Thorpe began his Hollywood career as a director of vaudeville shows and plays. In 1923 he began making films, most notably low-budget comedies and westerns. In the studio system in Hollywood in the 1930s he was a popular director of MGM because he always veered his films under the financial budget. This he hung on the dubious fame that he turn each scene only once, earning him the derisive nickname " Mr. One Take " earned. Although he never made it big, but he turned in a career of over 40 years 185 movies.
When his best films are Ivanhoe - The Black Knight and The Prisoner of Zenda, both classic adventure film, but the latter was a 1:1 remake of the film by John Cromwell from 1937. For that he should so later claimed David O. Selznick, the producer of the Cromwell - version, set himself a Moviola with the 1937 film version to the studio and scene after scene reshot exactly. For an Oscar, he was never nominated, but he was always a guarantee of solid work and good cinema entertainment. His son, Jerry Thorpe was also a noted film director.
- Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame ( 6101 Hollywood Blvd. )