Join or Sign In

Sign in to customize your TV listings

Continue with Facebook Continue with email

By joining TV Guide, you agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge the data practices in our Privacy Policy.

God's Step Children Reviews

Reviewed By: Todd Kristel

God's Stepchildren has considerable historical interest as an example of the work of pioneering independent filmmaker Oscar Michaeux. However, it is not a good film by conventional standards of quality. The dialogue is ungainly, the acting is generally wooden, and Micheaux's low budget presumably limited his opportunity for retakes; an actress even recites the stage direction "emphatically" when speaking her lines. It appears that the budget also limited the available sets; for example, several major scenes occur in front of the same staircase. The running time of the film is padded out with gratuitous dance performances, yet the movie still lasts barely over an hour; despite this short length, individual scenes drag on for too long as actors seem to be staring into space or waiting for cues. Furthermore, the film suffers from problems that can't be attributed to Micheaux's need to work within a limited budget. The film's most notable lines of dialogue, such as "Only one Negro in a thousand tries to think," reflect Micheaux's sour attitude toward other African-Americans. Indeed, the film is less interesting for its dramatic qualities than for what it might reveal about Micheaux's perspective on racial issues, which seems to be based on a complicated mixture of anger, pride, denial, and self-loathing. God's Stepchildren is also interesting for some of Micheaux's filmmaking idiosyncrasies that were presumably intended to save money, such as showing an actor's silent response to an offscreen conversation instead of showing the conversation itself. Beyond that, however, this film doesn't have much to offer as pure entertainment.