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40 incredible movies you can watch for free online
You read that right: Free.
If you want to watch free movies online, you have plenty of legal options to do so—and you can do so without downloading any suspicious apps or files.
From classics that transformed Hollywood to modern flicks, streaming services like Crackle and YouTube offer a wealth of options. You just need to know where to look. Thankfully, we’ve done the hard part for you. We’ve scoured the internet to find the best free movies online, and we’ll update this post regularly, so you’ll always be able to find something new to watch.
Here are your best options for free movie streaming right now.
Watch free movies online: YouTube
You can rent movies on YouTube for a modest fee, but there are plenty of free movies to watch too. All of the following recommendations have hit the public domain, so they’re legal to stream and should be sticking around a while too. Just click the name of the movie to be taken to the YouTube video.
While the low-budget film noir was well-reviewed upon its 1945 release, Detour has only grown in critical acclaim in the years since. Filmed in just six days, it’s hard to believe that this dark tale of blackmail gone wrong survived the harsh censorship of the Hays Code era. Playing a particularly devilish femme fatale, Ann Savage (much later seen in Guy Maddin’s masterful My Winnipeg) became a cult icon. Savage’s Vera hitches a ride with Al (Tom Neal), whom she comes to believe has murdered a bookie. And in the grand tradition of film noir, she plans to use that to take everything—or almost—everything he’s got. As Vera would put it, “I don’t wanna be a hog!”—Nico Lang
2) The General
Like many future landmarks, Buster Keaton’s The General was a financial flop and received poor reviews from critics after it initially debuted in theaters. However, The General went on to be known as the finest work in its director’s distinguished career, and Citizen Kane director Orson Welles emphatically claimed it was the greatest movie ever made. It’s easy to see why: The General offers some of the cinema’s most nimble physical comedy (Keaton did all of his iconic stunts for the film, which includes jogging on top of a moving train), as well as its star’s trademark deadpan charm. If you’re a fan of Charlie Chaplin or the Marx Brothers, you can’t miss it.—N.L.
One of the funniest, fastest movies ever made, His Girl Friday is to dialogue what Gravity is to special effects—an utter miracle. If you’re a fan of the fast-talking dames on Gilmore Girls, test yourself by trying to keep up with the motor-mouthed wit of Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, playing star-crossed news reporters. Speaking in the movie’s trademark overlapping dialogue, the two share some of the sharpest barbs ever written. Take this exchange: Hildy (Russell) is explaining to Walter (Grant) why she’s marrying another man. She says, “He treats me like a woman.” Walter Burns: “Oh, he does, does he? How did I treat you? Like a water buffalo?” When they say they don’t make ’em like this anymore, His Girl Friday is what they mean.—N.L.
Between movies like House of Wax (not the Paris Hilton one), The Fly (not the Geena Davis one), and House on Haunted Hill (not the Chris Kattan one), Vincent Price carved out a niche for himself as the maestro of macabre horror. Price’s eerie yet alluring screen presence is unmatched in cinema, and this film—about a millionaire who pays a group of people to stay overnight in his spooky old house—is the perfect blend of retro horror and vintage camp. Those looking for more gems in Price’s massive filmography would be advised to check out his playing-it-straight roles in The Song of Bernadette and Laura, which gave Price a chance to show the fine actor underneath the steely kitsch.—N.L.
Boasting one of Jack Nicholson’s first screen appearances, the 1960 Little Shop of Horrors is more straightforwardly comic than other entries in the Roger Corman catalog. However, the film’s off-kilter, dark humor is well-suited to the tale of a bumbling florist who unwittingly creates a carnivorous plant, and Little Shop quickly gained cult popularity through regular television broadcasts in the 1960s and ’70s. For those with a taste for the absurd, it remains a delight five decades later.—N.L.
Saying watching Metropolis is a requirement for any serious lover of film makes it sound like medicine. But there’s a reason that Fritz Lang’s masterpiece has inspired everyone from Madonna—who paid homage to Lang’s work in the video for “Express Yourself”—to Janelle Monae and St. Vincent. Hailed as one of the silent movies ever made, Metropolis remains a visual and technical marvel, inspired by Art Deco and German expressionism, and these same influences could be seen in Robert Wiene’s likewise unmissable The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Fans of the director should also check out M, his other German tour de force, as well as his later works in America—such as the underrated noirs Fury and The Big Heat.—N.L.
If you had to put a gun to my head and ask me what my favorite comedy is, this is probably what I would blurt out first. The inimitable Carole Lombard is daffy perfection as Irene Bullock, a spoiled socialite who adopts a hapless homeless man (William Powell) as her pet projection—and hires him as the family butler. There’s a certain Wodehousesque weightlessness to the whole thing as if the movie could float away at any time, but don’t let that distract you from how dense this movie is—with mad screwball humor, with fully realized characters, and with life itself.—N.L.
While Victor Halperin’s White Zombie is widely credited as the first zombie movie, Walking Dead fans have George Romero to thank for starting the modern zombie craze with this landmark 1968 horror film. The low-budget indie was filmed for just $114,000 and grossed $12 million in the U.S., making it one of the most profitable movies ever made, never mind an enduringly influential cult classic. Night of the Living Dead was a critique of discourses of race and social taboos, as well one of few movies in the era to cast a black actor in a lead role. While Romero’s film would launch a successful film franchise for the director (last seen in 2009’s Survival of the Dead), this will forever be remembered as the maestro’s finest hour.—N.L.
Nosferatu is, for my money, still the most chilling horror film to grace the big screen. For F.W. Murnau’s considerable gifts as a director—he also filmed Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, the first movie to ever win Best Picture—the movie lives and dies on Max Schreck’s utterly incredible performance as the titular bloodsucker. Here’s the ultimate indication of just how good Schreck is here: Shadow of the Vampire, a 2000 film starring Willem Dafoe and John Malkovich, suggested that Max Schreck was an actual vampire. That film is, of course, a work of fiction, but let’s just say this: I would never have wanted to be alone in a dark alley with Schreck to find out.—N.L.
Charade represented a major left turn in Audrey Hepburn’s career. Known for sparkling romantic comedies like Roman Holiday and Sabrina, which relied on her preternatural sophistication, the 1960s saw America’s Sweetheart transitioning to darker fare. First, there was the romantic comedy Breakfast at Tiffany’s—which was toned down significantly from its edgy source material. Truman Capote’s novella was about a friendship between a call girl and a gay writer. Two years later, Hepburn co-starred with Cary Grant in Charade, a spy thriller about a woman whose husband is murdered. After his death, she finds out how little she know about him. What makes Hepburn so effective in it, though, is that the Stanley Donen film—often compared to the best of Hitchcock—is a screwball comedy in disguise. The sly banter between the two beloved actors sings. —N.L.
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With no offense intended to Agatha Christie or Josef von Sternberg, Alfred Hitchcock is the definitive maestro of locomotive intrigue. Two of his most famous films are set on trains: North by Northwest and Strangers on a Train, in which two men trade murders. Hitchcock’s first train voyage, however, was the masterful The Lady Vanishes, in which a young woman (Margaret Lockwood) finds that a fellow passenger, the elderly Miss Froy (Dame May Whitty) has disappeared. However, none of the other riders ever recall the old woman being on board. If the missing-person-no-one-else-thinks-is-missing plot has been lifted numerous times in the years since (see: Flightplan), it’s because you only steal from the best. And when it comes to these kinds of thrillers, Hitchcock remains unsurpassed.—N.L.
13) Reefer Madness
Reefer Madness holds a rare distinction: It might be the first “so-bad-it’s-good” movie to become a hit precisely because of its delicious awfulness. Originally filmed as a morality play about the dangers of drug addiction, Reefer Madness (which was also known as Tell Your Children, Doped Youth, and Love Madness) is so over-the-top that it may have convinced more young people to try drugs than stay off them. In one famous scene, a man smoking marijuana demands that his girlfriend play him a tune on the piano, yelling: “Faster, play faster!” The movie about a “new and deadly menace lurking behind closed doors!” would become a staple of the midnight movie circuit in the 1970s, as well as a frequent target of parodies. The most famous is Reefer Madness: The Musical, a tongue-in-cheek remake starring Kristen Bell, Alan Cumming, and Neve Campbell. It aired in 2007 on Showtime.—N.L.
Barbara Stanwyck is a national treasure. Over the course of her six-decade career, she proved she could do just about anything: thrillers (Sorry, Wrong Number), melodrama (Stella Dallas), romance (My Reputation), and screwball comedy (The Lady Eve, Ball of Fire). But as Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity proved, the versatile actress is never better than when she’s bad: Stanwyck added to her roster of femme fatales with the impeccable The Strange Love of Martha Ivers—about a young girl, Martha (Stanwyck), who inadvertently kills her domineering aunt. Years later, Martha ends up in a loveless marriage with the boy (Kirk Douglas, in his first film role) who helped corroborate her story. But as the lovers find out, the past will come back to haunt them.—N.L.
15) White Zombie
For horror movie buffs, White Zombie is unmissable. Before George Romero and The Walking Dead, this 1932 film kickstarted the zombie movie genre. Although White Zombie was very negatively reviewed upon its release (one critic called it “an unintentional and often hilarious comedy”), the early independent feature—set in Haiti—has an eerie hypnotic pull. Bela Lugosi plays a local voodoo master who transforms a visiting American woman (Madge Bellamy) into a zombie by putting her into a mysterious trance. White Zombie has none of the undead brain-eaters fans would come to associate with the generic form, but if you can get past the hammy overacting, the film succeeds on its own charms. It would become such a cult hit in the U.S. that White Zombie even became a favorite of the Nazi Party, one of the few American films that was given the Third Reich’s seal of approval.—N.L.
16) Nothing Sacred
If you can forgive the hideous technicolor, Nothing Sacred is a comic miracle. The 1937 film, directed by William A. Wellman, was the first screwball comedy to be shot in color, and, well, it shows. However, if you watch it in black-and-white, you can focus not on how it looks but how it sounds. Ben Hecht, then the hottest screenwriter in Tinseltown, amassed a dream team of writers to pen the screenplay, including Budd Schulberg (On the Waterfront) and Dorothy Parker, the acid-tongued queen of the Algonquin Round Table. The incomparable Carole Lombard plays Hazel Flagg, who has received good news: She’s not dying of radium poisoning. The problem is that a struggling newspaper wants to make the “doomed girl” into a media sensation. Hazel decides to go along with it anyway. After all, how could she pass up an opportunity like that, radium or no radium?—N.L.
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17) The Immigrant
No relation to the Marion Cotillard-Joaquin Phoenix melodrama, The Immigrant is yet another highlight in multi-hyphenate Charlie Chaplin’s celebrated career as an actor, writer, and director. Those unfamiliar with Chaplin’s filmography would be better advised to start with classic like The Gold Rush, Modern Times, and City Lights (the latter landed on AFI’s list of the top 10 greatest movies ever made). More experienced fans of the Little Tramp, however, should check out this underrated short film. In The Immigrant, Chaplin explores the harsh realities facing workers immigrating to America in the 1910s through a wry comic lens. Just 22 minutes long, it features some of the early cinematic auteur’s most breathless physical comedy: In a famous dining hall sequence, the Tramp finds out what really happens to passengers on board when the boat is a-rocking.—N.L.
18) Scarlet Street
Fritz Lang is most famously known for M and Metropolis, his early German-language masterpieces. (The latter has been a particular influence on R&B singer Janelle Monae.) However, cinephiles shouldn’t neglect his later English-language films, including classics like The Big Heat (a personal favorite) and The Woman in the Window (which Paste called the best noir ever). Like the latter, Scarlet Street stars Edward G. Robinson (Double Indemnity), Dan Duryea, and Joan Bennett. As in their previous feature, Robinson plays a man in a midlife crisis who falls in love with an unattainable young woman (Bennett). There’s a catch: She’s a femme fatale and he’s her mark. The thing is, though, they’re conning each other—he’s led her to believe that he’s a wealthy painter, despite the fact that he’s just an amateur artist.—N.L.
19) The Lodger
Those who dismiss The Lodger as nothing but a piece of film trivia are really missing out. The Lodger was Alfred Hitchcock’s first full-length feature film, released in 1927 with the subtitle “A Story of the London Fog.” The British master’s debut effort illustrates many of the thematic obsessions that would consume his later work (especially his complicated relationship with the law enforcement). The Lodger offers the classic “wrong man” narrative Hitch would make his name on Jonathan (Ivor Novello) rents a room from an elderly couple. Days earlier, however, a young woman was murdered by “The Avenger,” a serial killer overly based on Jack the Ripper. But if the plot is fairly simple, the visuals make up for it; The Lodger is extraordinarily striking for the period, suggesting the brilliant stylist its creator would become.—N.L.
20) A Star Is Born
Your favorite version of A Star Is Born is perhaps a matter of taste. George’s Cukor’s What Price Hollywood?, a critical look at the costs of fame, has been remade three times. The most famous (as well as infamous) is Barbra Streisand’s 1976 ode to opulence—about a washed-up rock & roll star (Kris Kristofferson) and the diva who tries to save him from self-destruction (Streisand, of course). There’s also the 1952 edition with Judy Garland, also directed by Cukor. But no with disrespect to Judy, you’d be advised to start with the Janet Gaynor version. Featuring a sly screenplay by Dorothy Parker, the film pulls no punches: a shy North Dakota farmgirl lives her dreams of Hollywood stardom, only to watch it all crumble around her. For Parker, a respected New York critic who struggled to adapt to L.A. artifice, it was a subject she knew well.—N.L.
21) Meet John Doe
Frank Capra made his name in films like It Happened One Night and It’s a Wonderful Life—buoyant films about the goodness of the human spirit. But it is one of the great director’s bleakest works that resonates most powerfully today. Jaded newspaper reporter Ann Mitchell (Barbara Stanwyck) invents a character, the eponymous John Doe, who symbolizes the forgotten working man, fed up with modern society. In an open letter, John Doe implores Americans to be kinder and more gracious to each other. He’s such a hit that the paper hires an out-of-work baseball player (Gary Cooper) to portray him, until John Doe’s popularity is exploited by political demagogues. It’s a bleak satire with uncanny echoes of Donald Trump, a must-see for anyone terrified about the next four years.—N.L.
Megastars (and mega-hunks) Cary Grant and Tony Curtis take the leads in this 1959 World War II comedy, which is perhaps best known for its setting: Aboard a giant pink submarine called the Sea Tiger. U.S. Navy admiral Matt Sherman (Grant) recalls in flashbacks the time he spent aboard the Sea Tiger during the first days of U.S. involvement during WWII. Despite having zero submarine experience, Lieutenant Holden (Curtis) joins Sherman for a wild, humorous, action-packed romp across the seas, eventually picking up several stranded Army nurses (Dina Merill, Joan O’Brien), adding some sexual tension and silly romance to a movie mostly about Navy men on a beaten-down submarine.—N.L.
Watch free movies online: Crackle
Crackle is a streaming service comparable to Hulu or Netflix. The difference? It’s free. On Crackle, you can stream a deep catalog of movies and TV shows, so long as you’re willing to sit through a few commercials.
23) Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser
If God made dirt and dirt don’t hurt, and God also made David Spade, does that mean Joe Dirt 2 is touched by the divine? You’re going to have to see for yourself to find out. But if you liked the original Joe Dirt, most likely you’ll be on onboard this goofy go around too. Joe and his mullet transport back in time, and Joe has to make his way back to the present. Joe Dirt 2 is a Crackle exclusive, which made it the first movie sequel to be produced for a streaming outlet. —Eddie Strait
24) Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
During Michael Cera’s glorious mid-aughts run of comedies, he starred alongside Kat Dennings in this infinitely charming and funny romcom. Nick and Norah, strangers at the start of the movie, turn their meet-cute into an all-night chase around New York to catch a secret show by the elusive band Where’s Fluffy. The movie is plenty funny, but it’s the relationship between Nick and Norah that elevates the movie above most of its peers. —E.S.
25) School of Rock
Jack Black’s manic energy finds its perfect in Richard Linklater’s music school comedy. Black plays a professional layabout who steals a subbing job from his nebbish roommate (Mike White, who also wrote the script) and ends up teaching a class of young musical prodigies. Of course, the students end up teaching Black as much about life as he teaches them about Led Zeppelin. It’s a crowd-pleaser through and through, with equal amounts of laughs and heart and, most importantly, a great rock show at the end. —E.S.
26) There Will Be Blood
Paul Thomas Anderson is arguably the best American filmmaker going, and his 2007 film is as representative of his work as any of his masterpieces. Daniel Day-Lewis gives an all-time performance as Daniel Plainview, a prospector of unlimited ambition. It tells a specific story, but it’s also timeless. It’s big, it’s sprawling, it’s messy, it’s a must-see movie. Any movie that makes something as innocuous as a milkshake into an iconic cinematic moment is worth reckoning with it. —E.S.
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“FREEDOM!” Before Mel Gibson started competing for the winner of most Hollywood comebacks, he was best known for screaming this at the top of his lungs in one of the most emotionally gut-punching movie finales ever. Chronicling the legendary uprising led by Scottish hero William Wallace, Gibson also got an Oscar for directing this 1995 Best Picture winner. Although the film hasn’t aged perfectly in the 20-plus years since its release, it’s still the rare combination of action-packed and heartfelt that gets broad audiences going. —Chris Osterndorf
28) Step Brothers
Step Brothers is an immaculate comedy that doesn’t lose any luster no matter how many times you’ve seen it. Dale (John C. Reilly) and Brennan (Will Ferrell) should have ended the run of developmentally arrested white guy characters in a just world. Who needs best friends when you can stay in and watch Step Brothers any time you want? —E.S.
29) Animal Kingdom
This Australian crime thriller is a white-knuckle experience. A teenager, Joshua, goes to live with some family members after his mother’s death and quickly realizes he’s in over his head. Surviving day to day with his criminal family becomes a task unto itself, and as the family’s crimes soon put them at war with the police, Joshua is caught in the middle. Animal Kingdom is a rock-solid story elevated by strong writing and performances (especially Jackie Weaver as the family matriarch). —E.S.
30) Southland Tales
Writer-director Richard Kelly specializes in making movies meant to mess with your head. Kelly followed up his cult favorite Donnie Darko with this apocalyptic sci-fi musical mystery film. It features a solid cast (The Rock, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Seann William Scott, Justin Timberlake, among others) doing its best to keep the movie afloat. The weight of the film’s ambition and scope proves to be too much at times, but even when the story isn’t clicking, there’s always something interesting happening on screen. —E.S.
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Free movie streaming on MoviesFoundOnline
Movies Found Online rounds up classic movies and other oddities that are circulating online for your viewing pleasure. As with YouTube, most of the free movies to watch are in the public domain, but there are some other gems to be fund too. You’ll need to update your Flash player before watching any of the free movies that aren’t on YouTube.
31) Play the Game
Everyone wishes they knew all the secrets to sweeping someone off their feet, and if you have to play a few games to get there, so be it. In this light hearted rom-com, a guy who thinks he knows how to play the field decides to help his grandpa out by filling him in on all his tactics. However, it turns out his grandpa has a few things to teach him about love after he finds trouble in paradise with a close friend. —Kristen Hubby
Not to be confused with the classic Stanley Kubrick adaptation, this 1997 remake of the iconic and controversial Vladimir Nabokov novel stars Jeremy Irons as middle-aged professor Humbert Humbert and Dominique Swain as Lolita, and it holds up surprisingly well. —K.H.
No matter how old this movie gets, it still makes you laugh until you can’t stomach it any longer. Monty Python and the Holy Grail turns the grim conditions of the Middle Ages into a comedic masterpiece. —K.H.
Originally filmed in 1925, Phantom of the Opera tells the tale of a deformed phantom with the voice of an angel who haunts the Paris Opera house. As the phantom falls in love with one of the opera singers, he does everything in his power, including murder, to make her the leading star. The silent film is based on the celebrated 1910 novel by Gaston Leroux and has prompted more than 30 adaptations. —K.H.
A 1939 Technicolor film, Gulliver’s Travels draws familiarity from the Jonathan Swift’s 18th-century novel you probably read growing up. The film tells the tall tale of an explorer who runs into a small village and helps them declare war over a dispute about a wedding song. —K.H.
Watch free movies online: PopcornFlix
PopcornFlix is part of Screen Media Ventures, which bills itself as “the largest independent distributor of motion pictures to the world wide television market.” That’s part of what gives PopcornFlix such a deep library of free movies to watch online.
A financial reporter (Daniel Craig) gets the opportunity to regain his integrity after being hired to solve the case of a woman from a wealthy family who went missing 40 years ago with the help of a fragile yet eccentric investigator (Rooney Mara).Directed by David Fincher, the film is captivating and definitely not for the faint of heart. It features explicit scenes of rape, but when the film is over, its hard-hitting message about broken hearts will stay with you. —K.H.
37) One Last Dance
In the wake of the death of their past mast choreographer, three dancers are reunited and forced to reconcile their differences if they want to save their old studio. The compelling drama was directed by Lisa Niemi and co-produced by her and Patrick Swayze, and their chemistry as an on-screen couple is intoxicating. —K.H.
Paige, a pre-med student whose life work is focused on achieving her educational goals, faces a distraction after meeting a new guy named Edward. Little does she know, her crush is secretly the Crown Prince of Denmark. When the truth comes out, their whirlwind romance is put to the test.
39) Lovely Bones
After 14-year-old girl Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan) is brutally murdered by her neighbor, she’s sent to a place between heaven and Earth to watch over her family, friends, and killer. While Salmon’s position is painful—watching her family agonize over the mystery of her death—she keeps tallies on her killer in hopes of protecting her younger sister. The movie’s plot is set in 1970s Pennsylvania, and it’s chilling enough to make you call your parents.
40) True Grit
When outlaw Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) kills a fierce 14-year-old girl’s father, she hires Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) to avenge her father’s death. When the duo set off to find Chaney, they are joined by Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) who is in search of him for personal reasons. The journey is filled with lots of bickering and roadblocks as the trio of strangers fight for justice in the dangerous land of the Old West.
Watch free movies online via free trials
You’ll need to put down a credit card and cancel before your trial ends—assuming you don’t want to continue—but every major streaming service offers a free trial. If you play your cards right, you can binge-watch to your heart’s desire for five months free:
- Netflix: 30-day free trial
- HBO Now: 30-day free trial
- Hulu: 30-day free trial
- Amazon Prime: 30-day free trial
- DirecTV Now: 7-day free trial
- FuboTV: 7-day free trial
- Showtime Anytime: 7-day free trial
- Sling TV: 7-day free trial
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.