What’s your favorite silent movie tearjerker?

How many hankies do you need to watch these movies? The whole box? Two boxes? Three? Tell me all about it!

I’m not actually a big movietime crier. I cry at a movie maaaaaybe once a year, if that, but there are a few that start the old waterworks.

Tess of the Storm Country (1922) does me in every time. Children of Eve (1915) turned me into a soggy puddle.

What about you? Which silent movies make you look like you won an onion chopping contest? (And this is all theoretical, some people NEVER cry at movies, so just share the ones that made you sad but in a good way.) I look forward to some wonderful, emotional choices!

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32 Replies to “What’s your favorite silent movie tearjerker?”

  1. Two film endings always leave me in tears: the final scene in “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” when Tchernof waves his arms and says “I knew them all!” And the look of resignation on Ramon Novarro’s face in the royal carriage in the last scene of “The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg.” Now, that’s acting!

  2. I agree. City Lights has such a poignant end, I get teary-eyed every single time. I find it hard to believe that Chaplin was so dissatisfied with Virginia Cherrill. She sells those last seconds.

  3. You’re probably referring to feature films, but Chaplin’s short The Vagabond does it for me. It’s so straight-to-the-gut and heartfelt, I could hardly believe it was done by the same guy who had done only knockabout comedies up to then. Probably his most beautiful melodrama, and I mean that as a compliment.

    1. I neglected one that never fails to get me: Sjöström’s The Phantom Chariot. I usually need some eye drops starting with the chariot and its driver going down underwater to load up the drowned man. From pretty much there on to the ending…intermittent waterworks. An amazingly evocative film.

  4. “Visages d’enfants” Jacques Feyder. Jean Forest’s performance as a young boy seeking to reconcile himself to the death of his beloved mother, and his difficulties in bonding to his new stepmother is a tour de force.

  5. A thumbs up on City Lights. I also got teary at the end of The Woman in the Moon (I guess it’s the whole “they’re stranded but have one another”), and I sob thru most of Sunrise. Makes me realize I need to watch all of them again. Got to get my box of tissues first.

    P.S.: I just found your site a couple of weeks ago. Loving it. Always on the lookout for other fans.

  6. I’d have to put in my vote for The Big Parade, the final scene gets me every time.

    (And, not to be a contrarian, but I must be the only person on the planet that didn’t like City Lights.)

  7. I agree about The Big Parade and the Phantom Carriage. And City Lights, but I would also mention Gold Rush. It’s not a sad movie, but the scene where he wakes up and realizes it was a dream really crushes me.

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