Harvard University's Suggested Film Viewing List: Narrative Films

by olgash-14823 | created - 15 Jul 2017 | updated - 15 Jul 2017 | Public
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1. The Arrival of a Train (1896)

Not Rated | 1 min | Documentary, Short

A train arrives at La Ciotat station.

Directors: Auguste Lumière, Louis Lumière | Stars: Madeleine Koehler, Marcel Koehler, Mrs. Auguste Lumiere, Jeanne-Joséphine Lumière

Votes: 11,231

2. Leaving the Factory (1895)

Not Rated | 1 min | Documentary, Short

Workers leaving the Lumière factory for lunch in Lyon, France in 1895; a place of great photographic innovation and one of the birth places of cinema.

Director: Louis Lumière

Votes: 6,552

3. The Waterer Watered (1895)

Not Rated | 1 min | Short, Comedy

An impudent child plays a prank on a gardener innocently watering his plants.

Director: Louis Lumière | Stars: François Clerc, Benoît Duval

Votes: 5,043

4. Baby's Meal (1895)

1 min | Documentary, Short

As part of a maiden public film screening at the Salon Indien, on December 28, in Paris, Auguste Lumière pivots the centre of attention around his baby daughter, as he tries to feed her from a spoon.

Director: Louis Lumière | Stars: Auguste Lumière, Mrs. Auguste Lumiere, Andrée Lumière

Votes: 3,103

5. The Conjuring of a Woman at the House of Robert Houdin (1896)

1 min | Short, Horror

As an elegant maestro of mirage and delusion drapes his beautiful female assistant with a gauzy textile, much to our amazement, the lady vanishes into thin air.

Director: Georges Méliès | Stars: Jehanne d'Alcy, Georges Méliès

Votes: 1,759

6. A Trip to the Moon (1902)

TV-G | 13 min | Short, Action, Adventure

A group of astronomers go on an expedition to the Moon.

Director: Georges Méliès | Stars: Georges Méliès, Victor André, Bleuette Bernon, Brunnet

Votes: 46,352

7. The Kingdom of the Fairies (1903)

Not Rated | 16 min | Short, Adventure, Fantasy

In this spectacular free adaptation of the popular theatre play "La Biche au Bois", the valiant Prince Bel-Azor pursues a baleful old witch to her impregnable castle, to save the beautiful young Princess Azurine.

Director: Georges Méliès | Stars: Georges Méliès, Marguerite Thévenard, Bleuette Bernon, André Deed

Votes: 1,446

8. The Magic Lantern (1903)

Not Rated | 3 min | Short, Comedy, Fantasy

In this brief "trick film" two clowns assemble an enormous magic lantern which first projects moving images, then emits dancing girls.

Director: Georges Méliès | Star: Zizi Papillon

Votes: 712

9. The Voyage Across the Impossible (1904)

Not Rated | 24 min | Short, Action, Adventure

Using every known means of transportation, several savants from the Geographic Society undertake a journey through the Alps to the Sun which finishes under the sea.

Director: Georges Méliès | Stars: Georges Méliès, Fernande Albany, Jehanne d'Alcy, May de Lavergne

Votes: 3,421

10. Annabelle Serpentine Dance (1895)

Not Rated | 1 min | Documentary, Short

Annabelle (Whitford) Moore performs one of her popular dance routines. She uses her dance steps and her long, flowing skirts to create a variety of visual patterns.

Directors: William K.L. Dickson, William Heise | Star: Annabelle Moore

Votes: 2,132

11. The Kiss (1896)

Not Rated | 1 min | Short, Romance

In a medium close-up shot of the first kiss ever recorded on screen, two fervent lovers cuddle and talk passionately at hair's breadth, just before the love-smitten gentleman decides to give his chosen one an innocent peck.

Director: William Heise | Stars: May Irwin, John C. Rice

Votes: 3,281

12. Mr. Edison at Work in His Chemical Laboratory (1897)

Not Rated | 1 min | Documentary, Short

"This film is remarkable in several respects. In the first place, it is full life-size. Secondly, it is the only accurate recent portrait of the great inventor. The scene is an actual one, ... See full summary »

Director: James H. White | Star: Thomas A. Edison

Votes: 655

13. Electrocuting an Elephant (1903)

Not Rated | 1 min | Documentary, Short, Horror

The execution of Topsy, a female elephant, in a publicity stunt advertising the opening of Luna Park on Coney Island. Topsy was originally owned by Forepaugh Circus where she killed a ... See full summary »

Director: Edwin S. Porter | Stars: Carl Goliath, Topsy

Votes: 1,650

14. The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1914)

81 min | Adventure, Family, Fantasy

Ojo and Unc Nunkie are out of food, so they decide to journey to the Emerald City where they will never starve.

Director: J. Farrell MacDonald | Stars: Violet MacMillan, Frank Moore, Raymond Russell, Leontine Dranet

Votes: 459

15. Terrible Teddy, the Grizzly King (1901)

1 min | Short, Comedy

Theodore Roosevelt merrily kills a mountain lion in Colorado while his press agent and photographer record the event for posterity.

Director: Edwin S. Porter

Votes: 450

16. Circular Panorama of Electric Tower (1901)

1 min | Documentary, Short

A most interesting picture at the Pan-American Exposition. The picture was taken from the north side of the Electric Tower. It presents the most perfect and diversified views of the ... See full summary »

Director: Edwin S. Porter

Votes: 438

17. Pan-American Exposition by Night (1901)

Not Rated | 1 min | Documentary, Short

A great feature of the Pan-American Exposition, as unanimously conceded by all visitors, was the electric illumination of the Exposition grounds at night. After a great deal of ... See full summary »

Director: Edwin S. Porter

Votes: 542

18. Life of an American Fireman (1903)

Not Rated | 6 min | Short, Action

A fireman rushes into a carriage to rescue a woman from a house fire. Breaks the window glasses and he goes down with the woman. After dangerous and uncertain moments, the fireman save the woman' s son, too.

Directors: George S. Fleming, Edwin S. Porter | Stars: Edwin S. Porter, Vivian Vaughan, Arthur White, James H. White

Votes: 2,276

19. Uncle Josh at the Moving Picture Show (1902)

Not Rated | 2 min | Comedy, Short

Country rube thinks what he sees on the movie screen is real. He jumps out of his seat to try to stop a kissing scene.

Director: Edwin S. Porter | Star: Charles Manley

Votes: 714

20. Uncle Tom's Cabin (I) (1903)

Not Rated | 13 min | Short, Drama

Based on the novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe: Eliza, a slave who has a young child, pleads with Tom, another slave, to escape with her. Tom does not leave, but Eliza flees with her child. ... See full summary »

Director: Edwin S. Porter

Votes: 469

21. The Gay Shoe Clerk (1903)

Unrated | 1 min | Comedy, Short

A woman being fitted for shoes exposes her ankle to the shoe clerk, who is intrigued. He kisses her, but her chaperone hits him with her umbrella.

Director: Edwin S. Porter | Star: Edward Boulden

Votes: 1,056

22. A Romance of the Rail (1903)

4 min | Short, Comedy, Romance

An engaged couple, dressed in white, meet each other at a train station. When the train arrives, they get on board, and they enjoy the sights from the platform on the last car. The workers ... See full summary »

Director: Edwin S. Porter | Star: Marie Murray

Votes: 357

23. The Great Train Robbery (1903)

TV-G | 11 min | Short, Action, Adventure

A group of bandits stage a brazen train hold-up, only to find a determined posse hot on their heels.

Director: Edwin S. Porter | Stars: Gilbert M. 'Broncho Billy' Anderson, A.C. Abadie, George Barnes, Justus D. Barnes

Votes: 18,227

24. The 'Teddy' Bears (1907)

Not Rated | 13 min | Short, Comedy, Family

Seven toy teddy bears of varying sizes suddenly come to life, getting in all sorts of merry misadventures.

Directors: Wallace McCutcheon, Edwin S. Porter

Votes: 586

25. The Lonely Villa (1909)

8 min | Short, Crime, Drama

A gang of thieves lure a man out of his home so that they can rob it and threaten his wife and children. The family barricade themselves in an interior room, but the criminals are ... See full summary »

Director: D.W. Griffith | Stars: David Miles, Marion Leonard, Mary Pickford, Gladys Egan

Votes: 913

26. A Corner in Wheat (1909)

G | 14 min | Short, Crime, Drama

An unscrupulous and greedy capitalist speculator decides to corner the wheat market for his own profit, establishing complete control over the markets.

Director: D.W. Griffith | Stars: Frank Powell, Grace Henderson, James Kirkwood, Linda Arvidson

Votes: 2,335

27. His Trust: The Faithful Devotion and Self-Sacrifice of an Old Negro Servant (1911)

Not Rated | 14 min | Short, Drama, War

A Confederate officer is called off to war. He leaves his wife and daughter in the care of George, his faithful Negro servant. After the officer is killed in an exciting battle sequence, ... See full summary »

Director: D.W. Griffith | Stars: Wilfred Lucas, Dell Henderson, Claire McDowell, Edith Haldeman

Votes: 586

28. The Lonedale Operator (1911)

Unrated | 17 min | Short, Drama, Romance

When her father becomes ill, a young woman takes over the telegraph at a lonely western railroad station. She soon gets word that the next train will deliver the payroll for a mining ... See full summary »

Director: D.W. Griffith | Stars: Blanche Sweet, George Nichols, Francis J. Grandon, Wilfred Lucas

Votes: 1,141

29. The New York Hat (1912)

Not Rated | 16 min | Short, Drama

The young village minister was not quite as discreet as he might have been in fulfilling the strange trust left by the dying mother, but it certainly worked for the common good. By the ... See full summary »

Director: D.W. Griffith | Stars: Mary Pickford, Charles Hill Mailes, Kate Bruce, Lionel Barrymore

Votes: 836

30. The Musketeers of Pig Alley (1912)

Not Rated | 17 min | Short, Crime, Drama

A young wife and her musician husband live in poverty in a New York City tenement. The husband's job requires him to go away for for a number of days. On his return, he is robbed by the ... See full summary »

Director: D.W. Griffith | Stars: Elmer Booth, Lillian Gish, Clara T. Bracy, Walter Miller

Votes: 2,166

31. The Battle of Elderbush Gulch (1913)

Not Rated | 29 min | Short, Action, Western

The fact that an Indian tribe is eating puppies starts an action packed battle in a western town.

Director: D.W. Griffith | Stars: Mae Marsh, Leslie Loveridge, Alfred Paget, Robert Harron

Votes: 828

32. La fée aux choux (1896)

1 min | Short, Family, Fantasy

The first film directed by a female director, "The Cabbage Fairy" presents a brief fantasy tale involving a strange fairy who can produce and deliver babies coming out of cabbages. Gently ... See full summary »

Director: Alice Guy | Stars: Alice Guy, Germaine Serand, Yvonne Serand

Votes: 1,111

33. A House Divided (I) (1913)

Unrated | 13 min | Short, Comedy, Family

A married couple decide to "live separately together."

Director: Alice Guy | Stars: Fraunie Fraunholz, Marian Swayne

Votes: 475

34. Cabiria (1914)

Not Rated | 148 min | Adventure, Drama, History

Cabiria is a Roman child when her home is destroyed by a volcano. Sold in Carthage to be sacrificed in a temple, is saved by Fulvio, a Roman spy. But danger lurks, and hatred between Rome and Carthage can only lead to war.

Director: Giovanni Pastrone | Stars: Italia Almirante-Manzini, Lidia Quaranta, Bartolomeo Pagano, Carolina Catena

Votes: 3,413

35. Fantômas: In the Shadow of the Guillotine (1913)

Not Rated | 54 min | Crime, Drama

Inspector Juve is tasked to investigate and capture an infamous criminal Fantomas.

Director: Louis Feuillade | Stars: René Navarre, Edmund Breon, Georges Melchior, Renée Carl

Votes: 2,165

36. The Birth of a Nation (1915)

TV-PG | 195 min | Drama, History, War

The Stoneman family finds its friendship with the Camerons affected by the Civil War, both fighting in opposite armies. The development of the war in their lives plays through to Lincoln's assassination and the birth of the Ku Klux Klan.

Director: D.W. Griffith | Stars: Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh, Henry B. Walthall, Miriam Cooper

Votes: 23,823 | Gross: $10.00M

37. Intolerance (1916)

Passed | 197 min | Drama, History

99 Metascore

The story of a poor young woman, separated by prejudice from her husband and baby, is interwoven with tales of intolerance from throughout history.

Director: D.W. Griffith | Stars: Lillian Gish, Robert Harron, Mae Marsh, F.A. Turner

Votes: 14,948 | Gross: $2.18M

38. The Cheat (1915)

Not Rated | 59 min | Drama, Romance

A venal, spoiled stockbroker's wife impulsively embezzles $10,000 from the charity she chairs and desperately turns to a Burmese ivory trader to replace the stolen money.

Director: Cecil B. DeMille | Stars: Fannie Ward, Sessue Hayakawa, Jack Dean, James Neill

Votes: 2,503

39. Les vampires (1915)

Not Rated | 421 min | Action, Adventure, Crime

An intrepid reporter and his loyal friend battle a bizarre secret society of criminals known as The Vampires.

Director: Louis Feuillade | Stars: Musidora, Édouard Mathé, Marcel Lévesque, Jean Aymé

Votes: 4,564

40. The Immigrant (1917)

Unrated | 30 min | Short, Comedy, Drama

Charlie is an immigrant who endures a challenging voyage and gets into trouble as soon as he arrives in America.

Director: Charles Chaplin | Stars: Charles Chaplin, Edna Purviance, Eric Campbell, Albert Austin

Votes: 8,036

41. The Outlaw and His Wife (1918)

Not Rated | 72 min | Drama

A stranger comes to work at widow Halla's farm.

Director: Victor Sjöström | Stars: Victor Sjöström, Edith Erastoff, John Ekman, Nils Aréhn

Votes: 1,767

42. Broken Blossoms (1919)

Not Rated | 90 min | Drama, Romance

A frail waif, abused by her brutal boxer father in London's seedy Limehouse District, is befriended by a sensitive Chinese immigrant with tragic consequences.

Director: D.W. Griffith | Stars: Lillian Gish, Richard Barthelmess, Donald Crisp, Arthur Howard

Votes: 9,946

43. Sunnyside (1919)

41 min | Comedy, Short

Charlie works on a farm from 4am to late at night. He gets his food on the run (milking a cow into his coffee, holding an chicken over the frying pan to get fried eggs). He loves the ... See full summary »

Director: Charles Chaplin | Stars: Charles Chaplin, Edna Purviance, Olive Ann Alcorn, Albert Austin

Votes: 2,908

44. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

Not Rated | 67 min | Fantasy, Horror, Mystery

Hypnotist Dr. Caligari uses a somnambulist, Cesare, to commit murders.

Director: Robert Wiene | Stars: Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt, Friedrich Feher, Lil Dagover

Votes: 60,221

45. The Phantom Carriage (1921)

Not Rated | 107 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror