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Reviews of silent film releases on home video.
Copyright © 1999-2017 by Carl Bennett
and the Silent Era Company.
All Rights Reserved.

The
White Sister

(1923)

 

Produced by Inspiration Pictures, the company headed by actor Richard Barthelmess, director Henry King and executive Charles Duell, The White Sister was shot in Italy to capture the beauty of the story’s homeland. The film stars Lillian Gish and Ronald Colman.

coverWarner Archive Collection
2011 DVD edition

The White Sister (1923), black & white, ? minutes, not rated,
with The White Sister (1933), black & white, ? minutes, not rated.

Warner Home Video, no catalog number, unknown UPC number.
Two single-sided, single-layered, Region 1 NTSC DVD-R discs, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $24.95.
Release date: 11 January 2011.
Country of origin: USA

This edition has been transferred from a high-quality 35mm source print.

The film is accompanied by a custom music score.

We have finally viewed this disc and, by far, it is our recommended home video edition of The White Sister.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD-R edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
This Region 1 NTSC DVD-R edition is also available directly from . . . Warner Archive
coverGrapevine Video
2006 DVD edition

The White Sister (1923), black & white, 143 minutes, not rated.

Grapevine Video, no catalog number, UPC 8-42614-10239-4.
One single-sided, single-layered, Region 0 NTSC DVD-R disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in windowboxed 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 18 chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $16.95 (reduced to $14.95).
Release date: December 2006.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 4 / audio: 5 / additional content: 0 / overall: 5.

This Grapevine edition, touted as being the complete 10-reel version (that is, the complete general release version of the film edited from its premiere length of 13 reels), has been transferred from a good but contrasty 16mm reduction print. Image shadow details are lost in deep, choking blacks, but highlight details (if still existing in the source print) remain.

The film can be hard to watch at times as all but the brightest picture details in interior shots are lost in subterranean shadows. Small exposure fluctuations throughout the film slowly flicker the sparce middle greytones. At least, the windowboxed, natural-speed video transfer will present on all monitors all of the picture information in the closely-cropped 16mm print.

The production is presented with a serviceable compiled music score of preexisting orchestral recordings, edited to accompany the film’s action.

Not the best home video option for hopeful collectors but, still, a marginal improvement over the crappy VHS editions of the 1980s and early 1990s.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD-R edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
This Region 0 NTSC DVD-R edition is also available directly from GRAPEVINE VIDEO.
coverSunrise Silents
2006 DVD edition

The White Sister (1923), color-tinted black & white, 108 minutes, not rated,
with Mystery of the Double Cross (1917) [episode 5: “The Life Current”], color-tinted black & white, 24 minutes, not rated, Kid’s Auto Race (1914), color-tinted black & white, 5 minutes, not rated, The Great Cheese Robbery (1920), color-tinted black & white, 3 minutes, not rated.

Sunrise Silents, TWSL-N (NTSC) and TWSL-P (PAL), no UPC number.
One single-sided, single-layered, Region 0 NTSC or PAL DVD-R disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in windowboxed 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 6 chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $23.95.
Release date: 1 February 2006.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 4 / audio: 6 / additional content: 6 / overall: 5.

This edition of The White Sister from Sunrise Silents reveals a faster-than-natural-speed windowboxed video transfer from a very-good 16mm reduction print. However, the source print is cropped more so on the left side than elsewhere. Image details are soft, the print is contrasty, with plugged-up shadows and featureless highlights, and there are small exposure fluctuations throughout. While the intertitles are readable, some facial features are hard to discern.

The disc features musical accompaniment performed on a MIDI-based synthesizer.

Also on this disc is Charles Chaplin’s second film, transferred from a good 16mm reduction print, a Krazy Kat cartoon, transferred from a very-good 16mm reduction print, a glass-slide gallery (25 images), the fifth episode of the serial Mystery of the Double Cross (1917), transferred from a good 16mm reduction print, a Lillian Gish photo gallery (32 images), and a trailer for What Price Glory (1926), transferred from a good 16mm reduction print.

We were happy to trash our old hard-to-watch VHS edition of The White Sister for this new DVD-R edition, but we look forward to an improved home video release of this film.

 
SUNRISE SILENTS has discontinued business and this edition is OUT-OF-PRINT.
coverClassic Video Streams
2009 DVD edition

The Actors: Rare Films of Lillian Gish, Volume 1 (1923),
black & white, 143 minutes total, not rated,
including The White Sister (1923), black & white, 143 minutes, not rated.

Classic Video Streams, no catalog number, unknown UPC number.
One single-sided, single-layered, Region 0 NTSC DVD-R disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono? sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, slimline DVD keepcase, $16.99.
Release date: 28 December 2009.
Country of origin: USA
This edition has likely been transferred from a 16mm reduction print.

The presentation likely features a soundtrack compiled from preexisting recordings.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD-R edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
Other silent era LILLIAN GISH films available on home video.

Other silent era RONALD COLMAN films available on home video.

Lillian Gish filmography in The Progressive Silent Film List
 
 
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