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13 Great Silent Films Available Streaming On HBO Max

Charlie Chaplin in City Lights
(Image credit: United Artists)

Charlie Chaplin, Louise Brooks, and Harold Lloyd were just a few of the major stars of early Hollywood and the silent film era, who became sensations around the world thanks to their innate ability to express a wide range of emotions through physical acting (and physical comedy). But, with that era long gone and some of the silent films all but forgotten by a large portion of moviegoers, it’s important that we remember those icons and their greatest films.

Lucky for us, there are a ton of great silent movies on HBO Max. Sometimes, though, locating those films, and other titles in the Turner Classic Movies hub, is hard to do. Fear not, because we have put together a list of 13 great silent films if you have long desired to check them out.

Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times

(Image credit: United Artists)

Modern Times (1936)

One of the most beloved silent films, Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 masterpiece, Modern Times, follows the Tramp (Chaplin) as he tries to make sense of a technologically-advanced world and stay out of prison, though he achieves neither. 

Over the course of the movie, it is easy to see why Chaplin remains so revered in Hollywood, whether it was due to his unique form of physical comedy or the way in which he pulls off more tender moments, like his numerous run-ins with the young orphaned girl Ellen Peterson (Paulette Goddard) throughout the thrilling comedy.

Stream Modern Times on HBO Max.

Renée Jeanne Falconetti in The Passion of Joan of Arc

(Image credit: Société Générale des Films)

The Passion Of Joan Of Arc (1927)

There is nothing funny about Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1928 silent historical drama, The Passion of Joan of Arc, as the dramatic title (and the image featured above) suggests. Often considered one of the greatest films of all time, the movie follows Joan of Arc (Renée Jeanne Falconetti) as she is captured, tried, and convicted of heresy and prepared to be burnt at the stake. 

The writing, direction, acting, and decision to film mostly in close-ups are all incredible (and incredibly influential), and make it seem like the movie was released far more recently than the late 1920s.

Stream The Passion of Joan of Arc on HBO Max.

Louise Brooks in Pandora's Box

(Image credit: Süd-Film)

Pandora's Box (1929)

G.W. Pabst’s groundbreaking 1929 silent film, Pandora’s Box, centers on Lulu (Louise Brooks), a young woman who uses her looks and charm to wrap men up in her web and get what she wants from them. But, when her ambition gets the best of her, Lulu is forced to face the consequences for her actions, one way or another. 

Louise Brooks and her depiction of Lulu is enough to make Pandora’s Box a must-watch, even if you aren’t a fan of silent movies. The way she brings her character to life will make you fall as quickly as the men in her life.

Stream Pandora’s Box on HBO Max.

The moon in A Trip to the Moon

(Image credit: Star Film Company)

A Trip To The Moon (1902)

Written and directed by the legendary French filmmaker Georges Méliès, A Trip to the Moon follows a group of astronomers as they set off the explore the lunar surface by using a capsule powered by a cannon. Loosely inspired by several Jules Verne novels, including From the Earth to the Moon and Around the World, Méliès' 1902 silent film has gone on to influence filmmakers, musicians, and artists over the past 100-plus years, and remains an enchanting treat for fans of the sci-fi genre.

Stream A Trip to the Moon on HBO Max.

The sun in The Impossible Voyage

(Image credit: Star Film Company)

The Impossible Voyage (1904)

In 1904, George Méliès would take inspiration from Jules Verne once again for the hilarious sci-fi satire film, The Impossible Voyage. Loosely based on Journey Through the Impossible, the movie centers on a group of explorers as they set their sights on the sky. But instead of reaching for the Moon, the group attempts to reach the surface of the Sun. More over-the-top than its predecessor, The Impossible Voyage is a tremendous exploration of humor, science, and the impossible.

Stream The Impossible Voyage on HBO Max.

Harold Lloyd in Safety Last!

(Image credit: Pathé Exchange)

Safety Last! (1923)

Directed by Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor, the 1923 silent film Safety Last!, follows The Boy (Harold Floyd) as he sets off for the big city in hopes of making enough money support him and his girlfriend, whom he hopes to marry. Big city life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and the silent hero finds that out through various interactions and incidents.

Safety Last! features one of the most iconic shots of all time with Harold Lloyd hanging from a clock high above the the city streets. That stunt and various others featured throughout this hilarious comedy make the movie so well regarded even nearly a century after its release.

Stream Safety Last! on HBO Max.

Ivor Novello in The Lodger: A Story Of The London Fog

(Image credit: Woolf & Freedman Film Service)

The Lodger: A Story Of The London Fog (1927)

One of Alfred Hitchcock’s earliest films, the 1927 silent film The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog is largely based on the story of Jack the Ripper, a vicious serial killer who terrorized the city’s Whitechapel district in the late 19th Century. The movie offers various perspectives, including the quiet and mysterious man believed to be the killer and his landlady, who grows increasingly suspicious of her new tenant and his nighttime activities.

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog is worth watching for the story alone, but fans of Alfred Hitchcock and his signature filmmaking techniques will enjoy this, especially. This tense thriller with its exaggerated camera angles, moody lighting, and talented cast, is truly something to behold.

Stream The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog on HBO Max.

Charlie Chaplin in The Gold Rush

(Image credit: United Artists)

The Gold Rush (1925)

Another Charlie Chaplin classic, the 1925 silent film, The Gold Rush, centers on the actor’s beloved character the Tramp (this time in the role of a gold prospector) as he looks to make a fortune in Alaska. The road to becoming a millionaire isn’t nearly as easy as the Tramp believes and he quickly finds himself in a heap of trouble and dangerous situations.

There’s a case to be made for The Gold Rush being one of the best movies of all time, and if someone were willing to die on that hill (or sit in a cabin teetering on the edge of that mountain) they’d have good reason to do so. The movie plays like a greatest hits of memorable Charlie Chaplin moments, especially those where he makes a shoe look like a delicacy and that whole business where the cabin is falling off the mountain.

Stream The Gold Rush on HBO Max.

Nicolas de Gunzburg in Vampyr

(Image credit: Vereinigte Star-Film)

Vampyr (1932)

Though not as well remembered as Nosferatu or Dracula, Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1932 silent horror film, Vampyr, is a great early example of the genre. The movie follows a young occult-obsessed wanderer named Allan Gray (Nicolas de Gunzburg) who travels to a small French town just as strange events begin to take place and people begin falling ill from mysterious bites.

Vampyr is a slow-burner, atmospheric horror film that is a must-watch for fans of the genre. It’s rather short at just 73 minutes, but manages to sneak in a great deal of tension, terror, and drama that has an almost dreamlike quality to it.

Stream Vampyr on HBO Max.

Ann Christy and Harold Lloyd in Speedy

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Speedy (1928)

When his girlfriend’s family’s horse-drawn trolley business is threatened by a crooked and greedy competitor, Harold “Speedy” Swift (Harold Lloyd) takes matters into his own hands to get back the stolen streetcar. What follows is a mad dash around New York City, where Speedy visits the biggest attractions and meets its biggest heroes, like Babe Ruth.

Ted Wilde’s 1928 silent film, Speedy, is one of the funniest silent films, and it’s worth watching for that reason alone. The film is also of note because it would be Harold Lloyd’s final silent movie, as he shifted over to speaking roles the following year.

Stream Speedy on HBO Max.

A Woman Of Paris (1923)

(Image credit: United Artists)

A Woman Of Paris (1923)

The 1923 silent drama, A Woman of Paris, which was written, directed, and scored by Charlie Chaplin (though he’s not featured as an actor), tells the heartbreaking story of Marie St. Clair (Edna Purviance), a young woman who sets off for the “City of Lights” for a new life. She finds luxuries and pleasures upon adopting the big city life, but Marie’s past comes calling, leading to disaster.

When you see the name “Charlie Chaplin” planted on a movie poster, you immediately think you’re about to watch a comedy. A Woman of Paris couldn’t be further from that as it is a dark and unsettling romantic drama that shakes you to your core.

Stream A Woman of Paris on HBO Max.

Charles Chaplin and Virginia Cherrill in City Lights

(Image credit: United Artists)

City Lights (1931)

One of the best romantic comedies of all time, City Lights follows Charlie Chaplins’ the Tramp as he falls in love with a blind flower girl (Virginia Cherrill) and does everything in his power to make a better life for her.

Another superb addition to Charlie Chaplin’s impressive filmography, City Lights is also one of his most charming. There is something about the character that works well as a hapless romantic, and that is seen in this movie better than just about anywhere else.

Stream City Lights on HBO Max.

Berlin: Symphony Of A Great City

(Image credit: Fox Film Corporation)

Berlin: Symphony Of A Great City (1927)

Walter Ruttmann’s 1927 silent film, Berlin: Symphony of a Great City, doesn’t have a narrative structure and instead is edited to make it seem like a single day passing in the German capital. Described as “city symphony” style documentary, the movie shows people from all walks of life and various locations throughout the city as it looked just a few years before Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party rose to power.

Stream Berlin: Symphony of a Great City on HBO Max.

These are just a dozen or so of the great silent movies on HBO Max. If you liked these recommendations, you should totally go explore the vast library of silent films on the streaming service (check the Turner Classic Movies hub for some great titles). But, since you're here, go ahead and check out our list of the best movies on HBO Max

Philip Sledge
Philip Sledge

Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.