1921 Movies

The 1921 Plex database offers a specialized lens on the world of film for that year, connecting users with a collection of titles that defined the silent film era. This archive facilitates access to films and encapsulates the essence of 1921's contributions to cinema, highlighting groundbreaking works, influential figures, and key developments within the industry.
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Browse 304 titles in our 1921 Movies Database

The Best Movies in 1921

The Kid

"The Kid" stands out as a comedy-drama-family film that captivates audiences with its heartfelt narrative. Directed and performed by Charles Chaplin, the movie introduces us to The Tramp, who finds an abandoned child and decides to care for him, creating a unique bond. Their story, filled with love and challenges, showcases the resilience and dedication they have for each other. Co-starring Edna Purviance and Jackie Coogan, "The Kid" is a testament to Chaplin's genius in blending humor with drama, making it a timeless piece.

The Phantom Carriage

Victor Sjöström directed and starred in "The Phantom Carriage," a film that merges drama, fantasy, and horror into a compelling narrative. The plot revolves around a haunting New Year's Eve legend stating the last person to die before midnight must take up the mantle of Death's chariot driver for a year. This story explores themes of redemption and the supernatural, engaging audiences with its innovative special effects and profound storytelling. The performances by Hilda Borgström and Tore Svennberg add depth to this enthralling movie.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Rex Ingram's "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" is a drama-romance-war film that provides a riveting look at the impacts of World War I on a family divided between France and Germany. The film features Rudolph Valentino in a breakout role that showcases his acting prowess and screen presence. Valentino, along with Alice Terry, Pomeroy Cannon, and Josef Swickard, brings to life the complexities of love, loyalty, and the ravages of war, making this a standout film of its time.


Directed by Fritz Lang, "Destiny" is a film that dives into fantasy and the foreign language genre with remarkable skill. This German Expressionist film tells the emotionally charged story of a woman negotiating with Death to save her fiancé. It features stellar performances by Lil Dagover, Walter Janssen, and Bernhard Goetzke. "Destiny" is celebrated for its innovative visual style, storytelling techniques, and the way it confronts themes of fate and love, securing its place in cinema history.

Orphans of the Storm

D.W. Griffith's "Orphans of the Storm" is a drama-melodrama-period film that immerses viewers in the tumult of the French Revolution. Starring Lillian Gish and Dorothy Gish, it narrates the story of two orphaned sisters navigating through the dangers and societal upheavals of the era. The film is noted for its historical portrayal, emotional depth, and compelling narrative, offering a cinematic experience that is both enlightening and engaging.

Film & Industry Highlights of 1921

The Beginnings of the Film Industry's Boom

In 1921, the film industry was experiencing a growth phase, particularly in Los Angeles, which was already becoming the center of the U.S. film industry. This period was marked by a migration to Los Angeles, not just of those seeking fame on the silver screen, but also of workers and technicians looking to find a place in the burgeoning film business. The city's population increase was a direct reflection of the industry's capacity to attract talent and investment.

Role of Trade Journals

The Motion Picture News emerged as a critical platform during this era, offering extensive coverage of the industry's developments. Established in 1908, it served as a vital resource for independent exhibitors, providing them with objective film reviews and detailed summaries of theater programs nationwide. This level of coverage was instrumental in fostering a deeper connection between films and their audiences, ensuring that moviegoers had the information necessary to choose films that appealed to them.

Silent Films and Notable Personalities

The silent film era dominated the industry, with movies being the primary source of entertainment for countless Americans and Canadians. Actors and directors greatly contributed to the industry's growth, with versatile stage actor Louis Calhern and the renowned escape artist Harry Houdini venturing into film. Despite Houdini's established fame, his movie projects did not achieve the success he had hoped for, leading to his eventual departure from the film industry. During the same period, future Hollywood luminaries like Carole Lombard and Fredric March began their illustrious careers, signaling the entry of exceptional talent into the industry. The release of "Drakula Halála" marked a notable moment, as it was one of the earliest films to explore vampire themes, preceding the iconic "Nosferatu" by F.W. Murnau.

Addressing Censorship

Censorship was a powerful challenge, with the National Association of the Motion Picture Industry taking steps to enforce guidelines that regulated film content. The aim was to maintain a level of decency and propriety in films, reflecting broader societal values and norms of the time. These regulations were part of the industry's efforts to balance creative expression with the expectations of the audience and concerned citizens.

The Booming Silent Film Industry

Despite hurdles such as censorship, the film industry continued to thrive in 1921, with silent films being a major form of entertainment. Films like "Man, Woman, Marriage" received substantial promotion and advertising, illustrating the industry's move towards more sophisticated marketing strategies to attract wider audiences. The silent film era was a testament to the power of visual storytelling, captivating millions without the need for spoken dialogue, and laying the foundation for future cinematic innovations.