[[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin A film with no spoken dialogue]]. Until the late 1920s or so, this was a technological limitation, though filmmakers certainly [[SerendipityWritesThePlot made the most of it]]. Almost from the beginning of the medium, people attempted to combine moving pictures with prerecorded audio, but none of these technologies achieved commercial acceptance and success until Creator/WarnerBros/First National Pictures introduced its Vitaphone sound-on-disc system in 1926. After the mid-1930s, it was as much an [[SilenceIsGolden artistic decision]] as DeliberatelyMonochrome became after the introduction of color.

Note that we said "no spoken dialogue". Many silent movies (especially the big-budget ones) ''did'' have a soundtrack in the form of a custom musical score either for the entire movie or just a few key scenes, intended to be performed by live musicians in the theatre. Even if the filmmakers didn't prepare custom scores or recommended musical cues, exhibitors usually screened these films with atmospheric live organ, piano, or other musical accompaniment.

Some scores even called for sound effects, also performed live, and a few called for important bits of dialog to be read out by live actors. Unfortunately, most of the scores have been lost.

The UsefulNotes/RiseOfTheTalkies came more or less out of nowhere. The first film to have a synchronized soundtrack was 1926 film ''Don Juan'', but that consisted only of a musical score. 1927 film ''Film/TheJazzSinger'' upped the ante, by putting all of Al Jolson's songs on the soundtrack, as well as a single four-minute dialogue scene. (The rest of the movie was a conventional silent.). The film created a sensation. 1928 saw the release of ''Film/TheLightsOfNewYork'', the first all-talking film. By 1929 silent film production had ended in Hollywood; the last silent produced by one of the major studios was MGM's ''Film/{{The Kiss|1929}}'' in November 1929.

As the talkies came in many studios accommodated theaters that hadn't rushed to invest in talkie technology by offering some of their features in both silent and sound versions (e.g., [[Creator/AlfredHitchcock Hitchcock's]] ''Blackmail'' [1929]). Other late silent films were offered with optional recorded soundtracks (synchronized music and sound effects, but no dialogue).

See also: EarlyFilms, FilmsOfThe1920s

See also MimeAndMusicOnlyCartoon, which are basically animated silent films. And then there are [[NotableMusicVideos music videos]]. Any video that attempts to tell a story (for example, the famous "Take On Me" video by Music/{{aha}}) is basically a short silent film with musical accompaniment.

A bit of trivia: Did you know that the first four UsefulNotes/{{Academy Award}}s for Best Cinematography all went to silent films? Because of the cumbersome sound-synchronization cameras and recording equipment of the early talkie era, they were rarely shot on location, giving silent film cinematographers a distinct advantage. Those first four winners were

* ''Film/{{Sunrise}}'' (1927/28) -- Charles Rosher and Karl Struss
* ''Film/WhiteShadowsInTheSouthSeas'' (1928/29) -- Clyde De Vinna
* ''With Byrd at the South Pole'' (1929/30) -- Joseph T. Rucker and Willard Van Der Veer
* ''Film/{{Tabu}}'' (1930/31) -- Floyd Crosby

Lee Garmes won the first Best Cinematography Oscar to go to a talkie for ''Shanghai Express'' (1931/32).

----
[[foldercontrol]]
[[folder:Notable silent films]]
* Most of the movies listed in EarlyFilms
** Shorts
*** ''Film/TheAdventurer''
*** ''Film/BigBusiness''
*** ''Film/TheBlacksmith''
*** ''Film/TheBoat''
*** ''Film/ConeyIsland''
*** ''Film/{{Convict 13}}''
*** ''Film/{{Cops}}''
*** ''Film/TheCure''
*** ''Film/ADogsLife''
*** ''Film/EasyStreet''
*** ''Film/TheFireman''
*** ''Film/TheGoat''
*** ''Film/TheGreatTrainRobbery''
*** ''Film/TheHauntedHouse''
*** ''Film/HardLuck''
*** ''Film/TheHighSign''
*** ''Film/TheIdleClass''
*** ''Film/TheImmigrant''
*** ''Film/TheKiss''
*** ''Film/TheLoveNest''
*** ''Film/MabelsStrangePredicament''
*** ''Film/MyWifesRelations''
*** ''Film/{{Neighbors 1920}}''
*** ''Film/OneWeek''
*** ''Film/ThePaleface''
*** ''Film/PassTheGravy''
*** ''Film/ThePilgrim''
*** ''Film/TheRink''
*** ''Film/RoundhayGardenScene''
*** ''Film/TheScarecrow''
*** ''Film/ShoulderArms''
*** ''Film/TheTramp''
*** ''Film/ATripToTheMoon''
** Features
*** ''Film/TheBattleshipPotemkin''
*** ''Film/TheBigParade''
*** ''Film/TheBirthOfANation1915''
*** ''Film/TheBurningOfRedLotusTemple''
*** ''Film/TheCabinetOfDrCaligari''
*** ''Film/TheCameraman''
*** ''Theatre/TheCatAndTheCanary''
*** ''Film/{{Chang}}''
*** ''Film/UnChienAndalou''
*** ''Film/TheCircus''
*** ''Film/TheCossacks''
*** ''Film/TheCrowd''
*** ''Film/TheDocksOfNewYork''
*** ''Film/TheFamilySecret''
*** ''Film/{{Faust}}''
*** ''Film/FleshAndTheDevil''
*** ''Film/FoolishWives''
*** ''Film/TheFourHorsemenOfTheApocalypse''
*** ''Film/TheFreshman''
*** ''Film/TheGeneral''
*** ''Film/GirlShy''
*** ''Film/TheGolem''
*** ''Film/TheGoldRush''
*** ''Film/GoWest''
*** ''Film/GrandmasBoy1922''
*** ''Film/{{Grass}}''
*** ''Film/{{Greed}}''
*** ''Film/{{Haxan}}''
*** ''Film/TheHunchbackOfNotreDame''
*** ''Film/{{Intolerance}}''
*** ''Film/TheIronHorse''
*** ''Film/{{It|1927}}''
*** ''Film/TheJazzSinger'' (Contrary to popular belief, most of the movie was silent)
*** ''Film/TheKidBrother''
*** ''Film/TheKingOfKings''
*** ''Film/TheKid1921''
*** ''Film/TheLodger''
*** ''Film/TheMagician''
*** ''Film/ManWithAMovieCamera''
*** ''[[Film/TheMerryWidow1925 The Merry Widow]]''
*** ''Film/{{Metropolis}}''
*** ''Film/MissLuluBett''
*** ''Film/NanookOfTheNorth''
*** ''Napoléon''
*** ''Film/TheNavigator''
*** ''Film/NeverWeaken''
*** ''Film/{{Nosferatu}}''
*** ''Film/{{October}}''
*** ''Film/OurHospitality''
*** ''Film/PandorasBox''
*** ''[[Film/ThePassionOfJoanOfArc The Passion of Joan of Arc]]''
*** ''Film/ThePhantomCarriage''
*** ''Film/ThePhantomOfTheOpera1925''
*** ''Film/SafetyLast''
*** ''Film/SevenChances''
*** ''Film/TheSheik''
*** ''Film/SherlockJr''
** ''Film/SnowWhite1916''
*** ''Film/TheSonOfTheSheik''
*** ''Film/{{Speedy}}''
*** ''Film/SteamboatBillJr''
*** ''Film/StellaMaris''
*** ''Film/{{Strike}}''
*** ''Film/TheStrongMan''
*** ''Film/TheStudentPrinceInOldHeidelberg''
*** ''Film/{{Sunrise}}''
*** ''[[Film/TheThiefOfBagdad1924 The Thief of Bagdad]]''
*** ''Film/ThreeAges''
*** ''Film/TilliesPuncturedRomance''
*** ''Film/TheTollOfTheSea''
*** ''[[Film/{{Underworld1927}} Underworld]]''
*** ''Film/TheUnholyThree''
*** ''Film/TheUnknown''
*** ''Film/WhyBeGood''
*** ''Film/AWomanOfParis''
[[/folder]]
----

!!Notable silents from the talkie era:
* ''Film/CityLights'' (1931) -- Creator/CharlieChaplin's first refusal to acknowledge talkies
* ''Film/{{Tabu}}'' (1931)--the last film of F.W. Murnau, about a forbidden romance between two Pacific Islanders
* Silent film production lasted quite a bit longer in Asia. Films from China or Japan produced in the 1930s include:
** ''Film/PeachBlossomWeepsTearsOfBlood'' (1931)
** ''Film/TokyoChorus'' (1931)
** ''Film/WildRose'' (1932)
** ''Film/TheGoddess'' (1934)
** ''Film/AStoryOfFloatingWeeds'' (1934)
* ''Film/ModernTimes'' (1936) -- Creator/CharlieChaplin's second refusal to acknowledge talkies
* ''The Thief'' (1952) -- spy thriller starring Ray Milland, told without any dialogue
* ''Film/SilentMovie'' (1976) -- Creator/MelBrooks makes a tribute to silent slapstick
* ''Film/{{Koyaanisqatsi}}'' (1983) -- Kind of a documentary, but really more of a film collage portraying the state of modern civilization, told without any dialogue or narration
* ''Film/SidewalkStories'' (1989) -- remake of Chaplin's ''The Kid'', set amongst the homeless of Greenwich Village, without any dialogue or any title cards
* ''Film/BrandUponTheBrain'' (2006) -- LeFilmArtistique from Guy Maddin, accompanied by narration from Creator/IsabellaRossellini
* ''Film/DaftPunksElectroma'' (2006) -- film about two robots trying to become human; no dialogue, lots of desert trekking
* ''Film/{{Tejut}}'' (2007) -- Hungarian film composed of multiple silent [[LeaveTheCameraRunning static Oners]].
* ''Film/TheArtist'' (2011) -- A deliberately {{Retraux}} romantic comedy about, appropriately enough, a silent movie star who struggles to adjust to talkies
* ''Film/AllIsLost'' (2013) -- Creator/RobertRedford as a sailor alone on his yacht who struggles to survive when the yacht founders. Almost completely dialogue-free.

!!Notable talkies about the silent film era:
* ''Film/SunsetBoulevard'' (1950)
* ''Film/SinginInTheRain'' (1952)
* ''Film/TheComic'' (1969)
* ''Film/{{Nickelodeon}}'' (1976)
* ''Film/{{Hugo}}'' (2011)

!!Notable silent film stars:
* Creator/FattyArbuckle
* Creator/CharlieChaplin
* Creator/RonaldColman
* Creator/LonChaney
* Creator/GaryCooper
* Creator/DoloresDelRio
* Creator/DouglasFairbanks
* Creator/GretaGarbo
* Creator/JohnGilbert
* Creator/LillianGish
* Creator/PauletteGoddard
* Creator/BusterKeaton
* Creator/LaurelAndHardy
* Creator/MaxLinder
* Creator/HaroldLloyd
* Creator/MaryPickford
* Creator/LarrySemon
* Creator/NormaShearer
* Creator/RudolphValentino
* Creator/ConradVeidt
* Creator/AnnaMayWong

!!See also
* UsefulNotes/TheSilentAgeOfAnimation
----