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The White Sister (1923)

A young woman becomes a nun when she believes her sweetheart has been killed, but things get complicated when he returns alive.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Capt. Giovanni Severini
Marchesa di Mola
Monsignor Saracinesca
Charles Lane ...
Juliette La Violette ...
Madame Bernard
Gustavo Serena ...
Prof. Ugo Severi (as Signor Serena)
Alfredo Bertone ...
Filmore Durand
Roman Ibanez ...
Count del Ferice
Alfredo Martinelli ...
Alfredo del Ferice
Ida Carloni Talli ...
Mother Superior (as Carloni Talli)
Giovanni Viccola ...
Gen. Mazzini
Antonio Barda ...
Alfredo's Tutor
Giacomo D'Attino ...
Solicitor to the Prince
Michele Gualdi ...
Solicitor to Count


Lillian Gish is the daughter of a rich Italian count who is killed in a fall from his horse. Though Lillian stands to inherit a large estate, her older half-sister burns the will and thus inherits the property herself, throwing Lillian into poverty. Fortunately, she is engaged to marry the dashing officer Ronald Coleman, but he is captured by Arabs on an expedition to Africa. Dedicating her life to his memory, Lillian becomes a nun, unaware that her lover has escaped his captors and returning to Italy! The climax takes place against a backdrop of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Written by Ed Lengel <egl2r@faraday.clas.virginia.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A love that outlived passion! See more »


Drama | Romance





Release Date:

1925 (Austria)  »

Also Known As:

Die weiße Schwester  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Title Card: Because of his hopeless love for Angela, the artist had painted her as an unattainable ideal - a woman too holy for mere man to possess.
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Referenced in Die Nacht der Regisseure (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

Lillian Takes Her Vows
31 May 2009 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

This second version of The White Sister, an earlier silent was done in 1915 was the first project of the Gish sisters after they had left the paternal care of D.W. Griffith. Lillian Gish spared no expense in this very long silent film, 123 minutes was quite a demand on the audience's attention. She and director Henry King took the principal cast members to Italy to film on location, something rarely done back in that day.

Gish and King also personally selected their leading man in Ronald Colman who had appeared in several British silents and one American feature before The White Sister. According to the Citadel Film series book, The Films of Ronald Colman, Gish and King saw him on the stage.

Now Ronald Colman had one of the greatest speaking voices in the English language, something we know since the advent of talkies and Colman's sound debut in Bulldog Drummond. But what attracted Gish and King to him was the swarthiness of his complexion, they thought he would pass convincingly for an Italian on the silent screen.

He and Gish made a fine screen team. The story today is rather old fashioned and Gish's saintliness is a bit much at times. Still the film does hold up well.

Gish is the younger half sister of Gail Kane and both are the daughters of Italian duke Charles Lane. When Lane is killed during a hunting accident, Kane quickly finds her father's will and burns it, effectively disinheriting Gish who was they used to say, born on the wrong side of the blanket.

Gish's Catholic faith sees her through the crisis and also the love of young officer Ronald Colman who originally was Kane's guy. Later on he's chosen to head a military mission to North Africa in what is now Libya. This was in the colonial expansionist period in the 19th century in a newly united Italy. But he's reported killed and Gish in her grief surrenders herself to her religion and becomes a nun.

That's as far as I'll go, the ending is not typical of Hollywood normally would give its audience. Still the loose ends of the plot are neatly tied together.

I'm surprised Gail Kane did not come out of this film with a bigger reputation. Her portrayal what might be called the Black Sister is really quite good.

The location cinematography in Italy is first rate and the special effects with Versuvius erupting and a dam bursting for its time are also nicely done. The White Sister is worth a look, I think it's better than the 1933 sound version with Clark Gable and Helen Hayes.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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