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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.


Henry King
1 nomination. See more awards »




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

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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


LILLIAN GISH! What a flood of pleasant memories rushes along at the mere mention of her name! YOU sympathized with her in "The Birth of a Nation." YOU suffered with her in "Hearts of the World." YOU pitied her in "Broken Blossoms." YOU cried over her in "Orphans of the Storm." YOU actually cheered her in "Way Down East." Now when you see her in Henry King's production of "The White Sister" you will be thrilled, captivated, and exalted as never before. See more »


Drama | Romance


Did You Know?


Newspaper Salesman: Cap'n Severi killed!
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Version of The White Sister (1933) See more »

User Reviews

Better than the 1933 version.
6 June 2009 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

THE WHITE SISTER was a pretty decent silent film. However, when it made its way to sound in 1933, the film seemed overly melodramatic and silly. It's amazing what only a decade can do for the same plot. Part of this was the timing and part of it was the casting. While Ronald Colman sounds nothing like an Italian officer, in the silent it didn't matter. However, Clark Gable was too hard to believe in the sound version, as he seemed about as Italian as Chop Suey.

In addition to Colman, the film starred Lillian Gish in her prime. She was one of the biggest stars of the era and had made a career out of playing virginal types of characters. Because of this, she's a good choice for the film though occasionally she does lay it on a bit thick with the sentiment.

Thefilm is about two lovers, Colman and Gish. She is quite rich and he is a dashing young officer in the Italian army. However, when it appears that he's been killed in action in Africa, she is despondent. In addition, he father has just died and her evil half-sister destroyed the will. By Italian law, the older sister is the sole beneficiary, so now Lillian not only thinks she's lost her lover but is penniless and without a home--while the half sister gains a title and a magnificent estate.

Naturally, Colman is found three years later and he returns to Gish--only to find that she's now married...to God!!! Can this sweet nun somehow STILL find happiness? Tune in to see.

The overall plot of the two versions are similar, however, a couple subplots which are in the silent version have been excised in the latter. There was no evil half-sister or being homeless and the final climactic scenes about the volcano were deleted as well. This did tend to give the film more focus and romance in the later film, but it also tended to make it a bit less interesting--especially since with only the love story, there isn't enough to merit watching. So, my advice is to see this original--it's a darn good silent though it's also very, very hard to believe. And, if possible, avoid the 1933 film. it's just not particularly good in any way--though Helen Hayes tries her best.

By the way, in the original version that was NOT filmed, in the end Gish's character DID renounce her vows and marry Coleman. It sure would have been interesting had they done it that way.

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Release Date:

5 September 1923 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Die weiße Schwester See more »

Filming Locations:

Algeria See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

Inspiration Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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