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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

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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


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







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:

$657,532, 31 December 1924
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Inspiration Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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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Version of The White Sister (1915) See more »

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User Reviews

Gish Shines in Epic
19 February 2010 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

White Sister, The (1923)

*** (out of 4)

Adaptation of the Francis Marion Crawford novel, this screen version has Lillian Gish playing Angela Chiaromonte, the woman who gets cut out of her rightful inheritance by her evil step sister (Gail Kane). She then suffers a second heartache when the man she loves (Ronald Colman) is reported dead. With nowhere else to turn she decides to become a nun since they were the ones who saved her from the streets but soon the man she loved comes back but can she break her vow to God to take him back? This is a very handsome production of a novel that was filmed quite a few times including a remake ten years later with Clark Gable. This version is certainly very easy on the eyes and it features some very good performances but clocking it at nearly 140-minutes, the running time certainly doesn't do it any favors. The biggest problem is the running time as many scenes just seem to go on and on and on when they could have been cut down and it probably would have made the film float a lot better. Just take a look at the first thirty-minutes and everything that happens could have been told just as well with about ten or more minutes cut down. With that said, the film is still worth viewing for several reasons with the performances being one. Gish does her usual great job and really digs deep into this character and brings it to life as someone we really do care for and feel sorry for. As expected, we have some wonderful close ups of Gish's brilliant eyes that have no problem showing her sadness. Also, Gish is given another sequence where they were clearly trying to recapture the "terror" sequence from BROKEN BLOSSOMS but it doesn't work nearly as well here. The scene involves her learning that the man she loves is dead. Colman, in his screen debut, turns in a very good performance as well as he too really delivers in terms of the character's emotions and the pain he's going through as the woman he loves might not be able to love him. The direction by King is very good throughout and especially towards the end when the climax features a large volcano erupting and causing major panic in the streets. Fans of Gish and silent films will certainly want to check this out but I'm sure others will probably be bothered by the long running time. I know some versions are out there running nearly forty-minutes shorter and I actually checked a bootleg I had bought before watching the restored version on TCM and it actually only runs 66-minutes!!! One day I might try watching that version just to see how the film plays with more than fifty-percent of its time missing.

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