What can be more fun than watching an old classic like Some Like It Hot with a loved one on a weekend?
Some will argue that when you watch a movie like that the setting, timing, or company for that matter is insignificant, but to each his own.
If there is one thing better than watching classic movies, it’s watching your all-time favorites online, and for free! Of course, today there’s no shortage of diversity in ways to watch a film. Cable TV, Netflix, online streaming services — caught in the middle of all that we forget that there’s a free option called public domain movies.
What Is a Public Domain Film?
Public domain films are simply movies that don’t have any form of licenses or copyrights attached to them. It could be a film released to public domain by its author, or a film with expired copyright.
As these movies are public property, they can be freely shared. In the U.S., all motion pictures made and exhibited before 1923 are in the public domain. For any work made after that date, see the list of films in the public domain in the United States.
Where to Stream Public Domain Movies
Now that you have the names of the public domain movies in the US you can search for any of those films and find where to download them or stream online.
However, we decided to make your life easier with a list of some of the best web resources where you can find your favorite timely classics and watch them online for free.
This platform presents to you a large collection of “the highest rated old movies” available to watch online for free, as well as some of the most iconic old TV series.
Old Movie Time lets you choose your movie by genre (action, western, comedy, war etc.) and provides a little intro and IMDb score for each film. The content itself is embedded from YouTube.
You can also browse through the complete list of the films available on the website, sorted by year (1931 to 1969) and IMDb rating.
If Old Movie Time covers a little over 30 years of cinematography, this website offers a much broader film selection from a bigger period.
Also, sorted by genre, Classic Movies EZ makes it truly easy for you to search for public domain movies that have already become classics but aren’t exactly that old yet. That way you can find films from 80s, 90s, and even early 2000s on the platform.
Even though classic movies is only a category on this website, it has plenty of motion pictures to start you off on your cinematographic journey through time. There are a little over 70 movies presented on this resource, but they are the crème de la crème of the old classics that will make you want to come back for more. Because who doesn’t like watching
There are a little over 70 movies presented on this resource, but they are crème de la crème of the old classics that will make you want to come back for more. Because who doesn’t like watching Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant run around Paris hunting for her husband’s stolen fortune?
Meet Jimbo Berkey, a guy with “a passion for the first recorded media of the modern era”. His mission is to collect and preserve on his website any media samples recorded from 1895 to 1970. On his Free Classic Movies website, you’ll find public domain films that you can search by title, name of actor, or year. Under the “Star Stories” category you’ll find memories of and about movie actors shared by their relatives and fans.
Uncle Earl’s Classic Television Channel is a public library that features free classic television programs and movies collected by “hundreds of contributors”. The library consists of over 25,000 titles and is managed by the librarian, Earl Oliver.
You can search the Uncle Earl’s movie library by title, genre, and even by actor’s name.
According to the website, on Public Domain Comedy you can find not everything, but “the best public domain comedy video”. Devoted to all things in the comedy genre, the platform has a variety of sections. It allows you to search your videos by title, type, and theme (Halloween, winter, or a curious section called “unintentionally funny”).
The resource is perfect for the fans of classic comedy everything: from video clips to feature movies, to cartoons and radio shows. And don’t forget to check out their impressive Silent Movies section.
Our last pick is Big Five Glories. A website for those who prefer doing their movie search in style. Any classic lover is guaranteed to enjoy the platform’s retro-style design and easy to use structure.
You can search the site’s content by titles, user rating, genre, as well as the year it was made. There’s also a special section for silent and color movies.
We have previously written about other resources that you can use to watch your favorite classic movies online, such as Internet Archive, Classic Cinema Online, Black and White Movies, and Movies Found Online.
Aside from those, classic movies can also be found on Vimeo and YouTube. You can watch over 100 public domain movies for free on YouTube. The numbers are similar on Vimeo: you can search your favorite old movies by titles or under the tag “classic movies”.
What Else Is There?
Several of the websites mentioned on this list focus on more than one type of public domain media. Some of them cover movies and radio shows, others are centered around films and music. Truth is, there is a lot more out there.
Open Culture is a web hub dedicated to free media related to culture and education. You can not only find old classic movies but also enjoy free audio books, ebooks, online courses and other stuff.
If you want to explore the world of public domain media a little further or are looking to find free media pieces, check out these sources for public domain music, websites for free images and stock photos, as well as this site for free public domain audiobooks.
Find and Watch Your Favorites
Now that we’ve enabled you with this knowledge and diversity of options, it’s time for you to go back… to the past and dive into the world of retro cinematography.
Which film will you begin with? What’s your favorite genre when it comes to old classics? Do you ever browse your movies by actor names? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!