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Deliberatepixel / Great Public Domain Movies Online

Great Public Domain Movies Online

In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias ...I've been floundering with Filmtalk a bit recently, mostly because my movie intake has suffered from extra work and rent-by-mail issues. Turner Classic Movies naming of Katharine Hepburn their star of the month has helped considerably (Stage Door one night + Woman of the Year the next = great happiness). But to keep up somehow, I've put together a list of movies in the public domain you can watch free online. Of course, quality is a lot better if you get the remastered DVDs, but these will do in a pinch.

  • The Third Man - Do I talk about this movie enough? For all intents and purposes, it's my favorite. I've known it was in the public domain, because in high school the only copy of it I could afford was a generic VHS tape. This video file looks like it was taken from that same tape. But it's such a fantastic movie, it doesn't matter as much. And if you like it, you can snap up the new release of it that's coming out shortly. The copyright on this was renewed and its no longer in the public domain. Buy or rent a copy anyway - it's worth it.
  • Meet John Doe - From probably my favorite movie to probably my favorite director. This is the first of Frank Capra's "social justice" trilogy that rounded out with Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. I've always loved Meet John Doe because of Barbara Stanwyck's spirited performance.
  • His Girl Friday - Perfect, smart, fast-paced screwball comedy. It's all good.
  • M - This one's a German movie about a pedophilic serial killer stalking the streets of Berlin. So, in other words, not exactly light viewing. It's worth it, though. There's also a lot of interesting backstory about the Nazi atmosphere in which Jewish director Lang made the film, if you're so inclined to look it up after watching.
  • Freaks - This is the very definition of a "cult classic," not to mention a pretty good example what a true horror film is.
  • Detour - This is often called the first proper "film noir." First or not, it's a pitch-perfect example of the genre. Film noir just happens to be my absolute favorite genre. Therefore, I enjoy this film immensely.

The compendium I've from which I've linked all these choices is here, and there are a lot of other selections. However, some of these are not explicitly public domain, such as Monty Python and Sid and Nancy, so they could be pulled at any time. But it's an useful resource nonetheless. It's also a good way to check out some classics without investing a lot or time or money. Then you can name-drop the titles of what you've been watching lately, and, at the very least, I'll be impressed



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