New Blog Post

This is a big ol' list of the public domain movies I watched this year, with links and short reviews or descriptions.

If you find it useful, I'd love to know.

If you have questions, or comments, this is the place for them.

If you notice problems, I accept PRs (on github, at the moment, but we'll fix that eventually.)

This was fun to put together, and it covers every (public domain) movie I watched on the big screen at home this year.

It doesn't include the stuff I watched on my palm pilot, the movies we watched while we were in GA, or the stuff that I just streamed, which amounts to another 30-40 flicks or so.

I'll probably write those up tomorrow, and follow that up with a TV writeup one day next week.

This doesn't even begin to cover all the available PD material (or even all the PD material in my library!) but it approximates a good introduction, and a solid year's worth of entertainment.

Alright. Starting my second list of 2019 public domain movies consumption now.

I'll do it the same way as the last one (cw'd posts here, followed by a blog post.)

Hold on to your butts.

More PD Movies I watched in 2019 

By Who's Hand (1932) - The police are transporting a witness by train, but the witness gets bumped off, and a locked room mystery ensues. Starts a little slow, but really picks up by the end. Recommended.

The Curse of the Faceless Man (1958) - The narration is a little heavy, but the story of a mummy animated by the fires of Pompeii is pretty good, and there are some tense moments. If you like universal horror movies, and want another one, this is almost it.

More PD Movies I watched in 2019 

A bunch of George Melies shorts. Like, way too many. (1890 - 1915?) - I don't really know what to say here. It's unfair to lump all these together, but most of them are less than 5 minutes long, so they are getting lumped together. Melies invented modern cinema. He created special effects. He made some of the first narrative films. Some of them are really good.

Specifically: The Astronomer's Dream, A Trip to the Moon, The fantastic voyage.

More PD Movies I watched in 2019 

The Bold Caballero (1936) - Zorro! With Sound, and in color! I really loved this movie, and I wish that we had a better transfer of it.

The Invisible Ray (1936) - Karlof and Lugasi square off in this weirdly cerebral and emotional horror flick. It would probably be really good if not for all the scenes in "Africa" as imagined by white people in the 30s.

The Cook (1918) - Fatty Arbuckle and Buster Keaton in this half hour silent short. It's not bad.

More PD Movies I watched in 2019 

The Green Hornet (1940) - A film serial! 13 chapters of roughly 20 minutes each. The green Hornet investigates a series of crimes he believes are related. It's kids stuff, but it's pretty good. (available prints are garbage)

The Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941) - Another Serial! How did Billy Bastion get the power of Shazam? Find out here. (recently released in HD by the Criterion collection. Often called the best cliffhanger serial of all time.)

More PD Movies I watched in 2019 

The Green Hornet Strikes Again (1941) - Another serial. Very similar to the first Green Hornet. This one is about a protection racket, IIRC. I remember enjoying it, but I don't remember much else.

Inner Sanctum (1948) - A psychic man on a train tells a woman a story about events that have happened (or will happen?) at the next train station. Clever, well paced. Spooky.

More PD Movies I watched in 2019 

H. G. Wells' Things to Come- Welles tells a story of future generations torn apart by war and ignorance, until scientists with airplanes save the day. And then fast forwards again, to show the rise of ignorance again.

Apparently this film has had it's copyright status restored in the US because of the 1996 URAA agreements, and that's some bullshit. It's still widely available from places distributing public domain material, and it's pretty good.

More PD Movies I watched in 2019 

The Spider's Web (1938) - Another cliffhanger serial! This one stars The Spider, who has in recent years become my favorite pulp hero. This tones down the spider a touch, but not an excessive amount. I found it really enjoyable (even if the available transfer is a little soft and low res.)

The copyright on this one is disputed. I have personally been unable to find a renewal, but I haven't looked super hard.

More PD Movies I watched in 2019 

Warning from Space (1956) - I don't know what to say about this one. It's a Japanese Monster Movie, but it's ... weirder and less coherent than other entries in to that genre. There are starfish men. It's fun.

A Message from Mars (1913) - The first British Scifi Flick! It's kind of a take on A Christmas Carol, in that a cranky dude is shown the error of his ways by a seemingly supernatural visitor. Silent (ofc), a tad slow, but worth watching.

More PD Movies I watched in 2019 

Night of the Living Dead (1968) - Not much needs to be said here. It's the prototypical zombie flick. Suspenseful and spooky.

Dick Tracy meets Gruesome (1947) - Borris Karloff stars in this one, it's my favorite (and the last) of the Dick Tracey flicks of the 40s.

Dick Tracy vs Cueball (1946) - Another Tracy flick. This one isn't great, but it's not *that* bad.


More PD Movies I watched in 2019 

Dick Tracy's Dilemma (1947) - Another Tracy winner. Not as good as Gruesome, IMO, but much better than cueball.

Dick Tracy (1937) - a 15-chapter film serial, and the best screen outing of the character, IMO. (In this, he fights a master criminal known as The Spider, no relation to The Spider mentioned previously.)

More PD Movies I watched in 2019 

Robot Monster (1953) - ... I don't really know what to say about this movie. It's ridiculous. It's self defeating. It's funny when it should not be. I put the poster on t-shirt, and I wear it proudly.

More PD Movies I watched in 2019 

The Phantom Planet (1961) -
A reasonably well produced science fiction film, with decent action and okay special effects, ultimately let down a little by a tiny budget. The plot concerns an astronaut, somehow miniaturized on an alien world.

The acting is mostly excellent, with a handful of heavy hitters from television and early film, and some uneven performances from a handful of newcomers. Ultimately actually pretty good.

More PD Movies I watched in 2019 

The Phantom From Space (1953) - A generic 50s B-Movie. A lone invader menaces the people of Earth. Can our Heroes stop them in time? Or will they just keep running back and forth between rooms in their big observatory?

Honestly, it's a decent movie. Average, cheap, but well made and enjoyable.

The Curse of the Aztec Mummy (1957) - It's a mexican horror flick. It is okay. If you like horror movies, and you can tolerate some cheese, you'll probably dig it.

More PD Movies I watched in 2019 

Monster from a Prehistoric Planet AKA Gappa: The Triphibian Monster (1967) - Another Japanese monster movie. Allegedly it's super similar to a UK flick called Gorgo, but I haven't seen that. This one is pretty good. Better than it's current notoriety might have you believe.

Midnight AKA Call it Murder (1934) - it's an okay little crime flick that features Humphrey Bogart in a small but significant early role. Nothing super special, but not bad.

More PD Movies I watched in 2019 

Snowbeast (1977) - Wow, what a bad movie. It's a monster movie. It's about the yeti. It's just not very good at all.

Gangs, Inc. AKA Paper Bullets (1941) - Similar to midnight mentioned above, this okay crime film features Allan Ladd in a small but significant role fairly early in his career.

More PD Movies I watched in 2019 

The Lost World (1925) - This is an adaptation of an Arthur Conan Doyle story. It's about dinosaurs at the center of the earth. Good special effects for it's age, but a lot of racist garbage outside of that.

More PD Movies I watched in 2019 

I have a few more to talk about, but it's time for me to step away and take the dogs out, so I'm going to drop a list here and pick it back up later.

Flight Commander ( 1930) Aka The Dawn Patrol

Radar Men from the Moon

Men with Steel Faces (aka The Phantom Empire)


The Indestructible man

Sherlock Jr


The Black Pirate

The Last Man on Earth

The Iron Mask

Probably others, but that's enough for now.

(Back soon.)

More PD Movies I watched in 2019 

Picking this back up. ~10 or so to go.

More PD Movies I watched in 2019 

Flight Commander (1930) - AKA The Dawn Patrol. This stars Douglas Fairbanks. It was remade in '38 staring Errol Flynn. It's a WWI story, and it's not bad.

Radar Men from the Moon - Another film serial. This one features a man with a jetpack. It's honestly not among the best film serials, but I really enjoy the character.

Men with Steel Faces (aka The Phantom Empire) - This is just a worse, shorter edited version of The Phantom Empire.

More PD Movies I watched in 2019 

Suddenly - Stars Frank Sinatra. It's a solid little crime drama.

The Indestructible man - This is a solid B movie. Lon Chaney Jr. stars as a criminal who is executed, brought back to life, and made practically indestructible.

It's not too bad.

Sherlock Jr - This is a mid length film (45 minutes) from Buster Keaton. He plays a projectionist who falls asleep, and dreams he is Sherlock Holmes. It's pretty solid, IMO.

More PD Movies I watched in 2019 

Nosferatu - It's a silent film. It has all the problems that early silent films often have. It's also one of the creepiest horror films ever released.

I have to talk about this one a little more, because it exists in a really interesting space!

When it was released, Dracula was still under copyright, so this film was infringing on Dracula's copyright! A court ordered every copy of the movie destroyed.

More PD Movies I watched in 2019 

Most copies of the movie were destroyed, but a few survived, and it was eventually released in the US, and preserved for the future.

It's considered one of the most influential films of all time, and we almost lost it due to over aggressive copyright enforcement.

More PD Movies I watched in 2019 

The Black Pirate - Douglas Fairbanks. Silent. Early color film, which is neat. It's pretty okay. Not my favorite silent flick, but not at all bad.

The Last Man on Earth - This is supposed to be really good. I'm including it here because I've started watching it three time, but I have been interrupted each time. What I have seen has been really good, but I haven't been able to watch the whole thing yet.

More PD Movies I watched in 2019 

The Iron Mask - Another silent film, another period adventure. Among the better examples of that form.

More PD Movies I watched in 2019 

That's all for now, more later.

I have decided to watch the Phantom of the Opera tonight while the lady sleeps.

This is another of those big classics that I have never seen.

I wish there was a place where fit more naturally in the modern entertainment world, but it absolutely must be sought out. You're never going to catch one channel surfing, you know? And all the revival houses in the area only do talkies.

All these old Parisian gentlemen are walking around in cloaks.

Can we bring cloaks and capes back as fashion accessories in the Cyber 20s?

I'll wear a 3 piece suit every day, if it means I can get away with a cloak.

This set is massive. They keep doing these very wide shots that I half expect to be models or mattes and then having movement everywhere.

That makes sense. The phantom soundstage was the biggest in Hollywood for years. Space Patrol was shot on the phantom stage.

A surprising amount of the action in this film is conveyed in close-ups of letters.

I'm impressed that I can mostly read hundred year old cursive, considering how infrequently I've tried to read or write cursive in the last twenty years.

The camera that they used here has no depth of field. Everything is in focus. It's kind of neat, but it gives a very unnatural look to the scene (this is true of most silent films, but is especially prominent here owing to the large number of wide shots.)

I'm seeing lots of cinematographic techniques in use here that were almost certainly pioneered by this film. The use of light and shadow, characters in the foreground in silhouette, while characters in the background are fully lit.

It's no big thing today, but I have watched a lot of silent films recently and I have not seen this level skill used with light direction or camera work in other films of this era.

At least bit in America. Maybe in Germany, but I really consider German cinema to be its own animal at this time.

Show newer

More PD Movies I watched in 2019 

Interesting tidbit from imdb:

> This [film] features a superhero dressed like a masked professional wrestler. This predates the superhero/professional wrestler sub-genre that would become popular in Mexico during the 1960s. The el Angel of this film seems like a direct model for the el Santo films, complete with his nifty little white sports car.

Interresting... very interresting... :blobcatthinking2:

More PD Movies I watched in 2019 

@rick_777 That's why I watched it the first time, I was on an El Santo kick.

There's a recent sequel with a modern luchador.

@ajroach42 I used to wear a cloak in winter and I miss it a lot. So this thought comes up all the time.

@ajroach42 do you have a list of these #PublicDomain films? Do you know whether the particular restorations available are public domain too? We'd love to have more of these on

@strypey I have spent the last several days compiling a list of all the PD films I watched this year. I'm almost done.

I have many of them on the mastodon host peertube.

I'd be happy to get all of them on to vidcommons as well, I'm already in the matrix room.

More PD Movies I watched in 2019 

@ajroach42 I saw Gorgo because MST3k did it in their ... ninth(?) season. I have very little memory of it.

Sign in to participate in the conversation
R E T R O  S O C I A L

A social network for the 19A0s.