List of films in the public domain in the United States (New 2012)

by SelfCloak | created - 21 Dec 2012 | updated - 21 Dec 2012 | Public

This is a list of films that certain cited sources believe are in the public domain in the United States. Being in the public domain refers to cinematic, dramatic, literary, musical and artistic works that no government, organization, or individual owns, and as such is common property. Note: Films in this list may incorporate elements from other works that are still under copyright, even though the film itself is out of copyright. (List made in 2012)

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1. Angel and the Badman (1947)

Approved | 100 min | Romance, Western

Quirt Evans, an all round bad guy, is nursed back to health and sought after by Penelope Worth, a Quaker girl. He eventually finds himself having to choose between his world and the world Penelope lives in.

Director: James Edward Grant | Stars: John Wayne, Gail Russell, Harry Carey, Bruce Cabot

Votes: 4,334

2. The Animal Kingdom (1932)

Approved | 85 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

Tom Collier has had a great relationship with Daisy, but when he decides to marry, it is not Daisy whom he asks, it is Cecelia. After the marriage, Tom is bored with the social scene and ... See full summary »

Directors: Edward H. Griffith, George Cukor | Stars: Ann Harding, Leslie Howard, Myrna Loy, William Gargan

Votes: 774

3. Algiers (1938)

Unrated | 96 min | Drama, Mystery, Romance

Beautiful Gaby meets a romantic jewel thief in the mysterious Casbah.

Director: John Cromwell | Stars: Charles Boyer, Hedy Lamarr, Sigrid Gurie, Joseph Calleia

Votes: 1,960

4. Beau Brummel (1924)

135 min | Drama, History, Romance

George Bryan Brummel, a British military officer, loves Lady Margery, the betrothed of Lord Alvanley. Despite her own desperate love for Brummel, she submits to family pressure and marries ... See full summary »

Director: Harry Beaumont | Stars: John Barrymore, Mary Astor, Willard Louis, Carmel Myers

Votes: 346 | Gross: $0.29M

5. Beau Ideal (1931)

Passed | 79 min | Adventure, Romance, War

An American joins the French Foreign Legion in order to rescue a boyhood friend.

Director: Herbert Brenon | Stars: Frank McCormick, Ralph Forbes, Lester Vail, Otto Matieson

Votes: 115

6. Behind Office Doors (1931)

Passed | 82 min | Drama, Romance

Mary Linden is the secretary who is the unheralded power behind successful executive James Duneen. He takes her for granted until rival Wales tries to take her away from him.

Director: Melville W. Brown | Stars: Mary Astor, Robert Ames, Ricardo Cortez, Catherine Dale Owen

Votes: 274

7. Bird of Paradise (1932)

Passed | 80 min | Adventure, Drama, Romance

A native girl falls for a visitor to her island, but she's chosen to be sacrificed to the volcano god.

Director: King Vidor | Stars: Dolores del Rio, Joel McCrea, John Halliday, Richard 'Skeets' Gallagher

Votes: 860

8. Blood on the Sun (1945)

Approved | 98 min | Drama, Romance, Thriller

A dedicated American reporter in 1930s Japan is determined to expose that government's plan for world domination.

Director: Frank Lloyd | Stars: James Cagney, Sylvia Sidney, Porter Hall, John Emery

Votes: 1,534

9. Charade (1963)

Not Rated | 113 min | Comedy, Mystery, Romance

Romance and suspense ensue in Paris as a woman is pursued by several men who want a fortune her murdered husband had stolen. Whom can she trust?

Director: Stanley Donen | Stars: Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Walter Matthau, James Coburn

Votes: 55,998 | Gross: $13.47M

10. Check and Double Check (1930)

Passed | 77 min | Comedy

Typical Amos 'n Andy storyline has the boys trying to make a go of their "open-air" taxi business while they get caught up in a society hassle, involving driving musicians to a fancy party.... See full summary »

Director: Melville W. Brown | Stars: Freeman F. Gosden, Charles J. Correll, Sue Carol, Irene Rich

Votes: 311

11. Conspiracy (1930)

Passed | 69 min | Mystery

For the last four years Margaret Holt has been helping her brother, assistant D.A. Victor Holt, to try to bring down the dope dealing Schemer Marko gang. Margaret kills Marko (aka 'James ... See full summary »

Director: Christy Cabanne | Stars: Bessie Love, Ned Sparks, Hugh Trevor, Ivan Lebedeff

Votes: 80

12. The Dance of Life (1929)

115 min | Drama, Musical, Romance

A vaudeville comic and a pretty young dancer aren't having much luck in their separate careers, so they decide to combine their acts. In order to save money on the road, they get married. ... See full summary »

Directors: John Cromwell, A. Edward Sutherland | Stars: Hal Skelly, Nancy Carroll, Dorothy Revier, Ralph Theodore

Votes: 211

13. Danger Lights (1930)

Passed | 74 min | Adventure, Drama

The tough boss of a railroad yard befriends a young hobo, and unwittingly places in jeopardy his relationship with the woman he loves.

Director: George B. Seitz | Stars: Louis Wolheim, Jean Arthur, Robert Armstrong, Hugh Herbert

Votes: 421

14. Dixiana (1930)

Passed | 100 min | Comedy, Musical, Romance

In antebellum New Orleans, two men vie for the affections of a beautiful young girl during Mardi Gras.

Director: Luther Reed | Stars: Bebe Daniels, Everett Marshall, Bert Wheeler, Robert Woolsey

Votes: 249

15. The Driller Killer (1979)

Not Rated | 96 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

An artist slowly goes insane while struggling to pay his bills, work on his paintings, and care for his two female roommates, which leads him taking to the streets of New York after dark and randomly killing derelicts with a power drill.

Director: Abel Ferrara | Stars: Abel Ferrara, Carolyn Marz, Baybi Day, Harry Schultz

Votes: 5,409

16. Father's Little Dividend (1951)

Not Rated | 82 min | Comedy, Romance

In this sequel to Father of the Bride (1950), newly married Kay Dunstan announces that she and her husband are going to have a baby, leaving her father having to come to grips with the fact that he will soon be a granddad.

Director: Vincente Minnelli | Stars: Spencer Tracy, Joan Bennett, Elizabeth Taylor, Don Taylor

Votes: 2,872

17. A Farewell to Arms (1932)

Unrated | 80 min | Drama, Romance, War

An American ambulance driver and an English nurse fall in love in Italy during World War I.

Director: Frank Borzage | Stars: Gary Cooper, Helen Hayes, Adolphe Menjou, Mary Philips

Votes: 4,054

18. The General (1926)

Not Rated | 67 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy

When Union spies steal an engineer's beloved locomotive, he pursues it single-handedly and straight through enemy lines.

Directors: Clyde Bruckman, Buster Keaton | Stars: Buster Keaton, Marion Mack, Glen Cavender, Jim Farley

Votes: 65,879

19. The Gold Rush (1925)

Not Rated | 95 min | Adventure, Comedy, Drama

A prospector goes to the Klondike in search of gold and finds it and more.

Director: Charles Chaplin | Stars: Charles Chaplin, Mack Swain, Tom Murray, Henry Bergman

Votes: 82,571 | Gross: $5.45M

20. Go for Broke! (1951)

Passed | 92 min | Drama, History, War

The story of Japanese-American soldiers who fought in Europe during World War II.

Director: Robert Pirosh | Stars: Van Johnson, Lane Nakano, George Miki, Akira Fukunaga

Votes: 1,019

21. Half Shot at Sunrise (1930)

Passed | 78 min | Comedy, Musical

The stage stars Wheeler and Woolsey play two soldiers who go absent without leave in Paris, during World War I.

Director: Paul Sloane | Stars: Bert Wheeler, Robert Woolsey, Dorothy Lee, George MacFarlane

Votes: 240

22. Hemp for Victory (1943)

15 min | Documentary, Short

An informational film produced to encourage farmers to grow hemp for the war effort during WW2. The film details the many industrial uses of hemp, including cloth and cordage, as well as a detailed history of the plant's use.

Director: Raymond Evans | Star: Lee D. Vickers

Votes: 86

23. His Girl Friday (1940)

Not Rated | 92 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

A newspaper editor uses every trick in the book to keep his ace reporter ex-wife from remarrying.

Director: Howard Hawks | Stars: Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy, Gene Lockhart

Votes: 45,720

24. Hook Line and Sinker (1930)

Passed | 75 min | Comedy, Romance

Two fast-talking insurance salesmen meet Mary, who is running away from her wealthy mother, and they agree to help her run a hotel that she owns. When they find out that the hotel is run ... See full summary »

Director: Edward F. Cline | Stars: Bert Wheeler, Robert Woolsey, Dorothy Lee, Ralf Harolde

Votes: 225

25. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (I) (1923)

Unrated | 133 min | Drama, Horror, Romance

In fifteenth century Paris, the brother of the archdeacon plots with the gypsy king to foment a peasant revolt. Meanwhile, a freakish hunchback falls in love with the gypsy queen.

Director: Wallace Worsley | Stars: Lon Chaney, Patsy Ruth Miller, Norman Kerry, Kate Lester

Votes: 3,990 | Gross: $1.02M

26. Inside the Lines (1930)

Approved | 72 min | Drama

During World War 1, German spies will stop at nothing to spy on the allied war plans stored at Gibraltar.

Director: Roy Pomeroy | Stars: Betty Compson, Ralph Forbes, Montagu Love, Ivan F. Simpson

Votes: 67

27. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

PG | 130 min | Drama, Family, Fantasy

89 Metascore

An angel is sent from Heaven to help a desperately frustrated businessman by showing him what life would have been like if he had never existed.

Director: Frank Capra | Stars: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell

Votes: 327,366 | Gross: $7.27M

28. Kept Husbands (1931)

Passed | 76 min | Drama, Romance

Daughter of a wealthy family decides to marry a poor working man.

Director: Lloyd Bacon | Stars: Clara Kimball Young, Joel McCrea, Dorothy Mackaill, Ned Sparks

Votes: 340

29. The Lady Refuses (1931)

Passed | 72 min | Drama, Romance

Father hires a woman to lure his son away from a gold digger.

Director: George Archainbaud | Stars: Betty Compson, John Darrow, Gilbert Emery, Margaret Livingston

Votes: 154

30. A Lady to Love (1930)

92 min | Drama, Romance

Middle-aged Napa Valley grape-grower Tony posts a marriage proposal to San Francisco waitress Lena enclosing a photo of his handsome younger brother Buck. When she gets there she overlooks ... See full summary »

Director: Victor Sjöström | Stars: Vilma Bánky, Edward G. Robinson, Robert Ames, Richard Carle

Votes: 110

31. The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954)

Approved | 116 min | Drama, Romance

Charles returns to Paris to reminisce about the life he led in Paris after it was liberated. He worked on "Stars and Stripes" when he met Marion and Helen. He would marry and be happy ... See full summary »

Director: Richard Brooks | Stars: Elizabeth Taylor, Van Johnson, Walter Pidgeon, Donna Reed

Votes: 2,847

32. Lawful Larceny (1930)

66 min | Drama

A woman of low morals who runs a gambling operation in her house takes pride in destroying the men she ensnares in her net. One of these men's wives (played by Bebe Daniels) will not let ... See full summary »

Director: Lowell Sherman | Stars: Bebe Daniels, Kenneth Thomson, Lowell Sherman, Olive Tell

Votes: 8

33. Leathernecking (1930)

79 min | Comedy, Musical, Romance

Film version of the 1928 Rodgers and Hart Broadway musical "Present Arms" concerning Chick Evans, a Marine private in Honolulu who falls for society girl Delphine Witherspoon, and begins to... See full summary »

Director: Edward F. Cline | Stars: Irene Dunne, Ken Murray, Louise Fazenda, Ned Sparks

Votes: 16

34. Letter of Introduction (1938)

Approved | 104 min | Comedy, Drama

An aging actor, about to marry for the fourth time, is surprised when a young woman, who is the daughter he never knew he had, appears with a "letter of introduction". It seems that she is ... See full summary »

Director: John M. Stahl | Stars: Adolphe Menjou, Andrea Leeds, George Murphy, Edgar Bergen

Votes: 254

35. The Little Princess (1939)

Approved | 93 min | Comedy, Drama, Family

A little girl is left by her father in an exclusive seminary for girls, due to her father having to go to South Africa to fight in the Second Boer War.

Directors: Walter Lang, William A. Seiter | Stars: Shirley Temple, Richard Greene, Anita Louise, Ian Hunter

Votes: 4,739

36. The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

Not Rated | 72 min | Comedy, Horror

A clumsy young man nurtures a plant and discovers that it's carnivorous, forcing him to kill to feed it.

Directors: Roger Corman, Charles B. Griffith, Mel Welles | Stars: Jonathan Haze, Jackie Joseph, Mel Welles, Dick Miller

Votes: 13,792 | Gross: $1.40M

37. Lonely Wives (1931)

85 min | Comedy

A lonely husband, whose wife has been away, hires a look-a-like impersonator to fill his place and fool his mother-in-law while he plays around with a pretty coquette. His wife returns that night and confusion prevails.

Director: Russell Mack | Stars: Edward Everett Horton, Esther Ralston, Laura La Plante, Patsy Ruth Miller

Votes: 260

38. Love Affair (1939)

Approved | 88 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

A French playboy and an American former nightclub singer fall in love aboard a ship. They arrange to reunite six months later, after he has had a chance to earn a decent living.

Director: Leo McCarey | Stars: Irene Dunne, Charles Boyer, Maria Ouspenskaya, Lee Bowman

Votes: 3,580

39. Babes in Toyland (1934)

Passed | 77 min | Comedy, Family, Fantasy

Opposing the evil Barnaby, Ollie Dee and Stanley Dum try and fail to pay-off Mother Peep's mortgage and mislead his attempts to marry Little Bo. Enraged, Barnaby's boogeymen are set on Toyland.

Directors: Gus Meins, Charley Rogers | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Virginia Karns, Charlotte Henry

Votes: 5,076

March of the Wooden Soldiers (1950) in the public domain. Babes in Toyland (1934) still in copyright.

40. McLintock! (1963)

Approved | 127 min | Comedy, Romance, Western

Wealthy rancher G.W. McLintock uses his power and influence in the territory to keep the peace between farmers, ranchers, land-grabbers, Indians and corrupt government officials.

Director: Andrew V. McLaglen | Stars: John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Patrick Wayne, Stefanie Powers

Votes: 10,518

41. Meet John Doe (1941)

Not Rated | 122 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

A man needing money agrees to impersonate a nonexistent person who said he'd be committing suicide as a protest, and a political movement begins.

Director: Frank Capra | Stars: Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward Arnold, Walter Brennan

Votes: 10,290

42. Millie (1931)

TV-G | 85 min | Drama, Romance

Millie's life begins to crumble when she finds out her husband is having an affair.

Director: John Francis Dillon | Stars: Helen Twelvetrees, Lilyan Tashman, Robert Ames, James Hall

Votes: 377

43. Mr. Imperium (1951)

Not Rated | 87 min | Drama, Musical, Romance

A beautiful singer/dancer turned actress and playboy crown prince turned monarch have their clandestine romance interfered with by their changing circumstances.

Director: Don Hartman | Stars: Lana Turner, Ezio Pinza, Marjorie Main, Barry Sullivan

Votes: 342

44. My Favorite Brunette (1947)

Approved | 87 min | Comedy, Crime, Mystery

Shortly before his execution on the death row in San Quentin, amateur sleuth and baby photographer Ronnie Jackson, tells reporters how he got there.

Director: Elliott Nugent | Stars: Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour, Peter Lorre, Lon Chaney Jr.

Votes: 2,444

45. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Not Rated | 96 min | Horror

87 Metascore

There is panic throughout the nation as the dead suddenly come back to life. The film follows a group of characters who barricade themselves in an old farmhouse in an attempt to remain safe from these bloodthirsty, flesh-eating monsters.

Director: George A. Romero | Stars: Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, Karl Hardman, Marilyn Eastman

Votes: 98,663 | Gross: $0.09M

46. Nothing Sacred (1937)

Approved | 77 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

An eccentric woman learns she is not dying of radium poisoning as earlier assumed, but when she meets a reporter looking for a story, she feigns sickness again for her own profit.

Director: William A. Wellman | Stars: Carole Lombard, Fredric March, Charles Winninger, Walter Connolly

Votes: 5,004

47. Of Human Bondage (1934)

Not Rated | 83 min | Drama, Romance

A young man finds himself attracted to a cold and unfeeling waitress who may ultimately destroy them both.

Director: John Cromwell | Stars: Bette Davis, Leslie Howard, Frances Dee, Kay Johnson

Votes: 5,021

48. The Outlaw (1943)

Approved | 116 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

Western legends Pat Garrett, Doc Holliday and Billy the Kid are played against each other over the law and the attentions of vivacious country vixen Rio McDonald.

Directors: Howard Hughes, Howard Hawks | Stars: Jack Buetel, Thomas Mitchell, Jane Russell, Walter Huston

Votes: 3,276

49. The Painted Hills (1951)

Approved | 68 min | Family, Western

An intrepid dog comes to the rescue when a boy's life is put at risk by the greed inflamed by a gold strike.

Director: Harold F. Kress | Stars: Pal, Paul Kelly, Bruce Cowling, Gary Gray

Votes: 826

50. The Pay-Off (1930)

65 min | Crime, Drama

A thug robs a young engaged couple of their last few dollars. When the thug's gang boss hears of the robbery, he gives them back their money and takes them under his wing. The thug, ... See full summary »

Director: Lowell Sherman | Stars: Lowell Sherman, Marian Nixon, Hugh Trevor, George F. Marion

Votes: 180

51. The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

Not Rated | 93 min | Horror

7.7