The Best Films of 1922 According to Critics of the Time (and All of Them Are on Home Media!)

One thing I always find fascinating is to study the best films according to silent era critics and audiences and then compare their choices to what we like today. Are you ready to see which ten pictures from 1922 were voted best by the critics? The Film Daily Year Book has the list so let’s dive in!

And in alphabetical order the films are:

Blood and Sand

Rudolph Valentino had already been setting hearts aflutter in films set in Argentina and Algiers and he did the same with this drama of sunny Spain. And for those looking for a female equivalent, utterly Nita Naldi smoldered.

Available on DVD.

Grandma’s Boy

The lone comedy in the bunch, Harold Lloyd stars as a timid lad who nonetheless aspires to win the hand of Mildred Davis.

Available on DVD.

Nanook of the North

The iconic documentary with more than its share of controversy. We are still feeling its influence in non-fiction (non-fictionish?) filmmaking.

Available on DVD and Bluray.

Oliver Twist

Jackie Coogan and Lon Chaney in a Dickens adaptation? Yes, please!

Released on DVD. (This one is region 2 but the set is highly recommended, it’s all silent Dickens and a bargain.)

Orphans of the Storm

The Gish sisters being battered by the cruel winds of fate… in France! Again. Well, this time the French Revolution is on and they need to evade Madame Guillotine.

Available on DVD.

The Prisoner of Zenda

The original Ruritanian romance and Ramon Novarro’s breakout role, a rare villain part but his charm was unmistakable.

Read my review here.

Available on DVD.

Robin Hood

Douglas Fairbanks took his athletic prowess to Sherwood Forest and swashbuckler epics were never the same.

Available on DVD.

Smilin’ Through

Norma Talmadge’s tearjerker of a love that would not die. It was remade several times in the sound era.

Available on DVD.

Tol’able David

My personal pick for the best of 1922, this is the story of a young man discovering himself, growing up and learning that Ernest Torrence throws a nasty punch. The climactic fight is famous for a reason.

Read my review here.

Available on DVD.

When Knighthood Was in Flower

The Marion Davies super-epic tells the story of King Henry VIII’s feisty little sister and her fight to marry her love.

Available on DVD and Bluray.

So, those are the films. Which pictures would you add? Which 1922 film is your favorite? Be sure to share!

P.S. Release dates in the silent era were a bit wonky so some of these titles may be generally considered 1921 or 1923 pictures.

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12 Replies to “The Best Films of 1922 According to Critics of the Time (and All of Them Are on Home Media!)”

  1. My favorites from this wonderful list would be Robin Hood and Grandma’s Boy. The latter is among those lesser-known Lloyd gems that get overshadowed by Safety Last and the like.

  2. Tol’able David is certainly great! Another good one would be Nosferatu, but I guess my favourite is Dr Mabuse. If one allows taking some liberties, then my clear choice would be Phantom Carriage, which had its US release in 1922.

    While I like several acting performances in Orphans of the Storm, it totally lacks the finesse which Rex Ingram achieved in Scaramouche. Both are Hollywood versions of the French revolution, so it’s natural to compare them.

    1. Yes, the release dates were incredibly imprecise at this time so I am not particularly picky about them. The organizers of these lists had a problem with it themselves. I think Robin Hood ended up on the 1923 list as well because of oddities of release schedules. They had to write in a little explanation as to how the same movie could be in two years!

  3. My personal faves of 1922 aren’t on the critics list, but they are Häxen, Benjamin Christensen’s documentary about witches, and Nosferatu, FW Murnau’s classic unauthorized Dracula adaptation.

  4. There are many good movies on the list, but I will let my bias towards silent comedy show and pick. Grandma’s Boy. The Prisoner of Zenda is second.

  5. Horror is one of my niche interests, so I would probably pick Haxan & Nosferatu as equal favorites of 1922. But for years, when I would show films to friends who didn’t share my love of it, first place would almost always be given to Tol’able David. Few could resist its human warmth & appeal & few movies better show the power, depth, & universality of silent film.

    Having long ago worn out my tape, some weeks ago I bought the Flicker Alley (Image) disc & have just watched it. It was like seeing this oft viewed favorite for the first time! Visual quality is excellent but the Robert Israel score is simply brilliant, worth listening to for its own sake. Thanks for recommending it.

    1. So cool we are reviewing films from the silent era!! Only have a few in my collection from ’22 so I can’t say what is best..they are all excellent and bring something to the table. Salome was very good . What about One Exciting Night with a young Henry Hull?

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