No copyright, no problem. Sit back and enjoy these 11 free classic films on YouTube.
Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant and Walter Matthau -- need I say more? The best Hitchcock film that wasn't directed by Alfred Hitchcock, "Charade" (1963) treads serious waters -- murder, mystery, spies -- but adds some delightful comedic banter to the suspense- and romance-fueled plot. Come for the twists, stay for the decidedly '60s-style filmmaking.
There's a cool bit of trivia about the 1945 noir film "Detour" starring Tom Neal: It was shot in just six days. Cooler still is the vintage Hollywood plot: a stolen identity, a femme fatale, blackmail, mayhem...the works. Oh, and don't forget the unintentionally hilarious dialogue, like our hero's description of the hitchhiker he just picked up: "Not the beauty of an actress, mind you, or the beauty you dream about when you're with your wife, but a natural beauty." The beauty you dream about when you're with your wife?!
Does this plot point sound familiar? In order to protect a secret, a villain goes to great lengths to make someone else question their own sanity. Countless movies and TV shows owe that idea to the 1940 classic "Gaslight," itself based on a play of the same name. This isn't the Hollywood remake starring Charles Boyer and Ingrid Berman, but rather the original (some would say superior) British version.
Ever wonder about the origin of the "screwball comedy"? Look no further than the Howard Hawkes classic "His Girl Friday" (1940), which holds up amazingly well 77 years later. Credit stars Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, who banter with the kind of lightning-fast ferocity that's commonplace now, but was unprecedented in 1940. On top of that, it's just a flat-out funny film, one with a romantic core but a compelling, urgent story.
If you think Bob Hope couldn't make a decent comedy without Bing Crosby, think again. In "My Favorite Brunette" (1947), Hope delivers one cornball zinger after another as he's mistaken for a private eye -- which, as it happens, he aspires to be. Hapless, bumbling and hilarious, Hope creates a comedic mold that would often be emulated by the likes of Jerry Lewis, Woody Allen and Steve Martin.
I'll be honest: I know nothing about "Roman Holiday" (1953) save for two things. First, it's a romantic comedy. Second, that romance takes place between Gregory Peck (who never struck me as especially comedic) and Audrey Hepburn, who made her lead-actress debut in this film. Oh, I just sussed out a third thing: It takes place in Rome.
I've always been a Chaplin man (keep reading for two of his films!), but no silent-film buff can ignore the achievement that is Buster Keaton's "The General" (1926). It's not about a military leader; it's about a train. And while the movie moves a bit slowly and lacks the big laughs of Chaplin's best, you have to remember: This was 1926. Film comedy was still being invented. Keaton invented a lot.
"The Gold Rush" (1925) is not Charlie Chaplin's best movie. That award goes to "City Lights," which, alas, is not available for viewing on YouTube. However, "The Gold Rush" is probably his best-known movie, and it offers a great mix of humor and pathos.
Chaplin wrote, produced, directed and even scored the music for "The Kid" (1921), his first feature-length film. (Oh, yeah: He starred in it as well.) In a tale both hilarious and heartwarming, the Little Tramp cares for an abandoned child and -- hang on, I think there's something in my eye.
Though positively tame by "Walking Dead" standards, George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" (1968) is widely credited as the movie that put zombies on the map. It stars no one you've ever heard of and seems almost quaint now, but there's no denying the horror of a horde of flesh-eating monsters. See the movie that launched a thousand imitators -- and moderately successful TV series.
"Nothing Sacred" is the best kind of classic: One you've probably never heard of and don't know anything about, but that gets you laughing within the first three minutes. This 1937 Carole Lombard vehicle is almost shockingly prescient in its tale of fake, sensationalized news. But forget the political subtext; just sit back and chortle.