Public Domainia: Films
March 10, 2008 8:26 AM   Subscribe

Weirdest and wildest films in the public domain.

I'm working on a project that involves reviewing public domain films, and I'm looking for your favorites. Special focus on horror, science fiction, bizarre crime films, exploitation, and experimental films. If they are available online, even better, and links would be welcome.
posted by Astro Zombie to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Have you been to ubuweb?
posted by ob at 8:41 AM on March 10, 2008

Well, Night of the Living Dead.
posted by futility closet at 8:55 AM on March 10, 2008

Night of the Living Dead?
posted by adamrice at 8:55 AM on March 10, 2008

Well, here's a list of 10 brilliant/famous/whatever complete movies available online.
posted by mismatched at 8:59 AM on March 10, 2008

I assume you know about's Moving Image Archive?
posted by fings at 9:04 AM on March 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Primarily I'm looking for suggestions for specific films.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:11 AM on March 10, 2008

The Last Man on Earth- Starring Vincent Price. Should be quite popular vs. the currently running I Am Legend.
posted by Gungho at 9:20 AM on March 10, 2008

You're probably already familiar with it, but I absolutely love Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.'s turn as detective Coke Ennyday in The Mystery of the Leaping Fish. Being from 1916, if you can get your hands on a print that hasn't had new rights attached it qualifies as public domain. Certainly it's a bit experimental and definitely it's bizarre crime. You can watch it on YouTube, but I see that version claims a 2003 copyright for restoration work.
posted by mumkin at 9:28 AM on March 10, 2008

Un Chien Andalou is a short film that was co-created by Salavador Dali. As you're expect from Dali, it's very, very strange.
posted by Nelsormensch at 9:31 AM on March 10, 2008

Have you looked at this? Wikipedia's list of public domain films

Reefer Madness (1936) is on that list.

And sure as shine on a shoe, it's on Youtube. Tell Your Children!

(Un Chien Andalou is on there too, on this user's youtube page. Dunno if it's public domain, though.)
posted by not_on_display at 10:03 PM on March 10, 2008

(Plan 9 from Outer Space (Ed Wood) is also on the Wiki list, and so is A Night at the Opera (Marx Bros)... there are many more that probably fit the bill and are on YouTube, but I'd be wary of what films that are on the list are actually in the public domain; the list seems like a good base to start, though. I think some Chaoplin films may be too, but now I'm straying way off your original criteria.
posted by not_on_display at 10:08 PM on March 10, 2008

Tragically, Vincent Price's masterful performance in The Tingler is not yet in the public domain. :(
posted by Deathalicious at 10:20 PM on March 10, 2008

Aelita: Queen of Mars is listed as public domain.
Though the main focus of the story is the daily lives of a small group of people during the post-war Soviet Union, the enduring importance of the film comes from its early science fiction elements. It primarily tells of a young man, Loss, traveling to Mars in a rocket ship, where he leads a popular uprising against the king, with the support of Queen Aelita who has fallen in love with him after watching him through a telescope.
I have uploaded a 6-minute clip to my blog - if you forgive the self-link - and it definitely qualifies as wierd and wild.
posted by kolophon at 10:26 AM on March 13, 2008

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