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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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1 nomination. See more awards »


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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:

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?


Capt. Giovanni Severini: It was my great love for you - but now - now I know you belong to God alone. I-I will never see you again...
Angela Chiaromonte: Until God's Great Tomorrow.
See more »


Referenced in Century of Cinema: Die Nacht der Regisseure (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

A Hard Habit to Break
18 December 2007 | by wes-connorsSee all my reviews

In Italy, the Lordly volcano Vesuvius "waves his plume of peace to a smiling city in the valley". Of course, the volcano is, in actuality, "a seething ferment of unrest." The city is equally dominated by the wealthy Chiaromonte family, who live in a monstrous palace. Among them are half-sisters Lillian Gish (as Angela) and Gail Kane (as Marchesa). Ms. Gish is in love with young Ronald Colman (as Govanni Severini); and, they plan to marry. The sisters' father Charles Lane (as Prince Chiaromonte), when not focusing on his devotionals, likes to ride horses; unfortunately, he falls off his horse, and dies.

Wicked sister Kane destroys the Prince's will; and, in the eyes of The Law and The Church, inherits everything. Bad becomes worse when the Catholic church refuses to recognize the deceased Prince's second marriage, which produced Gish; so the wedding with Colman becomes a not-so-blessed event. Finally, Kane throws Gish out of the palace. Later, poverty-stricken Gish is reunited with her beloved Captain Colman. They plan to wed when he returns from a mission to Africa; but, he is reportedly killed, fighting Arab bandits. Then, Gish becomes a nun. When her more earthly intended turns up alive, Gish must choose between her spiritual husband, Jesus Christ, and the physical Ronald Colman…

Way too long, and directorially unfocused, Henry King's "The White Sister" does not reach its lofty expectations. There are, however, some extraordinarily beautiful scenes; and, the lead performances are excellent. The film seems relatively "reverential", considering the subject matter; though, Colman rails against, "The tyranny of the church - enslaving women who should be wives and mothers!" Undoubtedly, Gish and King were familiar with the original portrayal of "The White Sister", by Viola Allen, on stage (1909) and screen (1915), and sought to bring the story to more "epic" proportions. It appears as if water replaced the more difficult to film lava, for the less-than-climatic finish.

******* The White Sister (9/5/23) Henry King ~ Lillian Gish, Ronald Colman, Gail Kane, J. Barney Sherry

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