Top 40 Films Made Before 1920

Top 40 of the early silent era in no order
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1.
An Impossible Voyage (1904 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Using every known means of transportation, several savants from the Geographic Society undertake a journey... (24 mins.)
 
2.
A Trip to the Moon (1902 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A group of astronomers go on an expedition to the Moon. (13 mins.)
 
3.
The Golden Beetle (1907 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
A conjurer with white beard and turban moves about in front of a building with an elaborate facade. He spies a golden beetle... (3 mins.)
 
4.
The Great Train Robbery (1903 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A group of bandits stage a brazen train hold-up, only to find a determined posse hot on their heels. (11 mins.)
 
5.
Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (1902 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
An early adaptation of the Ali Baba tale. (9 mins.)
Director: Ferdinand Zecca
 
6.
Batty Bill's Bustle Makes Everyone Hustle (1912 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
The only way Onésime could think of to get his inheritance quicker was to set the clocks forward. Surprise: the whole world starts speeding up wildly. (5 mins.)
Director: Jean Durand
 
7.
Annabelle Serpentine Dance (1895 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
Annabelle (Whitford) Moore performs one of her popular dance routines. She uses her dance steps and her long, flowing skirts to create a variety of visual patterns. (1 mins.)
 
8.
Roundhay Garden Scene (1888 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
In the garden, a man asks his friends to do something silly for him to record on film. (1 mins.)
“ First film ever. ” - Kino_Pravda
 
9.
Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages (1916)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
The story of a poor young woman, separated by prejudice from her husband and baby, is interwoven with tales of intolerance from throughout history. (163 mins.)
Director: D.W. Griffith
 
10.
Ingeborg Holm (1913)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Single mother is separated from her children due to financial struggles. (96 mins.)
 
11.
Die Spinnen, 1. Teil - Der Goldene See (1919)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
Kay Hoog finds a message that indicates that some Incas are still alive, but the secret organisation "Die Spinnen" wants the Incas' gold.... (81 mins.)
Director: Fritz Lang
 
12.
Gretchen the Greenhorn (1916)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
A kindly Dutch immigrant and her bumbling father are blackmailed by a gang of counterfeiters. (58 mins.)
 
13.
The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
True story of notorious Australian outlaw Ned Kelly (1855-80). (70 mins.)
Director: Charles Tait
 
14.
Broken Blossoms or The Yellow Man and the Girl (1919)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A frail waif, abused by her brutal boxer father in London's seedy Limehouse District, is befriended by a sensitive Chinese immigrant with tragic consequences. (90 mins.)
Director: D.W. Griffith
 
15.
Traffic Crossing Leeds Bridge (1888 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
A shot of people walking on The Leeds Bridge.
 
16.
The Eclipse: Courtship of the Sun and Moon (1907 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
An astronomer of age, wealth, and erudition conducts classes in his home. His students are not always respectful... (9 mins.)
 
17.
Aladdin and His Wonder Lamp (1906 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
The legend of Aladdin and his magic lamp: Aladdin finds a magic lamp which brings him wealth, luxury... (12 mins.)
 
18.
A Photographic Contortion (1901 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A man, objecting to being filmed, comes closer and closer to the camera lens until his mouth is all we see. Then he opens wide and swallows camera and cinematographer. He steps back, chews, and grins. (1 mins.)
Stars: Sam Dalton
 
19.
San Francisco: Aftermath of Earthquake (1906 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
Footage shot not long after the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco is edited together so that more than one scene and more than one vantage are included... (1 mins.)
 
20.
That Fatal Sneeze (1907 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
As an older man and a youth are eating at the table, the older man decides to amuse himself by using pepper to make the boy sneeze... (6 mins.)
Director: Lewin Fitzhamon
 
21.
Niagara Falls (1897 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  
A stationary camera looks west across Niagara Falls from the United States' side (the Niagara River rushes toward the falls from right to left)... (1 mins.)
 
22.
Rough Sea at Dover (1896 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  
The sea is quite rough, and at Dover a series of heavy waves pounds against a pier and along the adjacent shoreline. The scene then shifts to a different view of flowing water, and shows a heavy current from a point along a riverbank. (1 mins.)
Director: Birt Acres
 
23.
Mary Jane's Mishap (1903 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
Smith casts his wife as a sluttish housewife who is mutilated by lighting her oven with paraffin. (4 mins.)
 
24.
The Delights of Automobiling (1900 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
This is altogether a remarkable picture and of very fine photographic value. It shows a picturesque country road... (1 mins.)
 
25.
The Scheming Gambler's Paradise (1905 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
A combination gambling den and bawdy house is set up so that croupiers, patrons, prostitutes, and the... (3 mins.)
 
26.
An Extraordinary Cab Accident (1903 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
A man and a woman talk beside a street near a corner where a cop stands. Just as a horse-drawn cart rounds the corner... (1 mins.)
 
27.
The '?' Motorist (1906 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
A British trick film in which a motorist ends up driving around the rings of Saturn. (3 mins.)
Director: Walter R. Booth
 
28.
Magic Bricks (1908 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
Experimental color film that shows a magician and his assistant making objects and people appear and disappear. Then they stack up some blocks and a moving picture of a little girl appears on them. (3 mins.)
 
29.
Revolution in Russia (1906 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  
A dramatization of the uprising in Odessa, Russia in 1905: A ship's crew, tired of being mistreated... (4 mins.)
Director: Lucien Nonguet
 
30.
Let Me Dream Again (1900 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
A man dreams he is flirting with an attractive young lady, then he wakes up in bed next to his wife. (1 mins.)
 
31.
How It Feels to Be Run Over (1900 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
As the camera looks down an open road, a horse and carriage approaches, and passes by to one side of the field of view... (1 mins.)
 
32.
The Cock Fight (1894 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.5/10 X  
Two gamecocks fight in the Edison Company film studio. This feature was remade later in the same year, with additional detail added. (1 mins.)
 
33.
Promenade of Ostriches, Paris Botanical Gardens (1896 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  
Fin de siécle elegance. A parade of sorts passes in front of a stationary camera. An ostrich pulls a cart in which two well-dressed girls sit... (1 mins.)
 
34.
The Countryman's First Sight of the Animated Pictures (1901 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
A satire on the way that audiences unaccustomed to the cinema didn't know how to react to the moving images on a screen - in this film... (1 mins.)
Director: Robert W. Paul
 
35.
Airy Fairy Lillian Tries on Her New Corsets (1905 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.7/10 X  
A very large woman, wearing a shift, stands beside a bed and tries to put on a corset. After failing to get it around her... (1 mins.)
 
36.
Spanish Bullfight (1900 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.1/10 X  
With a crowded arena in the background, a stationary camera records a bull charging a picador astride his horse... (1 mins.)
 
37.
The Kiss (1896 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  
Two people kiss. (1 mins.)
Director: William Heise
 
38.
Tables Turned on the Gardener (1895 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A gardener is watering his flowers, when a mischievous boy sneaks up behind his back, and puts a foot on the water hose... (1 mins.)
Director: Louis Lumière
 
39.
Dickson Experimental Sound Film (1894 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
The sound has been found in the form of an old Edisonian recording cylinder. The cylinder was repaired, then Walter Murch ACE MPSE synced the film to the correct music in (I believe) 2002. Total running time is approximately 17 seconds.
 
40.
Life of an American Fireman (1903 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
Porter's sequential continuity editing links several shots to form a narrative of firemen responding to a house fire... (6 mins.)