American actress Olive Thomas second to last film was «The Flapper», which was released a few weeks before the untimely death of the star in Paris. It is the best preserved of all her films and is currently available in several format online. This silent comedy film was directed by Alan Crosland and it was the first first movie in the United States to portray the «flapper» lifestyle, which became a cultural craze or fad in the 1920s.
Miss Thomas appears as Genevieve King, a southern youngster who is sent to a northern boarding school by a more or less harassed father. At the military academy across the way is Bill, Genevieve’s childhood playmate. This part is excellently taken by a boy actor, Theodore Weston, Jr. Bill’s scenes of calf-like romance with Genevieve and his showing off before the smaller boys at the academy all strike a very real and amusing note.
The situation confronting Genevieve when the head of the school goes to drag her away from a country club dance whither she has gone with Richard Channing, a handsome stranger idolized from afar by all the girls, is real in its comedy and excellently played.
They work in a very amusing farcical sequence when Genevieve returns to her home dressed in the latest vamp outfit from New York. She shocks all the natives by feigning a «double life.» It is in straightening out this tangle in which two crooks are introduced, that the director has run into a totally out of place serious mood and burdened the action with tire- some detail.
Here is a delightful and real little light comedy idea that is handicapped at the end by a lot of superfluous footage. At the start and up to a point at which the average length feature would conclude, the action is rarely amusing, but there is too much detail employed in straightening out the tangle at the end and the action becomes wearisome. Some careful cutting would result in a mighty fine picture, especially if the editor removed some of the scenes in which the director has taken the story altogether too seriously. Frances Marion’s -plot and the wealth of amusing situations she has provided center around the life of a young boarding school girl who, realistically, wants to be thought older than she is and who, in the bargain, would like to be looked upon as sophistication itself. It is a role ideally suited to Olive Thomas, one which she handles extraordinarily well. Furthermore, the director has for the greater part of the picture kept in a light mood, only at the end falling into a serious vein that makes his work remarkably dull.
On the whole, however, «The Flapper» can be considered a very unusual comedy. It is splendidly subtitled and there are a wealth of pretty snow scenes as backgrounds. William Carleton and Arthur Housman are others who appear in the star’s support.
Wid’s Daily recommendation for movie theaters:
If they edited this in the latter reels you would be sure of a pretty nearly perfect light comedy. It deals with a young girl in as real a fashion as the Booth Tarkington stories do with young boys. And that’s saying a lot. But whether the film is edited or not you can run it and be pretty sure that it will more than satisfy. The majority of it is so good that they’ll be quite liable to overlook the bad spots in the last two reels. Make your appeal to the girls and the feminine sex in general in your advertising. A line such as «The adventures of a real girl who went to boarding school and wanted to be thought ‘wicked’; full of humor ; one big laugh’ might be used. If your crowd likes Olive Thomas play her up well as she does fine work here. Also mention Frances Marion’s name. She is one of the few very well known screen authors. Cash in on the publicity and popularity that are hers.
A perfect nut sundae jag is «The Flapper.» It is all about the goings-on of a silly, harmless and charming boarding school flapper who wants to be tough and doesn’t care how many ice cream sodas she drinks. It is a regular banana frappe of a picture; amusing without being inebriating. Olive Thomas is the most delectable flapper that ever evaded a chaperone. Her tiny step-sister has an important supporting role which she plays enchantingly.