Defy Perils of War to Get Scenes Shown in “The White Sister” (Santa Cruz Evening News, 1924)

  • Santa Cruz Evening News, Volume 33, Number 107, 5 March 1924
  • Defy’ Perils of War To Get Scenes Shown In “The White Sister”

One of the most exciting and dangerous locations ever used in the making of a motion picture was visited by Henry King’s production unit of “The White Sister,” the .Metro Inspiration special, opening a two day’s engagement at the New Santa Cruz theater, today, in which Lillian Gish stars. It was necessary to get some desert scenes, and in order to do this the company was forced to go to Algeria, where the natives were warring on the Italian government. Under military guard night and day, the actors were constantly in danger of being attacked by wild Mohammedan, fighters. As if to emphasize the danger, they were incurring, the actors and mechanical staff were treated to the sight of a troop of Italian cavalry bringing into Tripoli, the capital city, 500 prisoners who had been captured in a severe engagement the preceding day.

The White Sister – behind the scenes

Have Pleasant Dreams

It was in the country where this battle had been fought that the actors were going to get color for the stirring scenes of the story dealing with the capture of the hero by Arabs. “We could not wait for the rebellion to end,” said Ronald Colman, who played the role of Giovanni, “and against the advice of Giuseppi Wolpi, the governor-general of the province, -we concluded to go out to our location on the desert forty miles from the capital city. So serious was the fighting that the city was surrounded by barbed wire entanglements. Owing to the co-operation of the Italian government, though, we were given a military escort, a battalion of 500 infantrymen and 150 native loyal camel-troops under command of officers were assigned to us.

The White Sister – behind the scenes

Taste of Real Thing

“It was most aweing to see the prisoners being brought in by the victors. It was a taste of real warfare. The prisoners were sullen and defiant. We took possession of the block house which, had been captured by the Italian troops and there for six days, constantly being disturbed by rumors of the approach of the insurrectionists -we shot all the scenes necessary. “Regular military discipline was maintained and every precaution taken to guard against surprise. Every day scouts from the camel troop pushed into the desert to make reconnaissance. It is most inspiring to see these ungainly beasts start out. They are used on the desert because horses can not stand the going of the sand. The camels make speed that seems incredible.  Warned of attacks, outposts were established and wire entanglements were stretched about our encampment. Several times we were warned that bands of insurrectionists were preparing to attack us, and the troops made ready for a desperate engagement, as the fanatical rebels defied death in their struggle against Italy. Detachments from our guard put a force to rout without firing a shot, as the rebels recognized the superior force. “All of us at one time or other have been locked out of our homes, but never before have I been locked out of a city. When we had finished our work in the desert we started back for the city. The journey of forty miles took longer than we had calculated. The gates of the city are locked at 9 o’clock and we found them locked against us on our arrival. We had to go back six miles to a block house and telephone in to have the gates opened for us.” “The White Sister,” by F. Marion Crawford, is a Henry King production, made by Inspiration Pictures, Charles H. Duell, Jr., president, and is released through Metro.

The White Sister – behind the scenes

Back to Lillian Gish Home page