Who needs Netflix with the Internet Archive around?

Over the last month or so I have been scouring the Internet Archive for pubic domain films. Below are 31 of the 38 movies I bookmarked in del.icio.us that are currently available at Internet Archive (del.icio.us seems to be balking the feed after 31 entries for some reason). To see all 38 go here. The list includes some amazing films like Akira Kurosawa’s multi-perspective masterpiece Rashomon; D.O.A. -the classic Film Noir starring Edmund O’Brien; Fritz Lang’s German masterpiece M and his Hollywood Noir Scarlet Street; Charlie Chaplin’s first full-length feature The Kid; the depression era classic My Man Godfrey; classic exploitation films from the 1930s like Sex Madness and Reefer Madness; the unedited version of They Call Me Trinity -a Spaghetti Western starring Terence Hill and Bud Spencer; what many believe to be the first narrative film The Great Train Robbery; and the list goes on and on…

I will be building a number of these films into an idea I had that centers around a public domain film course. The logic is to organize several of these movies into a hands-on curriculum wherein students can have structured space to both analyze the history of film along the lines of genre, film form, stylistics, etc. as well as incorporating a lab element wherein they get their hands dirty by re-editing, re-mixing, and mashing up selected films as a way of using this unbelievable archive to give students a more immediate relationship to the art, craft, and beauty of film making. Moreover, we can really start to experiment with and think through the implications of writing papers for a course with the very films themselves. An exciting conflation of the creative and analytical process of producing coursework by editing the arguments filmically. This is all made possible by the abundance of open, mashable, and freely distributed resources we have at our fingertips -isn’t it about time we started to take advantage of it?

A list of feature films freely available at the Internet Archive

You can subscribe to the RSS feed for all the public domain movies I come across click here.

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5 Responses to Who needs Netflix with the Internet Archive around?

  1. Brian says:

    Great course idea!

  2. Thanks for the list of movies, Jim! I know what I’m watching tonight…

    Netflix is safe, though, as long as copyright is continuously/infinitely extended. Perhaps that’s a good thing, though, since most recently-released films are such dreck… Can’t WAIT until I can grab my copy of The Emperor’s New Groove from archive.org…

  3. Tony D'Ambra says:

    Hi Jim

    You should check out RetroTV.com, which hosts free many public domain movies not listed here, including these noirs:

    Detour (1945)
    The Red House (1947)
    Whistle Stop (1946)
    Impact (1949)
    Quicksand (1950)
    Kansas City Confidential (1952)
    The Stranger (1946)
    Suddenly (1954)

    Some can be downloaded using the Azureus Bit-Torrent Client.

    Full details in this post from my FilmsNoir.Net blog:

    http://filmsnoir.net/film_noir/extra-extra-free-movies-to-download.html

  4. jimgroom says:

    Thanks Tony,

    Excellent additions. I actually went to the retroTV site fro your blog a week or so ago when you posted and tried the bit-Torrent for The Red House. Unfortunately it was not really impressive quality. Moreover, seems like some of the movies are in Windows Media format -making them virtually unusable for me. I would like to see the full “DVD quality” versions via bit=torrent, which is definitely the right way to distribute these. The RetroTV site mentions this for the DivX versions, but I haven’t really seen the quality increase for The Red House which was an avi file and I imagine DivX encoded. As of now, I am downloading the full versions from Internet Archive (which takes forever) and watching them via the VLC player -which works well for now. However, I may have to re-visit the RetroTV site soon and see if I am missing something, or at least stop the bitching and host my own bit-torrent files of some other films that they aren’t seeding to join in, share the goodness, and get the compression/quality issues perfected.

  5. Tony D'Ambra says:

    Yes Jim, I should have pointed out that they are DivX files, which are problematic in that the movie looks fine in the default small screen window on a PC monitor, but as soon as you maximize the window to fit your screen, it gets “pixelated” [do you recall that lovely scene set in Congress in Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) :)].

    The trick for me anyway, is to feed the movie onto my standard definition Plasma TV from my Media Center PC, and it comes up roses…

    Btw, sorry I omitted to say Great Post!

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