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The Olive Thomas Collection: The Flapper/Olive Thomas - Everybody's Sweetheart

4.6 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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(Apr 26, 2005)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

n the heyday of silent films, a winsome ingenue named Olive Thomas had a seemingly charmed life. Born in the mining town of Charleroi, Pennsylvania, her beauty and spirit carried her to New York where she found fame and fortune.


Film history records that during the late Teens of the 20th century, Olive Thomas was the screen's "quintessential American girl" and possibly "the most beautiful woman in the world." The beauty was there for anyone to see: a heart-shaped face, luminous skin and smile, large eyes whose deep blue photographed a lustrous gray. As for quintessential American girlness, she'd been born in the milltown of Charleroi, Pennsylvania (unlike "America's sweetheart" Mary Pickford, who'd been born Canadian), and gone from gingham counters in Charleroi and then New York City, to modeling for the most popular portrait artists of the day, to stardom with the Ziegfeld Follies. Wonderfully natural on screen, she made a passel of movies (eight in 1919 alone), married Mary Pickford's brother Jack, got to define the screen image of "the flapper" (albeit comically), and may have been turning into a real actress when she died in Paris in 1920, either a victim of accidental poisoning or an impetuous suicide.

It's necessary to say "film history records" because the films themselves, by and large, do not survive. One that does, pristinely, is The Flapper (1920), Thomas's next-to-next-to-last movie. Written by the estimable Frances Marion, it's an easygoing comedy about a Southern teen who, sent to a ritzy boarding school up North, gets into mischief while acting the sophisticated grownup to impress a suave gentleman and match wits with a pair of jewel thieves. She's lovely to look at, and there's an exhilarating sequence shot atop a double-decker bus as it bears her along Fifth Avenue--an innocent girl in a vibrant metropolis she had already seduced years earlier.

Completing the Collection is Olive Thomas: Everybody's Sweetheart, an hourlong documentary chronicling the actress's life and career--including her relationships with Flo Ziegfeld and the three Selznicks, Lewis J., Myron, and David--and affording glimpses of some of her other movies. Much of the commentary is supremely fatuous, but not the legend that her ghost haunts the New Amsterdam Theatre where her star first rose. --Richard T. Jameson

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Olive Thomas, Theodore Westman Jr., William P. Carleton, Warren Cook, Katherine Johnston
  • Directors: Alan Crosland, Andie Hicks
  • Writers: Andie Hicks, Frances Marion, Sarah J. Baker
  • Producers: Andie Hicks, Hugh M. Hefner, Hugh Munro Neely
  • Format: Black & White, Color, Full Screen, Silent, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: April 26, 2005
  • Run Time: 145 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007M21ZI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,749 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Olive Thomas Collection: The Flapper/Olive Thomas - Everybody's Sweetheart" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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Unless you are a silent film enthusiast (and if you're reading this review you most likely are) then you've probably never heard of Olive Thomas. Her death in 1920 at the age of only 25 under mysterious circumstances has kept her name from being totally forgotten but this DVD is the first opportunity for us to see first hand what made her "everybody's sweetheart".

Judging from the film THE FLAPPER which makes up more than half this disc, Olive Thomas was a gifted performer who combined the madcap qualities of Mabel Normand with the affable sincerity of Mary Pickford. The film is an occasionally witty somewhat clever comedy about a naive young girl at boarding school who gets mixed up with thieves. It was written by Frances Marion (the top screen writer of the silent era), directed by Alan Crosland (THE JAZZ SINGER), and produced by Lewis Selznick (father 0f Myron and David O.). That's a pretty good pedigree and shows how highly Olive was regarded by her contemporaries. It would be her penultimate film.

At this time Olive had been married to Jack Pickford (Mary's brother) for a few years. It was on a second honeymoon trip to Paris that she suddenly died after taking bichloride of mercury. Was it suicide, murder, or just a horrible accident? We will never know although the Timeline Films documentary OLIVE THOMAS: EVERYBODY'S SWEETHEART that fills out the DVD does draw its own conclusion. It is informative and well produced although a little shallow. There are a wealth of clips and photos and it features narration from Rosanna Arquette.

But back to THE FLAPPER. The print from the George Eastman House is absolutely first rate with hardly a blemish and it's even color tinted and has the original illustrated title cards.
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I had only seen photographs of the beautiful Olive Thomas prior to seeing this delightful film. Olive had more than beauty; she was a marvelous actress and she definitely had star quality. The documentary is a marvelous added bonus which shows clips from what remains intact of her all too brief film legacy. I'd very much love to see her other films whether they are in pristine condition or not. Olive had a definite knack for comedy. It doesn't matter that she was not a virtuous little girl in real life. What is important is that, had she lived, she may have gone on to be one of the biggest stars in the 1920s

and I feel that she would have succeeded. When she is on screen, she dominates every scene she is in and that is star quality. I do hope Milestone will release more of the existing Olive Thomas films. Her talent is on the level of Mary Pickford, Marion Davies, and Clara Bow. It is time for Olive Thomas to receive the credit she deserves. I have become an Olive Thomas fan after seeing only one film of hers. That says a lot. It is tragic that she died just prior to her 26th birthday. Before stars were truly stars, seeing Olive in this superbly directed comedy leaves one wondering, "What if she had lived longer?" It made me think of the great Jean Harlow who died near Olive's age. Both had a great deal more to offer and both had great talent. I am very glad I have "discovered" Olive Thomas and may more of her films be released on DVD and may more that are "presumed lost" be found. I am ready to see more of this actress' work!
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This is yet another excellent DVD by Milestone Films, this time putting together all the available material on Olive Thomas, a popular actress of the mid to late 1910s who has been almost forgotten in our day. This collection contains one very entertaining feature film from 1920, "The Flapper", an interesting and nice hour-long documentary about Olive, and other delightful bits of bonus material to round out the picture. I was impressed by "The Flapper", first of all for its perfect picture quality, and for the high standard of the film in general. One thing that caught my attention was the unusually good art work accompanying the intertitles, and which adds a special touch to the film. But the main focus is, of course, on Olive Thomas and her bubbly personality as she plays a sprightly 16-year-old whose typically-teenage desire to be more grown-up lands her in trouble. With a script by famed screenwriter, Frances Marion, and direction by Alan Crosland, "The Flapper" was a sure hit, and after 85 years it is still as entertaining as ever. There are no complex plots or deep issues; simply a fun, charming and also interesting ride through society of 1920. Olive's peformance is the highlight of the film, and she often reminded me of her famous sister-in-law, Mary Pickford, and it's a shame that hardly any other Olive Thomas films have survived. Judging by snippets from her other films presented in the documentary, her performances were always entertaining, and no doubt she was very popular for both her pesonality and her attractiveness. The documentary helps us to understand Olive better as it covers her entire life, including her start in showbusiness in the Ziegfeld Follies and her tragic death at barely 26 - just when her film career seemed to be really taking off.Read more ›
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