In the course of putting together a Pratt Library guide to the best web resources for watching full-length feature movies, I was surprised to find that so many great classic films by critically acclaimed directors are available to download or watch online for free. Read the guide here.
Some of these films (like Orson Welles’s rare Shakespeare adaptation Chimes At Midnight) have either never been commercially available on DVD or are only available in pricey DVD editions. All of the films listed below have either entered the public domain (which means they are completely legal to download, screen, or watch online for free) or are offered in versions licensed for free viewing on sites like YouTube, Google, Hulu, Open Culture or the Internet Archive.
While some of these films can be checked out from Pratt’s Sights & Sounds collection, this list provides a “backup plan” for watching these great films in case a title is currently unavailable. All you need is a computer, TV, or mobile device with an Internet connection and you’re set to watch free classic movies right now without having to register an account, download a player, or worry about due dates and late fees! Simply click on the highlighted links that follow to view these free cinematic gems.
Remember, this just a sampling of what's out there on the web. Good resources for further exploring are the web sites Open Culture (which lists 500 Free Movies Online and links to other free movie sites) and WhatCulture.com's 10 Little Known Classics You Need To Watch!
- Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless (1960) | Watch now (Google Video)
- Powell & Pressburger’s Stairway To Heaven (aka A Matter of Life and Death, 1946) | Watch now (Classic Cinema Online)
- Fritz Lang’s M (1931) | Watch now (Openflix, YouTube)
- F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu (1922) | Watch now (YouTube)
- Luis Bunuel’s L’Age d’Or (1930) | Watch now (YouTube)
- Jacques Demy’s The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) | Watch now (YouTube)
- Jean Cocteau’s Blood of a Poet (1932) | Watch now (YouTube)
- Carl Theodor Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928, Vimeo) and Vampyr (1932, YouTube)
- Josef von Sternberg’s The Blue Angel (1930) | Watch now (YouTube)
- 3 Charlie Chaplin silent classics (YouTube): | City Lights (1931, YouTube), The Gold Rush (1925, YouTube), Modern Times (1936, YouTube)
- 3 Russian masterpieces by Andrey Tarkovsky: | Solaris (Google Video), Stalker (YouTube) and The Mirror (You Tube)
Film Noir Classics
- Fritz Lang’s The Big Heat (1953) | Watch now (YouTube)
- Joseph Lewis’s The Big Combo (1955)| Watch Now (Internet Archive)
- Stanley Kubrick’s Killer’s Kiss (1955) | Watch now (DailyMotion)
- Edgar G. Ulmar’s Detour (1945) | Watch now (Internet Archive)
- Roger Corman’s The Terror (1963) | Watch now (Internet Archive)
- John Sayles’s The Brother from Another Planet (1984) | Watch now (YouTube)
- Charles Brown’s The Wild, Wild World of Jayne Mansfield (1968) | Watch now (YouTube)
- Curtis Hansen’s Night Tide (1961) | Watch now
- George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968) | Watch now (YouTube)
- Herk Harvey's Carnival of Souls (1962) | Watch now (Internet Archive)
- Jose Mojica Marins's At Midnight I Will Take Your Soul (1963) | Watch now (Retrovision.tv)
- Georges Franju's Eyes Without a Face (1962) | Watch now (YouTube)
- 3 crazy '60s Japanese sci-fi movies starring superhero Starman: Attack from Space, Evil Brain from Outer Space and Atomic Rulers of the World (Retrovision.tv)
- The Times of Harvey Milk (1984) - "Best Documentary" Oscar winner | Watch now (YouTube)
- Morgan Spurlock's Oscar-nominated Super Size Me (2004) | Watch now (SnagFilms)