10 Most Iconic Silent Movies, Ranked (According To Rotten Tomatoes) (2022)

Narration is often frowned upon by filmmakers and critics alike. Because truth be told, narration is for radio-- why tell when you can show? That's primarily the purpose of visual media. That's also why the earliest films are silent movies apart from the fact that audio recording tech was limited back then. The result is that silent movies are the pioneers of everything we enjoy now.

Some of them are even watchable or feel more like actual movies that today's typical morsel for the masses. Their impact on filmmaking as a whole has also been groundbreaking and many popular things today owe much to them. So to better appreciate the essence of cinema in its purest form, which is literally just a motion picture, these silent films ought to provide a raw view of modern art.

10 The General (1926) - 93%

10 Most Iconic Silent Movies, Ranked (According To Rotten Tomatoes) (1)

Even back in the 1920s when film is limited to just visuals, the genres were quite varied and there was a healthy mix of science-fiction, romance, drama, and of course comedy. One of the best in the last category isThe Generalfrom the esteemed director and actor, Buster Keaton.

The film stars Buster Keaton himself as a railroad engineer during the American Civil War. The railroad engineer's sweetheart happened to be on board the train when it was stolen by Northern Union forces and so he had to chase them to rescue his wife in the process. Therein lies the comedic punches of the movie where Buster Keaton's railroad acrobatics are the star of the show.

9 Sherlock Jr. (1924) - 96%

10 Most Iconic Silent Movies, Ranked (According To Rotten Tomatoes) (2)

Another classic from Buster Keaton,Sherlock Jr.came out earlier and had the same plot where Buster's movie fiancee was kidnapped (again) and so he was forced out of his comfort zone. However, this time around, Buster Keaton is also an amateurish detective wannabe who wants to make it big.

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So he tracks down his wife's kidnapper in the most unprofessional manner only to find out that he doesn't have what it takes. Disheartened and wrongfully accused, Buster returns to his job as a projectionist in the movie theater only to fall asleep and nurse his failure by dreaming up that he's Sherlock Holmes, hence the title.

8 Metropolis (1927) - 97%

10 Most Iconic Silent Movies, Ranked (According To Rotten Tomatoes) (3)

Quite possibly the first Cyberpunk genre movie or its progenitor,Metropolisis an outstanding science-fiction movie that daringly incorporates social themes and issues in its fictional world. While most science fiction media at the time were intent on visualizing a perfect future,Metropolispainted the setting as a flawed utopia where everything bad is hidden underneath the shiny and chrome-plated skyscrapers.

One privileged man named Freder discovers this and thought of a way to resolve such an issue by teaming up with a rebellious teacher. Even now, there's no denying that the film took inspiration from Marxist theories since the movie was made by German filmmakers.

7 Nosferatu (1922) - 97%

Nosferatuis still a household name and title right now due to how boldly it took the horror genre in a certain direction that would have provided a template for many succeeding movies in the category.Nosferatuis also one of the earliest motion picture adaptations ofDracula.

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Being an old film, the story was simple and seemed more like a sitcom by today's standards. A married couple decided to purchase a house in Transylvania near an eerie castle. As expected, the Count who lives in the nearby castle is a vampire and the man and his wife's house tripping suddenly turned into a survival run.

6 The Passion Of Joan Of Arc (1928) - 98%

10 Most Iconic Silent Movies, Ranked (According To Rotten Tomatoes) (5)

Joan of Arc has always been a subject of fascination for many forms of art and that includes movies. That's why it was rather inevitable that she'd be one of the first historical figures to have her own film and one of the earliest works about her in the modern world isThe Passion of Joan of Arc.

This one targets and highlights a specific part of her life particularly when she was caught and tried for her beliefs. This took place after she was captured by theEnglish. Much of the film revolves around her religious and philosophical debates against French clergymen who were loyal to the English.

5 The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari (1920) - 98%

10 Most Iconic Silent Movies, Ranked (According To Rotten Tomatoes) (6)

A lot of suspense and mystery directors ought to give a nod to this film,The Cabinet of Dr. Caligarias it's one of the first "whodunit" movies.The Cabinet of Dr. Caligaritoys with the idea of suspicion, one that involves murder and death as it follows the unfortunate and untimely demise of a man named Alan.

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Prior to Alan's death, he and his friend, Francis visited the famous Dr. Caligari who controls a sleepwalker named Cesare. Caligari claims that Cesare can predict the future and the latter predicted Alan's death, making him the prime suspect. Still, things are not what they appear in this silent movie and it's worth watching alone for that twist at the ending.

4 The Gold Rush (1925) - 100%

10 Most Iconic Silent Movies, Ranked (According To Rotten Tomatoes) (7)

Few actors or directors have been more synonymous with the silent film format as Charlie Chaplin himself. This legendary comedian has already made an impressive number of comedy movies and skits most of which are relevant and politically significant. One of them is the film calledThe Gold Rush.

Here, Charlie Chaplin takes on the role of a lone prospector who teams up with a gold seeker during the Klondike Gold Rush period in the cold rivers of Alaska. Unfortunately, both of them got caught in a blizzard and had to seek shelter— only, the shelter they sought wouldn't let them in. So much for gold.

3 A Trip To The Moon (1902) - 100%

10 Most Iconic Silent Movies, Ranked (According To Rotten Tomatoes) (8)

Ever wanted to appreciate how far and fast humanity has advanced in the past hundred years? Then a film likeA Trip to the Moonshould show everyone just how much different it was back then. It was made and released in 1902 back at a time when people thought that escaping the Earth was as easy as making a giant cannon and firing someone at the sky.

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A Trip to the Moonexplored this idea and imagined what the moon would have looked like until NASA ruined everythingnearly 70 years later. Back then, this was entertainment enough for the masses even though it had a length of about only 12 minutes. A colored version is also available.

2 Battleship Potemkin (1926) - 100%

10 Most Iconic Silent Movies, Ranked (According To Rotten Tomatoes) (9)

Another film that echoes Marxist ideals and concepts of revolution,Battleship Potemkinis no doubt significant not just to cinema but also to the world. It was inspired by a real-life mutiny of a battleship of the same name back in 1905. There, a crew of sailors aboard the Battleship Potemkin revolted against the unfair treatment of their Tsarist officers and initiated a mutiny.

Due to the oppressive nature of the Tsarist empire, the mutineers of Potemkin garnered the support of the masses as well as the other battleships and Tsarist soldiers sent to quell their rebellion.

1 The Man Who Laughs (1928) - 100%

10 Most Iconic Silent Movies, Ranked (According To Rotten Tomatoes) (10)

DC's Joker is generally considered the greatest comic book villain of all time and he wouldn't have existed or would have been that popular if not for a silent movie that inspired his inception,The Man Who Laughs.The Joker is practically a spitting image of the main character of the said movie.

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He's a clown who was disfigured from childhood with a permanent scar on both sides of his lips that gives him a constant grin. The man then travels around in a freakshow carnival only to get entangled in royalty.

NEXT:10 Best Modern Movies Shot In Black-And-White

FAQs

What is the number 1 movie on Rotten Tomatoes? ›

A number of these films also appear on the AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies lists, but there are many others and several entries with dozens of positive reviews, which are considered surprising to some experts. To date, Leave No Trace holds the site's record, with a rating of 100% and 251 positive reviews.

What was the greatest grossing silent movie of all time? ›

Top grossing silent films
  • The Birth of a Nation (1915) - $10,000,000.
  • The Big Parade (1925) - $6,400,000.
  • Ben-Hur (1925) - $5,500,000.
  • Way Down East (1920) - $5,000,000.
  • The Gold Rush (1925) - $4,250,000.
  • The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (film) (1921) - $4,000,000.
  • The Circus (1928) - $3,800,000.

Who is considered as the greatest film silent comedian? ›

In the early years of "talkie" films (beginning in 1927, see The Jazz Singer) a few actors continued to act silently for comedic effect, most famously Charlie Chaplin, whose last great "silent" comedies City Lights (1931) and Modern Times (1936) were both made in the sound age.

Who is the king of silent films? ›

Joseph Frank "Buster" Keaton (October 4, 1895 – February 1, 1966) was an American actor, comedian and filmmaker. He is best known for his silent film work, in which his trademark was physical comedy accompanied by a stoic, deadpan expression that earned him the nickname "The Great Stone Face".

Why are 90% of silent films gone? ›

The largest cause of silent film loss was intentional destruction. Before the era of television (and home video), films were viewed as having little future value when their theatrical runs ended. Similarly, silent films were perceived as worthless after the end of the silent era.

What movie has a 10 10 rating? ›

IMDb Rating: 9.0 - 9.9
DAVEIMDbTITLE
109.6Band of Brothers (2001)
109.3The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
109.2The Godfather (1972)
109.1The Godfather: Part II (1974)
5 more rows

What movies are rated 100% by Rotten Tomatoes? ›

Rotten Tomatoes: 9 movies with a perfect 100% score that you need to watch
  • Modern Times (1936) Stuck at home with the kids? ...
  • Pinocchio (1940) ...
  • Singin' In The Rain (1954) ...
  • Mary Poppins (1964) ...
  • The Terminator (1984) ...
  • Toy Story (1995) ...
  • Toy Story 2 (2000) ...
  • The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya (2015)
18 Jan 2021

What movie has 0 percent Rotten Tomatoes? ›

List
FilmYearNo. of reviews
Bolero198423
Jaws: The Revenge198740
Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol198720
Problem Child199029
39 more rows

What two silent films have won Best Picture? ›

Wings was the only silent film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture. Wings also won the Academy Award for Engineering Effects.

What is the lowest selling movie of all time? ›

Zyzzyx Road, a 2006 thriller, is the lowest-grossing film in history. It only earned a mere $30.

Who is the most famous silent film maker? ›

Charlie Chaplin

In any case, his real talent was coaxing performances out of his co-stars. While many of his comedy contemporaries made “The Girl” or “The Kid” a blank slate to splash gags on, Chaplin at his best made his co-stars the emotional center of his films.

Who were the 3 great silent comedians? ›

The silent film era featured some of the most revered names of on-screen comic performance, from Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton to Harold Lloyd, Douglas Fairbanks, and Laurel & Hardy.

Who is world's No 1 comedian? ›

Highest-paid comedians
RankNameNotable works
1Kevin HartKevin Hart: Let Me Explain, Ride Along, The Secret Life of Pets
2Jerry SeinfeldSeinfeld, The Marriage Ref, I'm Telling You for the Last Time
3Terry FatorAmerica's Got Talent
4Amy SchumerTrainwreck, Inside Amy Schumer, 2015 MTV Movie Awards
6 more rows

Who was the most popular silent film actress? ›

Perhaps the most famous star of the early era—and one of the largest box offices draws in films history—was Mary Pickford. Pickford was among the first women to star on film, getting her start at Biograph studios with D.W. Griffith, the director who would make her famous.

What is the last silent movie? ›

In 1922, when Hollywood was young and anarchic, an actor known as Baby Peggy made a silent film called The Darling Of New York.

How many silent films are lost? ›

Seventy-five percent of all silent films made at the end of the 19th Century and in the first three decades of the 20th, are considered lost, according to a 2013 study by U.S. Library of Congress. Some of these vanished artifacts have taunted film historians for decades.

Who spoke the only word in silent movie? ›

Only Spoken Word (By Marcel Marceau) In Mel Brooks's 'Silent Movie' Crossword Clue
RankWord
3%MOT
3%MARCEAU
3%MARCELMARCEAU
3%MIME
16 more rows

What killed silent films? ›

Most early motion pictures are considered lost because the nitrate film used in that era was extremely unstable and flammable. Additionally, many films were deliberately destroyed because they had negligible continuing financial value in this era.

What ended silent films? ›

The gradual transition from silent films to talkies took place between 1926 and 1930 and included many small steps — both technological developments and adjustments to audience expectations — before it was complete.

Why did Universal destroy silent films? ›

Once the talkie era arrived silents were viewed as taking up valuable studio vault space and many were thrown out. Because of all this, only a small percentage of silent films have survived to be preserved and subsequently copied onto our DVDs and Internet sites.

Which movie has a 5 star rating? ›

1Citizen Kane1941
22001: A Space Odyssey1968
3Vertigo1958
4The Godfather1972
5The Rules of the Game1939
76 more rows

What is a 12 rated film? ›

This means a child under the age of 12 must be accompanied by a grown-up. The 12 rating is used for DVDs and video-on-demand and cannot be sold or rented to anyone under the age of 12. Weapons and bad behaviour may be included in these movies but should not be shown as attractive and should not be glamorised.

What is a 15 rated movie? ›

15 is a rating given by the BBFC that determines that a particular form of media is suitable only for persons aged 15 or over. Nobody younger than 15 can buy a 15-rated video, or see a 15-rated film in a cinema.

What is considered the greatest movie of all time? ›

1. Citizen Kane (1941)

Has any movie gotten a 10 on IMDB? ›

1. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Is 100% Rotten Tomatoes a good score? ›

Theoretically, a 100 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating could be made up entirely of middling-to-positive reviews. And if half of the critics the site aggregates only sort of like a movie, and the other half sort of dislike it, the film will hover around 50 percent (which is considered “rotten” by the site).

What does 95% on Rotten Tomatoes mean? ›

The higher the score, the more consensus there is that the film is Fresh rather than Rotten. NOT "the higher the score the better the film". A movie with 95% is not 20% better than a movie with 75% – the scores don't measure quality. [Antichrist: 50% on Rotten Tomatoes]

How many silent films have won Best Picture? ›

The first (and only) silent film to win 'Best Picture' was Wings (1927/28).
...
There have only been a few nominated science-fiction films before 2009 - and none of them have won the top prize:
  • A Clockwork Orange (1971)
  • Star Wars (1977)
  • E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Who won the 1st Oscar? ›

1st Academy Awards

What is the biggest movie flop of all time? ›

1. The 13th Warrior (1999) Based on the novel Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton (who would direct some re-shoots) and a loose retelling of Beowulf, The 13th Warrior is famous for its huge flop at the box office in 1999.

What was the first movie to make $1 billion? ›

Fastest to $1 billion

Titanic became the first movie to gross over $1 billion worldwide on March 1, 1998, in 74 days of release. The list below is restricted to the 10 who reached the milestone the fastest.

Has any movie ever made 1 billion? ›

Without adjusting for inflation, 50 movies have grossed $1 billion or more at the box office. Using data from Box Office Mojo, we compiled a list of the highest-grossing movies worldwide, including "Frozen 2" and "Joker." "Jurassic World Dominion" is the latest film to join the elite club since the pandemic.

Who is the best movie maker of all time? ›

10 Best Directors Of All Time, According To Ranker
  • 8 The Coen Brothers. ...
  • 7 Quentin Tarantino. ...
  • 6 Francis Ford Coppola. ...
  • 5 Steven Spielberg. ...
  • 4 Akira Kurosawa. ...
  • 3 Martin Scorsese. ...
  • 2 Stanley Kubrick. ...
  • 1 Alfred Hitchcock. Alfred Hitchcock's work is undoubtedly one of the most studied subjects in film classes across the world.
25 Nov 2021

Who was the first silent film star? ›

Fifty-three years passed before actor and film-history buff Roddy McDowall sprang for a headstone that marked the departed's singular place in cinematic history: “The First Movie Star.” Her name was Florence Lawrence.

Who made the first silent movie? ›

Produced by Thomas Edison but directed and filmed by Edison Company employee Edwin S. Porter, the 12-minute-long silent film, The Great Train Robbery (1903), was the first narrative movie—one that told a story.

Are there any modern silent movies? ›

Contemporary silent films
  • Juha (1999) Not Rated | 78 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance. ...
  • Tuvalu (1999) Not Rated | 101 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance. ...
  • The Unusual Inventions of Henry Cavendish (2005) 16 min | Short, Drama, Romance. ...
  • Brand Upon the Brain! ( 2006) ...
  • The Aerial (2007) ...
  • Dr. ...
  • The Artist (I) (2011) ...
  • Return to Babylon (2013)

Who is the best physical comedian? ›

Jim Carrey has to be near the top. From his early days on the stand-up stage to his roles in big films like. One of his most popular In Living Color characters, Fire Marshal Bill, was often a source of hilarious physical comedy.

Who is the richest woman comedian? ›

New mom Amy Schumer is only woman on Forbes' list of highest-earning stand-up comedians. Amy Schumer gives new meaning to "moms can do anything." The stand-up comedian and actress came in 7th on Forbe's 2019 list of highest-earning stand-up comedians, making her the only woman and only mom in the top 10.

Who is the most famous female comedian? ›

These women paved the way for generations of female comedians by challenging antiquated, gendered, and highly problematic notions of who could and could not be funny.
  • Moms Mabley. Jackie " Moms " Mabley performs live 1969. ...
  • Phyllis Diller. ...
  • Carol Burnett. ...
  • Joan Rivers. ...
  • Gilda Radner. ...
  • Wanda Sykes. ...
  • Margaret Cho. ...
  • Sandra Bernhard.
16 Mar 2020

Who was the most famous silent film star of the 1920's? ›

One of the most popular and enduring stars of the silent era was Mary Pickford, beloved by her fans as "America's Sweetheart." She was one of the first stars to take an active role in her own career, becoming one of the founders of United Artists.

Who was the last silent film star? ›

Diana Serra Cary (born Peggy-Jean Montgomery; October 29, 1918 – February 24, 2020), known as Baby Peggy, was an American child film actress, vaudevillian, author and silent film historian. She was the last living person with a substantial career in silent films.

What were silent movies popular? ›

Some of the most notable silent movies off all time are A Trip to the Moon (1902), Ben-Hur (1907), The Birth of a Nation (1915), Nosferatu (1922), The Thief of Bagdad (1923), Battleship Potemkin (1925), The Phantom of the Opera (1925), Metropolis (1927) and The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928).

Who is the most famous silent film maker? ›

Charlie Chaplin

In any case, his real talent was coaxing performances out of his co-stars. While many of his comedy contemporaries made “The Girl” or “The Kid” a blank slate to splash gags on, Chaplin at his best made his co-stars the emotional center of his films.

What was the first silent movie made? ›

First Silent Film: The Great Train Robbery.

What was the last silent movie? ›

In 1922, when Hollywood was young and anarchic, an actor known as Baby Peggy made a silent film called The Darling Of New York.

Who was the most famous silent film actress? ›

Perhaps the most famous star of the early era—and one of the largest box offices draws in films history—was Mary Pickford. Pickford was among the first women to star on film, getting her start at Biograph studios with D.W. Griffith, the director who would make her famous.

How many silent films are lost? ›

Seventy-five percent of all silent films made at the end of the 19th Century and in the first three decades of the 20th, are considered lost, according to a 2013 study by U.S. Library of Congress. Some of these vanished artifacts have taunted film historians for decades.

Are there any modern silent movies? ›

Contemporary silent films
  • Juha (1999) Not Rated | 78 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance. ...
  • Tuvalu (1999) Not Rated | 101 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance. ...
  • The Unusual Inventions of Henry Cavendish (2005) 16 min | Short, Drama, Romance. ...
  • Brand Upon the Brain! ( 2006) ...
  • The Aerial (2007) ...
  • Dr. ...
  • The Artist (I) (2011) ...
  • Return to Babylon (2013)

How many silent films have won Best Picture? ›

The first (and only) silent film to win 'Best Picture' was Wings (1927/28).
...
There have only been a few nominated science-fiction films before 2009 - and none of them have won the top prize:
  • A Clockwork Orange (1971)
  • Star Wars (1977)
  • E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Who is the best movie maker of all time? ›

10 Best Directors Of All Time, According To Ranker
  • 8 The Coen Brothers. ...
  • 7 Quentin Tarantino. ...
  • 6 Francis Ford Coppola. ...
  • 5 Steven Spielberg. ...
  • 4 Akira Kurosawa. ...
  • 3 Martin Scorsese. ...
  • 2 Stanley Kubrick. ...
  • 1 Alfred Hitchcock. Alfred Hitchcock's work is undoubtedly one of the most studied subjects in film classes across the world.
25 Nov 2021

Who was the first silent film star? ›

Fifty-three years passed before actor and film-history buff Roddy McDowall sprang for a headstone that marked the departed's singular place in cinematic history: “The First Movie Star.” Her name was Florence Lawrence.

What is the only word spoken in silent movie? ›

Marcel Marceau reprises his "walking into the wind" routine while trying to lift a phone. He then shouts his only spoken word of the film: "Non!". When the Studio Chief asks what was his answer, Mel Funn cowardly replies that he doesn't understand French.

What are the 7 film eras? ›

The Evolution of Cinema – 7 eras that defined world cinema.
  • Inception: The Silent Era. ...
  • The Sound Era. ...
  • The Golden Age of Cinema. ...
  • The Blockbuster Era. ...
  • Collaborate. ...
  • The Independent Era. ...
  • New Age Cinema.
7 Sept 2020

When were silent movies most popular? ›

This led to the silent movie era which ranged from 1894 to 1929. During this time period, a number of moving pictures were created and shown in theaters on big screens.

What is a silent actor called? ›

Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. A mime artist, or simply mime (from Greek μῖμος, mimos, "imitator, actor"), is a person who uses mime as a theatrical medium or as a performance art. Miming involves acting out a story through body motions, without the use of speech.

Are there any silent film stars alive? ›

The last surviving film star of the silent era, Diana Serra Cary, has died aged 101 according to the Niles Film Museum. Known by her stage name Baby Peggy, Cary starred in over 100 short films and was one of the highest paid Hollywood stars of the 1920s, earning upwards of $1.5 million a year.

What ended silent films? ›

The gradual transition from silent films to talkies took place between 1926 and 1930 and included many small steps — both technological developments and adjustments to audience expectations — before it was complete.

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