God's Step Children (1938) & She Devil (1934)
Sunday, March 19, 2017
7:00 pm - 9:15 pm, UCLA Hammer Museum - Billy Wilder Theater
UCLA Festival of Preservation 2017
See below for additional information.
Advance tickets are available online for $10.
Tickets are also available at the Billy Wilder Theater box office beginning one hour before showtime: $9, general admission; free to all UCLA students with valid ID; $8, other students, seniors and UCLA Alumni Association members with ID.
A $50 festival pass is available and grants admission to all Festival of Preservation screenings!
God's Step Children (1938) directed by Oscar Micheaux. By the time God's Step Children was released in 1938, African American pioneer Oscar Micheaux had independently produced, written, directed and distributed more than 30 “race” pictures—movies made by Black artists for Black audiences, a necessary alternative to Hollywood's exclusionary studio system. The most prolific director of such films, emerging in the silent era with his 1919 epic The Homesteader, Micheaux strove to convey the middle-class aspirations of Blacks in America as well as the deleterious effects of Jim Crow. Sadly, fewer than half of his films survive today, many in poor condition. The Archive is pleased to restore the only known print of this late-career title. Here, Micheaux revisits some of the issues of his earlier films: passing, miscegenation, and prejudice between Blacks of different skin tones. Naomi, a light-skinned Black child, is abandoned by her mother and raised by the virtuous Mrs. Saunders (Alice B. Russell, Micheaux's wife and collaborator). When the girl's fixation with whiteness turns her against her own race, she is sent to a convent. Hopelessly in love with her adoptive brother, Jimmie, Naomi consents to marry his friend, but is repulsed by his darker skin and unrefined ways. The narrative comes full circle as Naomi leaves her own newborn and makes a tragic attempt to pass in white society.
Followed by She Devil (a.k.a. Drums O'Voodoo) (1934) directed by Arthur Hoerl. An early “race movie” financed (as most were) by white producers, She Devil should not necessarily be discounted as representing the expression of a genuine Black voice. Though directed by Arthur Hoerl, a white man who wrote Reefer Madness and Rocky Jones, Space Ranger, the original play is by J. Augustus Smith, a southern Black man who also wrote the screenplay and takes the leading role. The heart of Smith's play Louisiana is the collision of African and Christian beliefs in the early 20th century bayou country. When the white man's Christian magic fails, conjure woman Aunt Hagar invokes voodoo to protect her community and save a Baptist preacher and his niece from the malign influence of an evil jook joint proprietor.