The Flapper

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The Flapper
The flapper - glass slide - 1920.jpg
Glass slide for the film
Directed by Alan Crosland
Produced by Myron Selznick
Screenplay by Frances Marion
Story by Frances Marion
Starring Olive Thomas
Warren Cook
Cinematography John W. Brown
Selznick Pictures Corporation
Distributed by Select Pictures Corporation
Release date
  • May 10, 1920 (1920-05-10) (United States)
Running time
88 minutes
Country United States
Language Silent (English intertitles)
The Flapper

The Flapper is a 1920 American silent comedy film starring Olive Thomas. Directed by Alan Crosland, the film was the first in the United States to portray the "flapper" lifestyle which would soon become a 1920s fad.


16-year-old Genevieve 'Ginger' King (Thomas), is growing up in the boring town of Orange Springs, Florida where having a soda with a boy is scandalous. Because of her behavior and yearning for a thrilling life her father decides to send her to a boarding school, Mrs. Paddle's School for Young Ladies, which is run by strict disciplinarian Mrs. Paddles (Marcia Harris) in Lake Placid, New York.

Despite the strictness, the girls have fun getting into flapper lifestyle trouble including flirting. Richard Channing (William P. Carleton), an older man, rides past the seminary every day, prompting romantic fantasies among the school girls. When 16-year-old Ginger connives a sleigh ride with Channing, she tells him she's "about twenty". Ginger ends up falling for him.

Ginger gets in trouble with the headmistress when she sneaks out to the local country club where Channing is having a party. One of her schoolmates named Hortense (Katherine Johnston) tells on her, but her motive is to get the headmistress out of the way so she can rob the school's safe and sneak away with her crooked boyfriend Thomas Morran (Arthur Housman). Thanks to a vague note, Ginger goes to a hotel in New York City on her way home from school where Hortense and her boyfriend are. They force her to take the suitcases back with her. The suitcases end up containing the valuables, which include fancy clothes and jewels.

Knowing that Channing has gone to Orange Springs on a yachting trip, Ginger decides to use the clothes and jewels and pretend to be a woman of the world when she goes home. The plan backfires, and her father believes she is lying when she says it's a joke. Detectives show up wanting to know why she has stolen loot, and both her young admirer, Bill, and Channing think she has really become a wicked woman.

Hortense and her crooked boyfriend Morran turn up in Orange Springs to reclaim the loot. Their capture by the police clears Ginger's name and restores her reputation.

The events in the lives of Ginger King and another character are presented as incidents in a (non-fiction) newsreel at the end of the movie.


Production notes[edit]

Frances Marion wrote the screenplay which was responsible for bringing the term flapper, which had been a slang term for many years, into popular use in the United States.[1]

Olive Thomas appeared in only two films after The Flapper. She died in Paris in September 1920.[2]

Home media release[edit]

In 2005, The Flapper was released on Region 1 DVD by the Milestone Collection as part of The Olive Thomas Collection.[3]


  1. ^ Boyer Sagert, Kelly (2010). Flappers: A Guide to an American Subculture. ABC-CLIO. p. 89. ISBN 0-313-37690-5. 
  2. ^ Lowe, Denise (2005). An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Women in Early American Films, 1895-1930: 1895-1930. Haworth Press. p. 526. ISBN 0-7890-1843-8. 
  3. ^ Giddins, Gary (2005-05-17). "Rediscovering Maurice Elvey's Masterpiece". Retrieved 20 November 2012. 

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