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HollywoodGolightly

Henry King's "The White Sister" (1923)

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Sorry, I hope you folks aren't discussing this one in one of the other threads, I just didn't see a separate thread for it.

 

I don't know much about it, except that I'll be recording it tonight for later viewing. Apparently it has only been released on VHS before, never on DVD.

 

Does anyone know much about it?

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HollywoodGolightly,

 

 

Yes it has been mentioned in several threads. *The White Sister* has never had an official release on DVD or VHS either before. Any previous versions floating around are Pirates. The film probably will be offered by Warner Archive though very soon.

 

I have seen the movie from TCM France in 2006. However, tonight it will have a brand new orchestral score by Garth Nuestader The first runner-up in the 2007 TCM Young Film Composers Competition. Tonights broadcast is an American TCM premier of the movie, and a World Premier of broadcast of the brand new score. I sure hope that it does the film justice.

 

I should mention that this is the film Warner's had selected for the 2008 Young Film Composers Competition. Unfortunately, as you know the event was canceled due to lack of Sponsorship. TCM is still hoping that it will return in January after a couple year hiatus.

 

The print is beautiful from 35 Millimeter stock. Not very often that you will see a *Henry King,* or *Ronald Coleman* Silent on TCM. King is perhaps best known today for three films *TOL'ABLE DAVID (1921)* with Richard Barthelmess, *STELLA DALLAS (1925)* with Belle Bennett, and *THE WINNING OF BARBARA WORTH (1926)* with Coleman, Vilma Banky And Gary Cooper. He was a prolific silent film director, but has been pretty much forgotten. Note it is a long film, well over two hours. Be sure to plan accordingly. Here are some stills from the picture:

 

 

 

WhiteSisterVintageLobbyCard1923.jpg

 

*Vintage Lobby-Card*

 

 

 

RonaldColman-LiillianGishTheWhiteSi.png

 

*Lillian Gish and Ronald Coleman*

 

 

 

 

ColemanGish-WhiteSister-Bounded.jpg

 

*Coleman And Gish From THE WHITE SISTER (1923)*

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I'm recording it right now, I see that the time slot is 2 hours 30 minutes, so it should be OK. And I wasn't aware that it had never been officially released, because apparently moviesunlimited.com sells it on VHS. Could it be that it is in the public domain?

 

At any rate, glad to have a recording of it.

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It is in the Public Domain. It was made by Inspiration Pictures which went out of business, therefore it was not renewed in its 28th year. When a film made in 1923 or later is not renewed in its 28th year it passes into the public domain permanently. Plus the original novel is in the public domain. Grapevine, Sunrise Silents, and other companies and individuals have put out their own versions of the film on VHS and DVD-R for years and years. No one has ever been sued because they cannot be sued for putting out a public domain film. No piracy involved.

 

Btw, this score is very nice and romantic so far.

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Jill,

 

While this movie was produced by Inspirational Pictures, it was released through Metro prior to the merger, and MGM eventually obtained the rights or Warner's wouldn't have a print.

 

Much of this young guys score to *THE WHITE SISTER* was really excellent. He is still a Collage Student! Better than *BEAU BRUMMEL* in my view. I don't really even recall very much about that score. Although allot of people here felt that it was very good. I'll need to watch it again. The condition of the film itself, however was nowhere near as good as I had remembered? Or I should say that I thought I remembered from the earlier TCM France broadcast. Quite battered, with a fair amount of decomposition in a few sequences. There was even quite a bit of obvious water damage.

 

They need to use this young man *Garth Nuestader* (hope I spelled that correctly) again to score *FORBIDDEN HOURS (1928)* with Ramon Novarro, and Renee Adoree, and directed by the same guy as *BEAU BRUMMEL,* Harry Beaumont. The film is already restored has been since 2001, probably in better shape than *THE WHITE SISTER,* but still has no musical score. *FORBIDDEN HOURS* is extremely high on my list of most wanted Silents for new scores.

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It doesn't matter who releases the work in theaters, it matters who copyrights it originally, the date they copyrighted it originally, and in this case it was Inspiration Pictures, which went out of business, so they weren't around 28 years later to renew the copyright. Look at the opening credits, it still says Inspiration Pictures. Lots of prints survive after they have passed into the public domain, having nothing to do with who released it in theaters.

 

Plus a few years later Lillian re-released the film with apparently some major changes made, so the original film is not what we were watching tonight.

 

Bottom line, if anyone thinks they have a legal ownership of this picture they are wrong. The copyright situation on this film was a tangled legal mess from almost the beginning because Lillian changed the film around so much in the ensuing years. No intellectual property lawyer would take such a case to court, just unraveling the legal mess to prove ownership of a particular surviving print would cost a fortune. That's why no one has ever gone after all the people who have put this film out in the past.

 

Yes, I was pleased with the score. We have been disappointed in the past, but not this time.

 

I definitely agree that this print looked worse than the one they broadcast in France. And the added tints looked computer generated and applied willy-nilly. If I were a gambling person I would bet that TCM re-encoded this film at a lower bitrate than the print they showed in France. I have noticed that about other public domain silents TCM has aired: they look worse when broadcast by TCM than they do if you buy the DVD.

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I may be wrong on this, but MGM may have the copyright to this version as well. When they made a sound version of this film in 1932 with Helen Hayes & Clark Gable, I would imagine that when they got the rights to make the film they ended up with the silent print as well since the copyright would still have been in effect. Not unlike what happened when MGM remade DR JEKYLL & MR HYDE in 1941, they got custody of Paramount's 1932 version as part of the deal. Until the late 1960s, the Paramount film was thought to be lost, until a search was done in the MGM vaults and turned up a print of the Paramount film.

 

Message was edited by: Scottman

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This is really a feminist film and there are so many motifs there could be an accompanying student study guide, just a thought...

 

Loved Garth Neustadter's inspired score marking and synchronizing action, emotion, musical instruments, dance, culture, time, hoof-beats, weather, plot and Mt. Vesuvius for two and a quarter hours! And there's a lovely romantic love/rapture theme throughout and voice in hymn- just beautiful. Thanks TCM and congratulations to Mr. Neustadter.

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A later version has nothing to do with the first version by Inspiration Pictures, which was not renewed in its 28th year because the company went OOB, so the film slipped into the PD permanently.

 

The later talkie version would have been a separate deal, would have had its own legal agreement with the original author, who published her novel in 1908, so in 1932 her book would still have been under protection and anyone who wanted to make a new version would have to arrange the legal situation with the author, not Lillian Gish or Inspiration Pictures.

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Miss Gulch, I'm curious, how do you see it as a feminist work? It seems to me the female character submits herself to the highest form of Patriarchy that exists in the world, the Roman Catholic Church, where they don't allow women to be priests or popes.

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It's a sad movie because to my mind there was no reason why she should not have married the man she loved. Marriage is just as holy an institution as being a nun in the RC church, and the character Ronnie played really had "first dibs" on her, so to speak.

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Revisit the final balcony scene and and you'll see, it's all about ownership (ironically), free will and standing tall, alone, completely composed and deferential only to her own inner spiritual world... just my interpretation though. The film is as complex as the those exquisite Italian ironwork gates (metaphors) and the Catholic backdrop is just that, a stage for a richer story.

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I think she would have had a far richer life living with Ronald Colman, but I guess that's just me. ;) She would have been freer too. The structure of the RC church at that time was extremely rigid and it's still male dominated today. There is no way to advance yourself in the RC as a woman, no way to 'climb up the ladder' so to speak and displace a man from his lofty position, which is an aim and tenent of feminism.

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It seems to me that Angela (Lillian) chooses to remain a Nun of her own volition. Or maybe it was just the will of the producers of the film. In any case, why are we giving away crucial details concerning the ending, when many people probably recorded the movie and haven't watched it yet?

 

I had read that this was supposed to have been digitally re-mastered? Well, I am certain that was not the case. The print was in fairly rough shape, but had good sharpness, and contrast. Given the condition of the surviving elements, this would not have been one of my first choices for a new score. Surely, Warner's must have many Silents with much better surviving elements than this one that are still awaiting new recorded scores? As Lillian Gish features go, I can definitely tell you that ANNIE LAURIE (1927) is virtually pristine!

 

They must have picked the movie based on the strength of the two stars alone. Henry King's name wasn't even mentioned. And by his standards much of the movie was rather flatly directed.

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I have seen films in rougher shape. To say other films deserve new recorded scores more than this one because maybe the quality of the picture is better ,i can't agree with.I think you are right about the flat directing.

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Yes, sometimes things slip in conversation but it's the people who use the word motif who should be forever banished from these message boards, maybe write it in stone in the Code of Conduct, just a suggestion. Silent melodramas are an acquired taste, funny and kinda grotesque on first viewing. Silent comedies/action appeal to me more where a train is just a train, a cow is a cow and a musketeer is a musketeer, pure and simple.

 

Annex%20-%20Gish,%20Lillian%20(White%20Sister,%20The)_02.jpg

 

Waiting for the paint to dry...

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I haven?t had a chance to watch this one yet but since I know the plot now it reminds me of the original fairy tale version of *The Little Mermaid*. When mermaids die they just turn into bubbles and disappear into the water but the mermaid in the story wanted something different; she knew there must be more to life than that. She sees the handsome prince one day, falls in love with him, and decides she wants to become human. Afterwards, she finds out that he is already in love with and engaged to a good woman and she doesn?t want to bust them up. Later, she joins the church and becomes a nun. She didn?t do this b/c of despair over not having the man she loved, but b/c she found God?s love and when she died a very old woman, she went to Heaven.

 

 

*There is no way to advance yourself in the RC as a woman, no way to 'climb up the ladder' so to speak and displace a man from his lofty position, which is an aim and tenent of feminism.*

 

I?m not a Catholic but I am a Christian and I do understand that many denominations are restrictive when it comes to advancement for women in the church. However, that does not mean that women cannot find happiness in serving the Lord because he loves us all equally. If Lillian had left the church to be with Ronald, would that have been better or worse than remaining a nun? Either way her happiness is dependent on a male figure so how is going off to be with him any type of feminism? Back then the man was still very much seen as the master of the household and depending on the disposition of your husband, you may have been better off a nun ;).

 

I like that this film didn?t have the typical Hollywood happy ending. I do enjoy the films where the girl gets her man and they live happily ever after, but too much of the same thing becomes a drag after a while.

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>>In any case, why are we giving away crucial details concerning the ending, when many people probably recorded the movie and haven't watched it yet?

 

Because it wouldn't be fair to the people who HAVE seen the film already and want to discuss it to tell them to be quiet about it until all the late watchers get around to it. How does anyone know how long that would take?

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In the story she gives her promise to Ronnie's character first to marry him. To me that should take precedence to any vow to a church. The institution of marriage is just as holy as serving in a church, if not more so, because marriage is uplifted in the Bible but there is not one mention of a "nun" in scripture. Nuns are strictly an invention of the Roman Catholic church.

 

Women are serving God by praying for others, honoring their husbands, raising good, moral children, keeping a fine home with generosity shown to neighbors and friends, going to church and tithing, supporting missions and charities, etc. There is no commandment in the New Testament that tells either men or women they must be monogamous or unmarried to adequately serve God. In fact in the New Testament it is a commandment that a minister "must be the husband of one wife" (1 Timothy 3:2) meaning that a man cannot even be the minister of a church in the eyes of God unless he is married to a woman.

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People often break their promises, just look at any politician to see that ;). It?s also alright if people change their minds about the path they want their life to take. When I was a kid I wanted to marry David Hasselhoff (Knight Rider was big at the time) but thank goodness my tastes and priorities have changed.

 

I didn?t say that being a nun was better than being married. They are both perfectly honorable institutions provided your heart is in the right place. Clearly you have some issues with the Catholic church which I know a lot of people do, but remember, those institutions were founded by people who are flawed. Yes, there is some basis for their organizational structure in the Bible, but ultimately it is people who decided how it would be set up and run. My point is, don?t put your faith solely in people or institutions which are both transitory. God never changes, only our perception of Him and His word change. I don?t mean this to sound preachy but I know a lot of people who have turned away from God b/c of dislike for the church and if you are a person of faith, don?t get bogged down in disdain for institutions b/c in the end, they won?t last but God?s love will.

 

The site's being slow again, it's taken me several tries to get in. I sure wish they'd get that fixed already.

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> {quote:title=LrC wrote:}{quote}

> I have seen films in rougher shape. To say other films deserve new recorded scores more than this one because maybe the quality of the picture is better ,i can't agree with.I think you are right about the flat directing.

 

 

Other Silents did deserve new scores ahead of this one, not just because of the condition of the material, but because they are better made, more entertaining movies! I can name a whole bunch of them. King Vidor's *WINE OF YOUTH (1924),* George Hill's *THE COSSACKS (1928)* for starters. I am still waiting to see Vidor's *PROUD FLESH (1925),* which I am told is a Masterpiece by those who have seen it.

 

Anyway, I am sick of seeing poor Lillian Gish suffer to death, or die in almost every one of her films! Maybe that its why I like *ANNIE LAURIE*, and did appreciate the revised ending of *THE WIND* while most did not. I would have despised the grim ending!

 

And if you read my earlier posts, you would also see that this broadcast could have, and should have looked better than it did. The print TCM France broadcast of *THE WHITE SISTER* in 2006, was far superior looking than this one was? I can't explain that, because it has to be from the same material? Jill mentioned that it could have been encoded at a lower bit-rate than the French telecast had been?

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