influence on the works of Ingmar Bergman.


Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror (1922)

Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (original German title)

Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror 1922, F. W. Murnau, Max Schreck, Best Silent Films
Where to Watch?   More info

German Expressionist fantasy horror film directed by F. W. Murnau and starring Max Schreck.

The movie is an unauthorized adaptation of the classic gothic horror novel Dracula, first published in 1897, written by Irish author Bram Stoker. Would you like to read the book?

One of the silent era’s most influential masterpieces, Nosferatu‘s eerie, gothic feel – and a chilling performance from Max Schreck as the vampire – set the template for the horror films that followed.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror among the best films of the Silent Era?
✓ It is selected by the Vatican in the “art” category of its list of 45 “great films”.
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ The first true vampire movie ever made.


Safety Last! (1923)

Safety Last! 1923, Harold Lloyd, Best Films of the Silent Era
Where to Watch?   More info

American slapstick comedy film starring Harold Lloyd.

Story: Lloyd, the store clerk talks his manager into offering $1000 for a publicity stunt, in which a man called “human fly” would climb the face of the 12-storey store building, thus bringing customers nearby.

Persuasive enough to give audiences acrophobia when they aren’t laughing at Harold Lloyd’s antics, Safety Last! is a marvel of visual effects and slapstick comedy.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Safety Last! among the best silent films?
✓ The Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
✓ It features one of the most memorable scenes of the Silent Era (Lloyd hanging from the hour hand).
✓ Included in Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.


Our Hospitality (1923)

Our Hospitality 1923, Buster Keaton, Best Silent Films
Where to Watch?   More info

American slapstick comedy film co-directed by and starring Buster Keaton.

Story: Buster falls in love with a girl on the train to his hometown and accepts her dinner invitation, only to find out that her family has vowed to kill every member of his family.

Why is Our Hospitality among the best movies of the Silent Era?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ It was a groundbreaking work for the comedy film genre, as Keaton included “careful integration of gags into a dramatically coherent storyline”, “meticulous attention to period detail” and “beautiful cinematography and extensive location shooting”.



The Thief of Bagdad (1924)

The Thief of Bagdad 1924, Douglas Fairbanks, Best Silent Movies
Where to Watch?   More info

American swashbuckler adventure fantasy film starring Douglas Fairbanks.

Story: A recalcitrant thief vies with a duplicitous Mongol ruler for the hand of a beautiful princess. (IMDB)

It requires some viewing commitment, but this beautifully assembled showcase for Douglas Fairbanks’ acting offers some splendid treats for classic film fans.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is The Thief of Bagdad among the best movies of the Silent Era?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
✓ Widely considered one of the greatest silent films and Fairbanks’s greatest work.


Sherlock Jr. (1924)

Sherlock Jr. 1924, Buster Keaton, Best Movies of the Silent Era
Where to Watch?   More info

American slapstick comedy film directed by and starring Buster Keaton.

Buster Keaton stars as a movie theater projectionist who dreams of becoming a super-sleuth and, in one breathtaking sequence, literally steps into the screen to bring his fantasies to life. (Amazon)

Why is Sherlock Jr. among the best silent movies?
✓ The Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
✓ It is included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and it is also in the American Film Institute’s list of the Top 100 Funniest American Movies.


The Last Laugh (1924)

The Last Laugh 1924, F. W. Murnau, Emil Jannings, Best Silent Films
Where to Watch?   More info

German drama film directed by F. W. Murnau and starring Emil Jannings.

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

Why is The Last Laugh among the best films of the Silent Era?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ The film was a major critical and financial success, critics praised the film’s style and artistic camera movements.
✓ For the first time in film history, the camera moves together with the actors through the room, setting a new benchmark in movie-making technique.


Greed (1924)

Greed 1924, Erich von Stroheim, Best Films of the Silent Era
Where to Watch?   More info

American dramatic thriller film directed by Erich von Stroheim.

Powerful even in its incomplete form, Erich von Stroheim’s Greed is a spoil of cinematic riches and a harrowing treatise on the corrupting allure of money.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Greed among the best silent films?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ Regarded as one of the greatest films ever made; filmmakers and scholars have noted its influence on subsequent films.


The Gold Rush (1925)

The Gold Rush 1925, Charlie Chaplin, Best Silent Movies
Where to Watch?   More info

American slapstick comedy adventure film written by, produced by, directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin.

Story: A prospector goes to the Klondike in search of gold and finds it and more. (IMDB)

A delightful blend of slapstick humor, poignant emotion, and social commentary, The Gold Rush encapsulates Chaplin’s strengths as a writer, director, and star.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is The Gold Rush among the best movies of the Silent Era?
✓ Included among the American Film Institute’s 1998 list of the Top 100 Greatest American Movies and the 2000 list of the Top 100 Funniest American Movies.
✓ It is included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ One of Chaplin’s most celebrated works, and he himself declared several times that it was the film for which he most wanted to be remembered.



Battleship Potemkin (1925)

Battleship Potemkin 1925, Sergei M. Eisenstein, Best Movies of the Silent Era
Where to Watch?   More info

Soviet historical drama film directed by Sergei M. Eisenstein.

Story: Based on the historical events of 1905 Russia, this is the story of a mutiny that had its roots on the Battleship Potemkin, but ignited a citywide revolution in Odessa. This resulted in the massacre of civilians, including women and children.

A technical masterpiece, Battleship Potemkin is Soviet cinema at its finest, and its montage editing techniques remain influential to this day.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Battleship Potemkin among the best silent movies?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ The film was chosen by Premiere magazine as one of the “100 Movies That Shook the World” in the 1998 issue. The list ranked the most “daring movies ever made”.
✓ Named the greatest film of all time at the Brussels World’s Fair in 1958, and in 2012, the British Film Institute named it the eleventh greatest film of all time.


The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

The Phantom of the Opera 1925, Lon Chaney, Best Silent Films
Where to Watch?   More info

American dramatic horror film starring Lon Chaney.

Story: A mad, disfigured composer seeks love with a lovely young opera singer. (IMDB)

A century later, it still retains its ability to scare – and Lon Chaney’s performance remains one of the benchmarks of the horror genre.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is The Phantom of the Opera among the best films of the Silent Era?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ Added to the United States National Film Registry, having been deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant”.


The General (1926)

The General 1926, Buster Keaton, Best Silent Movies
Where to Watch?   More info

American slapstick comedy film co-directed by and starring Buster Keaton.

Story: When Union spies steal an engineer’s beloved locomotive during the American Civil War, he embarks on a lone-wolf rescue mission that takes him behind enemy lines.

Brilliantly filmed and fueled with classic physical comedy, The General captures Buster Keaton at his timeless best.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is The General among the best movies of the Silent Era?
✓ It is included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ Selected into the National Film Registry in 1989 for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
✓ In 2007 the American Film Institute ranked this as the #18 Greatest Movie of All Time.


Faust (1926)

Faust 1926, F. W. Murnau, Best Movies of the Silent Era
Where to Watch?   More info

German fantasy horror film directed by F. W. Murnau.

Story: The demon Mephisto wagers with God that he can corrupt a mortal man’s soul. (IMDB)

Why is Faust among the best silent movies?
✓ Featured in Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ Perfectly captures the intensity of a medieval universe steeped in religious fanaticism and pagan alchemy.
✓ Widely considered to be an influential classic, and one of the best horror films of all time.


Metropolis (1927)

Metropolis 1927, Fritz Lang, Best Silent Films
Where to Watch?   More info

German expressionist science-fiction drama film directed by Fritz Lang.

The story is based on the classic sci-fi novel of the same title, first published in 1925, written by Fritz Lang’s wife Thea von Harbou. Would you like to read the book?

Story: Set in 2026, Metropolis is a city where an underground community of overworked labourers run the machinery that maintains the existence of the Utopian world above ground.

A visually awe-inspiring science fiction classic from the silent era.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Metropolis among the best films of the Silent Era?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ Chosen by Premiere magazine as one of the “100 Movies That Shook the World” and selected by the Vatican in the “art” category of its list of 45 “great films”.
✓ Considered to be the world’s first feature-length science fiction movie.



Sunrise (1927)

Sunrise 1927, F. W. Murnau, Best Films of the Silent Era
Where to Watch?   More info

American romantic drama film directed by German director F. W. Murnau.

Story: An allegorical tale about a man fighting the good and evil within him. Both sides are made flesh – one a sophisticated woman he is attracted to and the other his wife. (IMDB)

Boasting masterful cinematography to match its well-acted, wonderfully romantic storyline, Sunrise is perhaps the final – and arguably definitive – statement of the silent era.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Sunrise among the best silent films?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ Winner of 3 Oscars, including the “Best Picture of the Year” Academy Award.
✓ In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #82 Greatest Movie of All Time.


Wings (1927)

Wings 1927, Best Silent Movies
Where to Watch?   More info

American romantic action-war film set during the First World War

Story: Two young men, one rich, one middle class, who are in love with the same woman, become fighter pilots in World War I. (IMDB)

Subsequent war epics may have borrowed heavily from the original Best Picture winner, but they’ve all lacked Clara Bow’s luminous screen presence and William Wellman’s deft direction.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Wings among the best movies of the Silent Era?
✓ Winner of 2 Oscars, including the “Best Picture of the Year” Academy Award.
✓ Acclaimed for its technical prowess and realism upon release, the film became the yardstick against which future aviation films were measured, mainly because of its realistic air-combat sequences.
✓ Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.


The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927)

The Lodger A Story of the London Fog 1927, Alfred Hitchcock, Best Movies of the Silent Era
Where to Watch?   More info

British crime mystery film directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Referred to as “the first true Hitchcock film” by the monumental director himself, The Lodger is a moody thriller that follows a series of murders – all young blonde women – committed by “The Avenger,” a Jack the Ripper-like serial killer in early 20th century London. (Amazon)

Why is The Lodger among the best silent movies?
✓ This was Hitchcock’s first commercial hit, and he himself considered this to be his first true suspense film.
✓ Beginning with this movie, Hitchcock helped shape the modern-day thriller genre in film.
✓ Widely considered to be one of the greatest crime films of the Silent Era.


The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)

La passion de Jeanne d’Arc (original French title)

The Passion of Joan of Arc 1928, Maria Falconetti, Best Silent Films
Where to Watch?   More info

French historical film based on the actual record of the trial of Joan of Arc.

Story: In 1431, Jeanne d’Arc is placed on trial on charges of heresy. The ecclesiastical jurists attempt to force Jeanne to recant her claims of holy visions. (IMDB)

The Passion of Joan of Arc is must-see cinema for Renée Maria Falconetti’s incredible performance alone – and an all-time classic for innumerable other reasons.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is The Passion of Joan of Arc among the best films of the Silent Era?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ It is widely regarded as a landmark of Cinema, especially for its production, Dreyer’s direction and Falconetti’s performance, which is often listed as one of the finest in Cinema history.
✓ Selected by the Vatican in the “religion” category of its list of 45 “great films”.


The Circus (1928)

The Circus 1928, Charlie Chaplin, Best Films of the Silent Era
Where to Watch?   More info

American slapstick comedy film written, produced, directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin.

A little tramp accidentally falls in with a down-on-its-luck circus and his acrobatic and comedic skills start drawing audiences to the big-top in droves, but not without a bittersweet brush with romance for the gentle clown. (Amazon)

Why is The Circus among the best silent films?
✓ Featured in Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ It became the seventh highest grossing silent film in cinema history.
✓ Chaplin was nominated for four Academy Awards, but the Academy took him out of the running by giving him a Special Award “for writing, acting, directing and producing The Circus”.



Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928)

Steamboat Bill, Jr. 1928, Buster Keaton, Best Silent Movies
Where to Watch?   More info

American slapstick comedy film co-directed by and starring Buster Keaton.

Steamboat Bill Jr. (Keaton) is the complete opposite of his father in every way. He is utterly inept as a crew member on the boat and he is dating the daughter of his father’s greatest rival.

Why is Steamboat Bill, Jr. among the best movies of the Silent Era?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.
✓ Over the years, the film has become regarded as a masterpiece of its era.


The Cameraman (1928)

The Cameraman 1928, Buster Keaton, Best Movies of the Silent Era
Where to Watch?   More info

American slapstick comedy film co-directed by and starring Buster Keaton.

Story: Buster is so obsessed with a charming office girl at MGM that he decides to impress her at all costs, so he becomes a cameraman only to photograph the film that would make the girl fall for him.

Why is The Cameraman among the best silent movies?
✓ Added to the National Film Registry as being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
✓ Upon release, the film was a critical success and a box office hit.
✓ MGM’s writing department used the film to train new writers as a “perfectly constructed comedy” for decades.


Pandora’s Box (1929)

Pandora's Box 1929, Louise Brooks, Best Silent Films
Where to Watch?   More info

German romantic crime film starring Louise Brooks.

The rise and inevitable fall of an amoral but naive young woman whose insouciant eroticism inspires lust and violence in those around her. (IMDB)

Why is Pandora’s Box among the best films of the Silent Era?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ Chosen by “Premiere” Magazine as one of the “100 Movies That Shook the World”.
✓ One of the most popular silent films of the 1920s Cinema, and an all-time classic.


City Lights (1931)

City Lights 1931, Charlie Chaplin, Best Films of the Silent Era
Where to Watch?   More info

American slapstick romantic comedy film written, produced, directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin.

Story: The Little Tramp is in love with a sightless flower girl, whose blindness could be cured by an expensive operation. He decides to raise the money, even if that means being a prize fighter or worse.

One of the best underdog romance movies ever, with an ending that will light up any heart.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is City Lights among the best silent films?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ The American Film Institute ranked this as the #1 Romantic Comedy of All Time, and the #11 Greatest Movie of All Time.
✓ Upon release it became a critical success and a box office hit, and today many critics consider it not only the highest accomplishment of Chaplin’s career, but one of the greatest films of all time.


Modern Times (1936)

Modern Times 1936, Charlie Chaplin, Best Silent Movies
Where to Watch?   More info

American slapstick comedy film written, produced, directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin.

Story: The Tramp struggles to live in modern industrial society with the help of a young homeless woman. (IMDB)

A slapstick skewering of industrialized America, Modern Times is as politically incisive as it is laugh-out-loud hilarious.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Modern Times among the best movies of the Silent Era?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ The American Film Institute ranked this as the #78 Greatest Movie of All Time.
✓ Selected by the Vatican in the “art” category of its list of 45 “great films” and it was also deemed “culturally significant” by the Library of Congress, and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.



…and as promised: The BONUS Movie!

The Artist (2011)

The Artist 2011, Best Silent Films
Where to Watch?   More info

French comedy-drama film starring Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo.

Why is the a BONUS movie?
Because the Artist is an out-of-the-blue silent film, shot and released in the 2010s, in a time when Silent Cinema was thought to be buried and long-forgotten by the general public.

Story: An egomaniacal film star develops a relationship with a young dancer against the backdrop of Hollywood’s silent era. (IMDB)

A crowd-pleasing tribute to the magic of silent cinema, The Artist is a clever, joyous film with delightful performances and visual style to spare.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is The Artist among the best silent movies?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
✓ Winner of 5 Oscars, 3 Golden Globes, 7 BAFTAs and several others awards. Actually it has received more awards than any other French film before.


…end of the reel…

So there you have it: The 30+1 Greatest Movies of the Silent Era

If you want to take a look at the Best Silent Movies listed above, without all that info between the titles, here’s a quick recap:

Top 30+1 Movies from the Silent Era
A Trip to the Moon 1902
1. A Trip to the Moon (1902)
The Birth of a Nation 1915
2. The Birth of a Nation (1915)
Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages 1916
3. Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages (1916)
Broken Blossoms 1919
4. Broken Blossoms (1919)
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 1920
5. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
The Kid 1921
6. The Kid (1921)
The Phantom Carriage 1921
7. The Phantom Carriage (1921)
Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror 1922
8. Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror (1922)
Safety Last! 1923
9. Safety Last! (1923)
Our Hospitality 1923
10. Our Hospitality (1923)
Sherlock Jr. 1924
11. Sherlock Jr. (1924)
The Last Laugh 1924
12. The Last Laugh (1924)
Greed 1924
13. Greed (1924)
The Thief of Bagdad 1924
14. The Thief of Bagdad (1924)
The Gold Rush 1925
15. The Gold Rush (1925)
Battleship Potemkin 1925
16. Battleship Potemkin (1925)
The Phantom of the Opera 1925
17. The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
The General 1926
18. The General (1926)
Faust 1926
19. Faust (1926)
Metropolis 1927
20. Metropolis (1927)
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans 1927
21. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
Wings 1927
22. Wings (1927)
The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog 1927
23. The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927)
The Passion of Joan of Arc 1928
24. The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
The Circus 1928
25. The Circus (1928)
Steamboat Bill, Jr. 1928
26. Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928)
The Cameraman 1928
27. The Cameraman (1928)
Pandora's Box 1929
28. Pandora's Box (1929)
City Lights 1931
29. City Lights (1931)
Modern Times 1936
30. Modern Times (1936)
The Artist 2011
31. Bonus Movie: The Artist (2011)
*Click any Title for more Info and for Streaming / Disc Buying options.

Wait, there’s more!

If you’re a hardcore fan of Silent Films, and you already saw most of the movies in the Top 30+1 List above, than here’s the extended version for you:

TOP 101 FILMS OF THE SILENT ERA
Click to reveal the List ↴

Top 101 Movies of the Silent Era
- 1900 to 1909 -
A Trip to the Moon 1902
1. A Trip to the Moon (1902)
The Great Train Robbery 1903
2. The Great Train Robbery (1903)
The Impossible Voyage 1904
3. The Impossible Voyage (1904)
- 1910s -
Cabiria 1914
4. Cabiria (1914)
Tillie’s Punctured Romance 1914
5. Tillie’s Punctured Romance (1914)
The Birth of a Nation 1915
6. The Birth of a Nation (1915)
Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages 1916
7. Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages (1916)
Easy Street 1917
8. Easy Street (1917)
The Immigrant 1917
9. The Immigrant (1917)
A Dog's Life 1918
10. A Dog's Life (1918)
Shoulder Arms 1918
11. Shoulder Arms (1918)
Broken Blossoms 1919
12. Broken Blossoms (1919)
- 1920 -
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1920
13. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Neighbors 1920
14. Neighbors
One Week 1920
15. One Week
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 1920
16. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
The Golem: How He Came Into the World 1920
17. The Golem: How He Came into the World
The Mark of Zorro 1920
18. The Mark of Zorro
*Part of the Collection: Douglas Fairbanks’s Zorro Duology
Way Down East 1920
19. Way Down East
- 1921 -
Destiny 1921
20. Destiny
Orphans of the Storm 1921
21. Orphans of the Storm
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse 1921
22. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
The Kid 1921
23. The Kid
The Phantom Carriage 1921
24. The Phantom Carriage
The Playhouse 1921
25. The Playhouse
The Sheik 1921
26. The Sheik
*Part of the Collection: Rudolph Valentino’s Sheik Duology
- 1922 -
Beyond the Rocks 1922
27. Beyond the Rocks
Cops 1922
28. Cops
Dr. Mabuse the Gambler 1922
29. Dr. Mabuse the Gambler
Foolish Wives 1922
30. Foolish Wives
Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages 1922
31. Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages
Nanook of the North 1922
32. Nanook of the North
Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror 1922
33. Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror
- 1923 -
A Woman of Paris: A Drama of Fate 1923
34. A Woman of Paris: A Drama of Fate
Our Hospitality 1923
35. Our Hospitality
Safety Last! 1923
36. Safety Last!
The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923
37. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Pilgrim 1923
38. The Pilgrim
Three Ages 1923
39. Three Ages
- 1924 -
Aelita: Queen of Mars 1924
40. Aelita: Queen of Mars
Die Nibelungen Duology 1924
41. Die Nibelungen Duology
Girl Shy 1924
42. Girl Shy
Greed 1924
43. Greed
He Who Gets Slapped 1924
44. He Who Gets Slapped
Sherlock Jr. 1924
45. Sherlock Jr.
The Hands of Orlac 1924
46. The Hands of Orlac
The Last Laugh 1924
47. The Last Laugh
The Navigator 1924
48. The Navigator
The Thief of Bagdad 1924
49. The Thief of Bagdad
- 1925 -
Battleship Potemkin 1925
50. Battleship Potemkin
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ 1925
51. Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ
Go West 1925
52. Go West
Seven Chances 1925
53. Seven Chances
Strike 1925
54. Strike
The Big Parade 1925
55. The Big Parade
The Freshman 1925
56. The Freshman
*Part of the Collection: Harold Lloyd’s Freshman Duology

The Gold Rush 1925
57. The Gold Rush
The Lost World 1925
58. The Lost World
The Phantom of the Opera 1925
59. The Phantom of the Opera
- 1926 -
Battling Butler 1926
60. Battling Butler
Faust 1926
61. Faust

Flesh and the Devil 1926
62. Flesh and the Devil
The Adventures of Prince Achmed 1926
63. The Adventures of Prince Achmed
The General 1926
64. The General
- 1927 -
7th Heaven 1927
65. 7th Heaven
College 1927
66. College
It 1927
67. It
Metropolis 1927
68. Metropolis
69. Napoleon
October: Ten Days that Shook the World 1927
70. October: Ten Days that Shook the World
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans 1927
71. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
The Cat and the Canary 1927
72. The Cat and the Canary
The Kid Brother 1927
73. The Kid Brother
The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog 1927
74. The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog
The Ring 1927
75. The Ring
The Unknown 1927
76. The Unknown
Wings 1927
77. Wings
- 1928 -
Show People 1928
78. Show People
Speedy 1928
79. Speedy
Spies 1928
80. Spies
Steamboat Bill, Jr. 1928
81. Steamboat Bill, Jr.
The Cameraman 1928
82. The Cameraman
The Circus 1928
83. The Circus
The Crowd 1928
84. The Crowd
The Docks of New York 1928
85. The Docks of New York
The Fall of the House of Usher 1928
86. The Fall of the House of Usher
The Last Command 1928
87. The Last Command
The Man Who Laughs 1928
88. The Man Who Laughs
The Passion of Joan of Arc 1928
89. The Passion of Joan of Arc
The Wind 1928
90. The Wind
- 1929 -
Diary of a Lost Girl 1929
91. Diary of a Lost Girl
Man with a Movie Camera 1929
92. Man with a Movie Camera
Pandora's Box 1929
93. Pandora's Box
Woman in the Moon 1929
94. Woman in the Moon
- 1930s -
City Girl 1930
95. City Girl (1930)
Earth 1930
96. Earth (1930)
City Lights 1931
97. City Lights (1931)

I Was Born, But... 1932
98. I Was Born, But... (1932)


A Story of Floating Weeds 1934 width=
99. A Story of Floating Weeds (1934)

Modern Times 1936
100. Modern Times (1936)
Bonus Movie:
The Artist 2011
101. The Artist (2011)

*Click any Title for more Info and for Streaming / Disc Buying options.

Is there a movie on the list you’d replace with another one? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!


Ready for another journey?

Explore the Best Movies of the next cinematic era too!

Next: 1930s

Related Posts

Your turn! Share your thoughts below...