This article is continually updated to reflect removed and newly available movies. Rachel Grozanick, Drew Prindle, Brandon Widder, and Rick Stella contributed to this article.
Back in 2011, Google quietly rolled out the YouTube.com/movies section. Over the past few years it has amassed a library of titles you can rent, purchase, or stream for free, and today, there’s more content in the movie section than you could watch in a lifetime — and that’s not even counting all the full-length films uploaded by users. So to help save you some time in your search for something to watch, we’ve sifted through all the movies the site has to offer — free, paid, legal, and not-so-legal — to bring you this list of the best full movies on YouTube.
Free Movies (legally uploaded)
YouTube has a pretty sizable list of movies you can stream for free, but truth be told, not many are worth watching. The overwhelming majority of them are obscure B-movies that’re so bad they make you want to gouge your eyeballs out with a hot grapefruit spoon. Movies so genuinely awful that, if you dare to watch them, you’ll find yourself awestruck by the idea that somebody actually took the time to shoot, edit, and distribute such garbage. That being said, there are a few freebies on here that we were pleasantly surprised to find, all of which we’ve listed below.
As the name denotes, this documentary looks at factors that led to world poverty and the forces that are pushing the wage gap further and further apart. Martin Sheen lends his voice to narrate the movie, examining the barrios of Latin America and slums of Africa, while showcasing interviews with historians, economists, and sociologists. It isn’t a particularly happy film, but it will change the way you look at people in poverty and might motivate you to examine your lifestyle.
An eccentric millionaire invites five people to party at a mansion and tells them if they can stay the entire night, they each get $10,000. However, this isn’t an ordinary house and the guests become uneasy when they are given a pistol at the door, and the wife warns them her husband is psychotic. Things take a turn for the dangerous as they discover their host is hiding something and one guest turns up dead. Unfortunately, you likely won’t experience the original gimmicks which made the film a standout during its theatrical release.
A chilling adaption of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Nosferatu represents an eerie vampire movie in an era well before vampires were good looking. On a business trip to Transylvania, Thomas Hutter wakes up with two puncture wounds on his neck and his life is changed forever. He must defeat the terrifying Count Orlock, who is holding the city hostage. The black-and-white cinematography and the film’s adaptive elements are superb, even if they substantially deviate from the novel.
Known as one of the original horror movies, George A. Romero’s classic follows seven people who find themselves trapped in a barn in Pennsylvania as the terrifying walking dead surround them. They have to try to survive without understanding the terror that lurks outside. The movie has been noted as the first zombie film and it’s influences can be seen in everything from 28 Days Later to Shaun of the Dead, quickly revolutionizing the horror genre on a budget of a mere $114,000.
This film noir follows Martha Ivers, a defiant orphaned teenager who ends up accidentally-but-kind-of-on-purpose killing her authoritarian aunt, her guardian and the town matriarch. 18 years later, Martha is married to Walter, the only witness to her crime, whom she does not love but agreed to marry after his ambitious father helped her avoid the consequences, placing Martha — now the heiress of her aunt’s fortune and power —under his thumb. The movie is worth watching alone for Kirk Douglas, who delivers a brilliant on-screen debut performance as Martha’s weak alcoholic husband that’s far different from his later tough guy roles.
Writers of the first season of Hell on Wheels may have taken some cues from this classic John Wayne-produced western. Former sheriff Ben Stride is on a mission of vengeance, tracking down and killing the seven men who killed his wife in their robbery of the Wells Fargo station where she worked. With a few plot twists and a pair of illicit lovers, pining for each other but sticking to their morals, this film might not be a John Ford, but it’s an excellent example of the genre, regardless.
A esoteric doumentary for cinephiles and filmmakers, From Dogma to Dogville, explores the miniDV revolution of the late ’90s that influenced the independent cinema scene. Though a bit dry, the film’s interviews with three renowned cameramen who were particularly significant during that period provide insight into the process behind such films as My Brother Tom, A Map of the Heart, and The Feast.
Ever wonder where the term “gaslighting” came from? This psychological drama is the first of two film adaptations of the play by the same name — all of which, combined, gave society the term for the particular type of psychological abuse they depict. Paul and Bella, newlyweds, move into a house that has remained empty since a wealthy old woman was murdered there. Little by little, Paul convinces Bella she is losing her sanity in order to continue his nefarious pursuits.
One of the best prototype second-wave feminist films, His Girl Friday, is a hilarious Hawksian farce with electric chemistry between stars Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. Hildy (Russell) may be newspaper editor Burns’s (Grant) protégée (and ex-wife) but when she announces to Burns that she’s leaving the business to get married, he concocts at scheme to delay her departure. Hijinks ensue and Hildy, not quite as unwitting a pawn in Burns’ game as he thinks, shows that the student has surpassed the master — while discovering that the student might also still be in love with the master.
Alfred Hitchcock’s penultimate British film, The Lady Vanishes, was also his first to received wide box-office success and helped propel his career across the Atlantic to Hollywood. The film is a comic mystery, filled with cartoonish supporting characters and unlikely but entertaining capers. When a woman goes missing on a train, only a beautiful young dilettante seems able to recall that she was ever there to begin with and begins a search, aided by a handsome young musicologist.