I recently found out that Google’s infinitely popular YouTube video service now offers over a thousand full-length movies for free. Many other full-length movies are also available on YouTube for a fee, typically about $3, but I found enough of a selection of free movies to keep me well entertained for many hours.
The easiest way to locate the free, full-length movies on YouTube is to simply go to www.youtube.com/movies, click on the “All Categories” button, and then select “Free Movies.” Once there, the movies are divided into genres, with some duplication if a movie falls into more than one genre; for example, “GhostBusters 2” is listed under both the “Comedy” and “Family” headings. Clicking on the genre title will display the first 63 of the free movies in that category, with a button on the bottom of the page to move to the next page of the category. Moving the cursor over the movie poster for each movie displays a summary of the movie, its date, the stars of the movie, and a color-coded rating system.
My personal favorite category of full-length movies is the Documentary group, since I am a fan of nonfiction. YouTube has 246 full-length nonfiction documentaries, including the Oscar winning “Why We Fight” series of World War II movies that were produced by the Army Signal Corps, narrated by some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, and produced by some of Hollywood’s greatest producers. Dozens of other military history documentaries are available including the original “Memphis Belle” (filmed in color about the B-17’s 25 missions over Europe), “The Battle of Britain” and “The Fighting Lady” (1945 Oscar Winner for Best Documentary, filmed in Technicolor about an aircraft carrier in the Pacific). Also in the Documentary group are dozens of biographies including Nanook of the North, Mohammed Ali, Charles Manson, Marilyn Monroe, the Dalai Lama, Jackie Robinson, Evel Knievel, Lou Gehrig and James Dean. Other documentaries cover environmental issues, political controversies, travel, historical events, technological history, international affairs, and a variety of other nonfiction topics.
I sent the link for Animations & Cartoons to my daughters to have a source of entertainment for my grandchildren, as there are 41 free movies available. These movies, obviously primarily intended for children, include animated Bible stories, “Gulliver’s Travels” (two different versions), “Casper and Wendy’s Ghostly Adventures” (Casper, the friendly ghost, first appeared in movie theaters in the 1930s and on TV in the ’50s), “Peter Pan,” “Popeye,” “Superman,” “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” “Hansel and Gretel,” “Swiss Family Robinson” and “Tom Sawyer.”
For those who might like comedies, YouTube offers 335 free comedy movies, ranging from classics like Charlie Chaplin films to contemporary stand-up comedy. Since I prefer the classical comedy movies to many of the more modern comedies, I have found the free movies featuring W. C. Fields, Buster Keaton, Amos & Andy, Abbott and Costello, Danny Kaye, Laurel and Hardy, and Will Rogers often displayed more comedic skill and talent than most of today’s popular comics. For those who disagree and prefer the newer comic styles, there are more than 200 of those to choose from in this category.
Sometimes it is nice to sit in the living room and watch movies suitable for the entire family, and the Family category offers 94 such titles. While a few are duplicated from the Animations & Cartoons and Comedy categories, there is still enough of a unique selection of family movies to entertain a family for several months. Some of the better known family movies available for free include several of the Shirley Temple series, “Heidi,” “Rescue from Gilligan’s Island” (with the original TV cast), several religious movies, the original “Miracle on 34th Street,” musicals, several classic Christmas movies, Hemmingway classics, and other movies suitable for family viewing.Drama enthusiasts may find some interesting dramas among the 639 free movies available, while horror aficionados may appreciate some the 468 horror movies available. Sometimes it is enjoyable for us adults to snuggle on the couch and watch a good Mystery & Suspense movie; the 226 free movies in that genre could account for a lot of couch time. While many of the Mystery & Suspense movies are relatively recent productions, again I find that some of the older classics are among the most suspenseful, such as the several of the Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes and John Barrymore features.
I am cognizant that many people enjoy crime movies, and the 238 free crime movies available should satisfy most crime fans. The movies available range from one of the first movies ever made, Edison’s 1903 “The Great Train Robbery” (also listed under the Classic category), to crime movies released over the past few years.Science Fiction has always been among the most successful movies in theaters, and YouTube offers 138 free titles. Among the most popular Sci-Fi movies listed are “The Lost World — Story of Atlantis,” Boris Karloff in “The Snake People,” “Teenage Zombies,” “Southland Tales,” “Alien Uprising,” “Planet of the Dinosaurs” and enough other sci-fi titles to amuse fans of the genre for many hours.
Romantics may appreciate the 147 free movies in the Romance category. These range from classical romantic movies such as the 1938 “Tarzan’s Revenge” and films starring heart throbs Gina Lollobrigida, Susan Hayward, Elizabeth Taylor, Carole Lombard, Spencer Tracy, Jimmy Stewart, William Powell and Myrna Loy. Some of the more modern romance movies incorporate more “adult” content and themes than the classics, but may still meet the needs of many contemporary romantics.With more than a thousand free feature length movies available on YouTube, many in DVD quality, this broad selection of movies should delight anyone at a price that cannot be beat.