Best Pre-1930s Films

The 1920s saw the emergence of film as a popular medium, and launched the glamor of Hollywood in the public consciousness. Enjoy this timeline of the best pre-1930s films.

What’s on this Best pre-1930s Films Timeline?

The 1920s could be considered the age when Hollywood and film truly became a part of our culture, expanding as a subgroup out of theatre, but becoming its own thing. This timeline includes some of the most iconic and popular films from that decade, as well as a few important selections from the years before. This begins with “The Horse in Motion” which many consider to be the first motion picture ever. We make our selections based on popularity, the iconic factor, their influence, and two films that were the first winners of Best Picture (Wings, and The Broadway Melody).

While these film timelines will not usually include a lot of short films, we’ve made an exception in this case for some of the most innovative and influential of those videos. They provide a unique history lesson.

As always, if you see something you think we should add or change, give us a shout out in the comment section below. And if you liked this timeline, you might want to continue with our Best 1930s timeline.

1BuyThe Horse in MotionShort FilmEadweard Muybridge1878-06-15Pre-1930s
2Roundhay Garden SceneShort FilmLouis Le Prince1888-10-14Pre-1930s
3BuyAnna Belle Serpentine DanceShort FilmWilliam K.L. Dickson, William Heise1894-08-10Pre-1930sOne of the first films to use color, rotoscoped in frame by frame.
4Arrival of a TrainShort FilmAuguste Lumière, Louis Lumière1896-01-25Pre-1930sSource of the urban myth that, when the film was first shown, the audience was so overwhelmed by the moving image of a life-sized train coming directly at them that people screamed and ran to the back fo the room.
5The Haunted CastleShort FilmGeorges Méliès1896-12-01Pre-1930s
6BuyA Trip to the MoonShort FilmGeorges Méliès1902-10-04Pre-1930sPioneer in special effects.
7The Great Train RobberyShort FilmEdwin S. Porter1903-12-01Pre-1930s
8BuyThe Birth of a NationFilmD. W. Griffith1915-02-08Pre-1930s
9BuyCabinet of Dr. CaligariFilmRobert Wiene1920-02-26Pre-1930s
10BuyThe Mark of ZorroFilmFred Niblo1920-11-27Pre-1930s
11BuyThe KidFilmCharlie Chaplin1921-02-06Pre-1930s
12BuyNosferatuFilmF. W. Murnau1922-03-04Pre-1930s
13BuyHunchback of Notre Dame (1923)FilmWallace Worsley1923-09-02Pre-1930s
14BuyThief of BagdadFilmRaoul Walsh1924-03-18Pre-1930s
15BuySherlock Jr.FilmBuster Keaton1924-04-21Pre-1930s
16BuyGreedFilmErich von Stroheim1924-12-04Pre-1930s
17BuyPeter PanFilmHerbert Brenon1924-12-29Pre-1930s
18BuyThe Lost WorldFilmHarry O. Hoyt1925-02-02Pre-1930s
19BuyThe Gold RushFilmCharlie Chaplin1925-06-26Pre-1930s
20The Pleasure GardenFilmAlfred Hitchcock1925-11-03Pre-1930s
21BuyPhantom of the OperaFilmRupert Julian1925-11-25Pre-1930s
22BuyBattleship PotemkinFilmSergei Eisenstein1925-12-21Pre-1930s
23BuyBen-Hur: A Tale of ChristFilmFred Niblo1925-12-30Pre-1930s
24BuyThe GeneralFilmClyde Bruckman, Buster Keaton1926-12-31Pre-1930s
25BuyMetropolisFilmFritz Lang1927-01-10Pre-1930s
26BuyThe LodgerFilmAlfred Hitchcock1927-02-14Pre-1930s
277th HeavenFilmFrank Borzage1927-05-06Pre-1930s
28BuyWingsFilmWilliam A. Wellman1927-08-12Pre-1930s
29BuySunrise: A Song of Two HumansFilmF. W. Murnau1927-09-23Pre-1930s
30BuyThe Jazz SingerFilmAlan Crosland1927-10-06Pre-1930s
31BuyThe Passion of Joan of ArcFilmCarl Theodor Dreyer1928-04-21Pre-1930s
32BuyThe Man Who LaughsFilmPaul Leni1928-04-27Pre-1930s
33BuyThe CameramanFilmEdward Sedgwick, Buster Keaton1928-09-22Pre-1930s
34Steamboat WillieShort FilmWalt Disney, Ub Iwerks1928-11-18Pre-1930s
35BuyMan with a Movie CameraFilmDziga Vertov1929-01-08Pre-1930s
36BuyPandora's BoxFilmG. W. Pabst1929-01-30Pre-1930s
37BuyAn Andalusian DogFilmLuis Buñuel1929-06-06Pre-1930s
38BuyThe Broadway MelodyFilmHarry Beaumont1929-06-12Pre-1930s
39BuyBlackmailFilmAlfred Hitchcock1929-07-28Pre-1930s
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