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The White Sister is a 1933 American pre-Code romantic drama film directed by Victor Fleming and starring Helen Hayes and Clark Gable. It was based on the 1909 novel of the same name by Francis Marion Crawford and was a remake of the silent film The White Sister (1923).

The White Sister
White Sister lobby card.jpg
Lobby card
Directed byVictor Fleming
Cullen Tate
Produced byHunt Stromberg
Written byWalter Hackett (play)
Donald Ogden Stewart
Based onThe White Sister
by Francis Marion Crawford
StarringHelen Hayes
Clark Gable
Music byHerbert Stothart
CinematographyWilliam H. Daniels
Edited byMargaret Booth
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • April 14, 1933 (1933-04-14)
Running time
105 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish / German
Box office$1,672,000[1]


Italian aristocrat Angela Chiaromonte (Helen Hayes) spurns the potential husband chosen by her father (Lewis Stone) in favor of Giovanni Severi (Clark Gable), a handsome army lieutenant. When her lover is reported killed in World War I, Hayes renounces the world to become a nun. After she takes her vows, the lieutenant shows up very much alive. He implores her to give up the order, but she refuses. The lieutenant is later injured in a bombing raid; he dies, with Angela lovingly at his side.



Aerial sequences combined stock footage and newly shot photography over the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

Principal photography on The White Sister began in December 1932 with two units assigned to the production. Director Fleming completed all of the interiors and backlot sequences at the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios at Culver City, California. Second unit director Cullen Tate was in charge of all the aerial sequences filmed in Reno, Nevada. Aerial coordinator Paul Mantz gathered all the aircraft required: Stearman C3, Curtiss Fledgling and Travel Air J-5 biplanes, leased from the Los Angeles area. All the aircraft were repainted to stand in as Italian and German fighters.[2][N 1]


The White Sister generally received favorable reviews, with Variety saying, "Helen Hayes is the sorrowing Angela, as solid and satisfying a bit of acting as comes to the screen in a blue moon. Clark Gable is a gallant soldier hero and leaves nothing to be desired."[3] Reviewer Mordaunt Hall of The New York Times reflected, "It is a beautiful production, but its scenes never seem as real as those of the old mute work."[2]

Box officeEdit

According to MGM records, the film earned $750,000 in the United States and Canada and $922,000 elsewhere, resulting in a profit of $456,000.[1]



  1. ^ Scenes from Hell's Angels (1930) were integrated into the final film.[2]


  1. ^ a b c "The Eddie Mannix Ledger". Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study (Los Angeles).
  2. ^ a b c Orriss 2013, p. 75.
  3. ^ "Review: 'The White Sister." Variety, December 31, 1932.


  • Orriss, Bruce W. When Hollywood Ruled the Skies: The Aviation Film Classics of World War I. Los Angeles: Aero Associates, 2013. ISBN 978-0-692-02004-3.

External linksEdit