‘White Sister’ Photoplay of Rare Appeal – By Mae Tinee (Chicago Tribune – 1923)

The White Sister
Lillian Gish and Ronald Colman – The White Sister

Chicago Tribune – Monday, November 12, 1923 – Page 21

‘White Sister’ Photoplay of Rare Appeal

‘One of Most Exquisite Ever Screened’

“The White Sister”

Produced by Inspiration Pictures

Directed by Henry King

Presented at the Great Northern

Silver Nitrate White Sister Lobby Card Negative
White Sister Lobby Card (Inspiration Pictures)

The Cast:

  • Angela Chiaromonte ……………….. Lillian Gish
  • Capt. Giovanni Severi ….….…. Ronald Colman
  • Marchesa di Mola ………………….….. Gail Kane
  • Monsignor Saracinesca ……. J. Barney Sherry
  • Prince Chiaromonte ………………. Charles Lane
  • Madame Bernard ……..….. Juliette La Violette
  • Prof. Ugo Severi ……………………… Sig. Serena
  • Filmore Durand ……………….. Alfredo Bertone
  • Count del Ferice …………..…….. Ramon Ibanez
  • Alfredo del Ferice ……….… Alfredo Martinelli
  • Mother Superior ……………………. Carloni Talli
  • General Mazzini ………….….. Giovanni Viccola
  • Alfredo’s Tutor …………………… Antonio Barda
  • Solicitor to the Prince …….. Giacomo D’Attino
  • Solicitor to the Count ….….….. Michele Gualdi
  • Archbishop ………………..……. Giuseppe Pavoni
  • Professor Torricelli ……….. Francesco Socinus
  • Bedouin Chef ……………………. Sheik Mahomet
  • Lieutenant Rossini ………………….. James Abbe
  • Commander Donato …..…. Duncan Mansfield

By Mae Tinee

Good Morning! Regardless of church or creed, it seems to me that every honest person who views “The White Sister” will pronounce it one of the most exquisite photoplays ever screened. The power, the beauty, the realism, the pathos of it MUST strike home. It was adapted from the story by F. Marion Crawford from which a play was also made. The latter, I believe had a happy ending. Book and picture dare the world.

Ronald Colman and Lillian Gish in "The White Sister"
Ronald Colman and Lillian Gish in “The White Sister” (At a Portrait Exhibition)

At that, in many instances, the film departs from the original tale. In essentials, however, the tragic story of little Angela, who, believing her lover dead, becomes a nun, refusing, after she has discovered he lives, to break her vows to the church, is the same.

For the first reel or so you are dubious. You have seen better photography and makeup. THEN the acting which achieves the distinction of appearing to BE NOT acting grips you. Your emotions are swept along with those so vividly pantomimed before you. By the time the twelfth reel is over you have forgotten all faults of technique, for in pictures, as in people, it is the subtle something that “gets” you or DOESN’T get you.

The White Sister
Lillian Gish as Angela Chiaromonte – The White Sister

A high note of ecstasy runs through even the most painful moments of the film. You are never depressed, though, heaven knows, following the fated footsteps of Angela from the moment she is sent unjustly from her home till the eruption of Vesuvius, which is the final dramatic visitation, by all laws of cinemaology (new word), you should be innumerable times.

Speaking of this eruption and the storm that comes in its wake, this part of “The White Sister” is typically Griffithnonian. Who’s behind this “Inspiration Pictures” company, anyway? Henry King is a clever director, but don’t tell me that David Wark Griffith wasn’t hovering somewhere in the background during the time mentioned. I also suspect him of being much there when Angela goes through the final impressive ceremony that makes her a “White Sister.”

The White Sister
Lillian Gish, Gail Kane and J. Barney Sherry as Monsignor Saracinesca – The White Sister

There is only one place when you are frankly bored, and that is during the long drawn out death scenes of the jealous half sister of Angela. Before she finally passes on a horrible fear obsesses you that she will prove to have nine lives. She certainly doesn’t stop living until she gets what she wants.

As a rule I am not greatly impressed by the work of Miss Lillian Gish. This time though, I admire her with all my heart. She is lovely throughout and does “bits” of most excellent acting. Ronald Colman as her lover is immense. J. Barney Sherry as a priest is so good at times that he threatens to run away with the piece. Juliette La Violette as Angela’s governess is an intensely human sort of person.

“The White Sister” was photographed in Italy, so its obvious that the “atmosphere” is all it should be.

And now I leave the production to your consideration – which may or may not be tender.

See you tomorrow.

The White Sister
Lillian Gish and Ronald Colman – The White Sister

 

Chicago Tribune – Sunday January 6, 1924 – Page 52

Kick Korner – Lillian Gish’s work, unjustly criticized

Its Object – Objection

Frank and Fearless

Dear Mae Tinee. Whenever I read one of your reviews on a Lillian Gish picture I get absolutely sick. For goodness sake, why don’t you ever give her the credit due her? You know she is the greatest actress on the screen today and has been for the last few years. Why not admit it? Also, why force your personal prejudice on the public? Anybody with half an eye knows, from reading your reviews of Lillian Gish pictures, that you have a personal dislike for her. I suspect that at some time or other when she was in Chicago she failed to call on you or ignored you in some way. Your pride thus injured, you decided to get revenge.

After reading your review of “Orphans of the Storm” I was ready for a battle. I feel the same today, for I saw “The White Sister” last night. Lillian Gish is the most exquisite being in the world and the greatest actress. She expresses so much with – O, what’s the use?

In a recent review you said “As a rule I am not greatly impressed by the work of Lillian Gish. [By the way, you have said that before.] This time though, I admire her with all my soul. She is lovely throughout and does bits of most excellent acting.”

That’s all right – but what I am kicking about is you couldn’t let the matter rest there, as you should have, but had to remove the entire effect of your merger compliment by, “J. Barney Sherry as a priest is so good that at times he threatens to run away with the piece.”

Never give a compliment with a question mark; it doesn’t mean a darn thing. M.F.

The White Sister
Lillian Gish as Angela Chiaromonte in The White Sister

 

Admin note: David W. Griffith had no contribution to White Sister’s production, not even as tech advisor. Behind “Inspiration Pictures” company was Charles H. Duell, the famous lawyer-owner-lover who attacked Lillian Gish in court for breach of contract. Above article is remarkable by mentioning James Abbe (the photographer) in a small part as Lieutnant Rossini. On the other hand, the author should have been ashamed for obvious unjust criticism, (unfortunately manifested in other articles as well), not to be expected from a professional journalist.

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