Greatest Films of the 1920s
Greatest Films of the 1920s

Greatest Films of the 1920s
1920 | 1921 | 1922 | 1923 | 1924 | 1925 | 1926 | 1927 | 1928 | 1929


Title Screen Film Genre(s), Title, Year, (Country), Length, Director, Description
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921)

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921), 130 minutes, D: Rex Ingram
Known as the film that raised Rudolph Valentino to stardom, in the role of an Argentinian lover/artist Julio who carried on an affair with Marguerite Laurier (Alice Terry), a lawyer's wife in France during World War I. Memorable for the visit of the Four Horsemen - war, conquest, famine, and death, causing Julio to join the war effort and suffer a sacrificial death. Known mostly for the scene of Valentino's sexy tango dance in a smoke-filled Argentinian cantina.

The Kid (1921)

The Kid (1921), 68 minutes, D: Charles Chaplin
Charlie Chaplin's classic of comedy and pathos, the first film that he wrote, produced, and directed. He plays The Little Tramp who discovered and rescued an abandoned, orphaned baby. He raised the child as his own son (Jackie Coogan), and resisted having the child taken away by orphanage officials. Later, the mother reappeared and demanded to have the baby back.

Orphans of the Storm (1921/22)

Orphans of the Storm (1921/22), 150 minutes, D: D.W. Griffith
Set against the backdrop of the French Revolution, the story of the misadventures of two young girls who were sisters. One was Louise (Dorothy Gish), the illegitimate child of a wealthy aristocratic family but abandoned, adopted and raised by a worker/commoner, and tragically blinded by the plague. The other sister was Henriette (Lillian Gish), the natural-born daughter of the commoner. Henriette brought her blind adopted sister to Paris for an operation to cure her blindness. But Henriette was kidnapped by wicked aristocrat Marquis de Praille, and blind Louise was taken in by Mother Frochard and a family of beggar thieves. In the melodramatic conclusion, Henriette was on her way to the guillotine to be beheaded during the Reign of Terror, when she was rescued and reunited with her sister and new aristocrat lover.

The Phantom Carriage (1921, Swe.) (aka Korkarlen), 93 minutes, D: Victor Sjostrom
The supernatural plot revolved around the ancient Scandinavian legend of 'The Phantom Coach and his Coachmen.' In accordance with the legend, the last sinner to die on the turn of the New Year became the soul collector, gathering souls in his coach. One of three drunkards in a cemetery, David Holm (co-writer and director Victor Sjostrom), died at the stroke of midnight and became the new Coachman (or Grim Reaper), replacing his old boozing pal Georges (Tore Svennberg) who died at the end of the previous year. In the simplistic morality tale, David relived his life and reflected on how self-destructive alcoholism had taken a toll on his failed and wasted life - as a result he reformed himself. Similar to It's a Wonderful Life (1946), and many iterations of Dickens' A Christmas Carol. With impressive technical effects (double-exposure, super-impositions) and haunting images.

The Sheik (1921)

The Sheik (1921), 80 minutes, D: George Melford
This film created a national phenomenon and Valentino became a great star. An exciting romantic drama starring Rudolph Valentino as Ahmed, the sexy desert Arab sheik, who abducted, charmed, and seduced sophisticated English woman Lady Diana Mayo (Agnes Ayres). He won her heart and then rode to her rescue when she was captured by a rival tribesman. Its sequel, The Son of the Sheik (1926), is often considered the superior film.

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