Film Review and Rating / Synopsis

(Please note the films reviewed on this site contain plot summaries and may contain SPOILERS.)

  • The White Sister (1923) - Plot Summary - Silent soap opera/tearjerker starring the great Lillian Gish. In Italy, in a great palace which dominates the city (along with Mt. Vesuvius) lives saintly Donna Angela (Gish) and her evil half-sister The Marchesa. While spending time in the fairy-like palace gardens, Angela dances to gypsy music and meets up with her love, the dashing Captain Giovanni Severini (Ronald Colman), over the garden walls. Soon Giovanni proclaims he is going to ask Angela's father for her hand in marriage - but unknown to Angela, her father has made arrangements to marry off Angela to the son of a Count, thus uniting two of Italy's oldest (and richest, I guess) families. POSSIBLE SPOILERS - - Plans are seriously altered though, when the father is seriously injured while "riding to hounds", and dies. The evil sister secretly burns the will (yeah, she's a bad one), so she is declared sole heir to the entire estate based on lack of a will. She then proceeds to kick her little sister out of the palace, proclaiming her own love for Giovanni and her personal hatred for Angela. Angela moves into a small house with her governess, and soon receives news that Giovanni is being sent by the War Department on an expedition to Africa. Sad news comes that the group he was leading were all massacred in the desert by Arabs. Poor, poor Angela is taken to the hospital of the White Sisters, in complete shock at her lost love who she was to marry on the day of his return. In his memory, she decides to help the world and become a nun aka "white sister". More soap to come! And what about that side plot - the older brother/professor of Giovanni is up at his observatory studying the volcano?!

    Review - Okay, this was a good one - more melodrama and tears packed into one movie than you might ever desire - Lillian Gish is absolutely fantastic in this film. A long, involving silent film that I found very entertaining and nicely photographed. The scene where Lillian as Angela takes her final vows to become a nun is beautifully done. This film, as screened on TCM, featured a quite nice orchestral score done by Garth Neustadter. The film was tinted in some scenes, and looked reasonably good except for some scenes with a bit of decomposition. For Gish fans (like me!) this is a can't miss. Rating - * 10/10 stars *

    Director: Henry King
    Film Genre: Romantic Melodrama
    Film Runtime: 143 minutes

Links / Resources


10 = Absolutely Fabulous/Superb
9 = Really Good/Excellent
8 = Good
7 = Fairly Good/Decent
6 = So-so, some flaws
5 = Mediocre
4 = Not that good, many flaws
3 = Poor
2 = Very Poor/Stinker
1 = One of the worst BOMBS ever filmed

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