God’s Step Children

This freakish 1938 melodrama by African-American film pioneer Oscar Micheaux, about a light-skinned child (Jacqueline Lewis) and woman (Gloria Press) hoping to pass for white, has often been cited as an indication of Micheaux’s own alleged racism on the matter of skin color. It’s also a prime instance of how this skillful silent director never seemed to find the budgets or the wherewithal to adapt fully to sound, sometimes with disorienting and even deconstructive results, as when actors are seen clearly reading their lines from cue cards. 65 min. (JR)

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