The key word here being legal, not necessarily free. Speedcine, currently in beta at http://www.speedcine.com/, is a listing of roughly 13,000 feature-length movies that are available legally online, whether it be through a free service or something like NetFlix or Amazon’s Video-on-Demand.
The site defines feature-length as over 60 minutes, so you won’t find short features and such here. There also isn’t a huge amount of detail provided with the movies; the site wants to focus on indexing those feature-lengths which are available online and leave the detail to other sites like IMDB, I guess. (Speedcine hopes to have 25,000 movies in its index by the end of the year.)
The front page has an index of movies, though it’s not complete. (Speedcine’s about page says “Not every film is included in the A-Z index; some are only accessible through the Search Box.”) There’s a switch that allows you to browse through just free movies, or all movies. Buttons allow you to quickly jump to different parts of the alphabet.
I expected that all the movies here (at least all the free ones) would be old, out-of-copyright offerings. But that wasn’t the case. I found movies all the way from the 30s to a couple of years ago. Looking just for the free offerings found hundreds of movies; you don’t have to spend money to find something to watch here. (It also brought home the sad fact that many of the older movies are NOT available online, even as paid offerings; “Dinner at Eight” is a fantastic movie and it should be made available digitally.)
If you can’t find anything in the index go ahead and do a keyword search, but remember you’re searching for title. You’re not going to have any luck searching by actor.
Each listing in the search engine has its own page, showing different options for free viewing, rental, purchase, or subscription, though of course not all options are available for all movies. In this page for Stripes, for example, there are options to view it freely (at Crackle) or to buy it (via Amazon’s VOD).
There are a couple of things that make Speedcine a little difficult to use. First of all, you can’t search by actor name. Unless the movie title is something like “Jackie Chan’s: The Myth” you’ll have to go to IMDB and get a list of the actor’s movies and search for them one by one. This is cumbersome. Second, there are no tags for movie genres. If you’re a fan of westerns or martial arts movies, you’ll find plenty of free stuff using Speedcine, but there’s no way to easily separate out those titles in the search engine as it stands.
I still recommend visiting Speedcine, though. There are lots of movies here from several different providers. And as it is in beta, I have great hopes of some kind of tagging scheme or way to pull information from IMDB. Even a Firefox extension to allow you to do a Speedcine search from IMDB would be useful.