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God Bless the Child (1988)

Single mother, Theresa Johnson, becomes homeless, loses her job and tries to survive with her young daughter, Hillary, through charities and public shelters.




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Cast overview, first billed only:
Theresa Johnson
Hillary Johnson
Althea Watkins
Raymond Watkins
Calvin Reed
Jennifer Leigh Warren ...
Sharee Watkins
Davenia McFadden ...
Richard Watkins (as Dante Terrell Smith)
Jose Soto ...
Bobby Gifford
Shawana Kemp ...
Tracy Watkins
Chandra Watkins (as Charlain Woodard)
Charlesletta (as Akuyoe)
Nicholas Podbrey ...
Brenda Denmark ...


Single mother, Theresa Johnson, becomes homeless, loses her job and tries to survive with her young daughter, Hillary, through charities and public shelters. Written by Herman Seifer <alagain@aol.com>

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Release Date:

21 March 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Children of Poverty  »

Filming Locations:


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Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Theresa's hair length varies from long to short & back again from scene to scene. This is especially noticeable when Theresa is at the first shelter, and the woman in charge tells her she only has 3 days left. Her hair is much longer than in previous scenes. See more »


Features The Price Is Right (1972) See more »

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User Reviews

as an apartment manager myself...
16 July 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I have a fairly conservative point of view, and when the landlord came into the picture, I was interested to see what they would do with him. They did such a superb job with everything else....

IMO, the landlord, albeit clearly the most unsympathetic character in the whole film, was handled pretty well. If you want to see him simply as "the heavy", you can, but I recommend that you watch this again and think about it from his perspective too. Some of his comments were purely bigoted and prejudicial, but some of them had validity. He had given a woman a break and let her move in without even paying, and in return she created a problem for him. (How are the rats going to go away? That takes WORK, which costs MONEY to PAY someone to make it happen. That MONEY comes from RENT, which had not been paid! So who should pay for it?) If we just look at the dilapidation of the buildings, we can get a bad attitude toward the landlord -- but ultimately, how is that any different from his prejudice toward his tenant and her broken-down life? What do you know about him and what problems he's facing in his life? Just because he runs the place, you assume he's rich and rolling in extra money, and therefore should pay from his pocket to fix all of everyone else's problems?

I've had homeless people in my building, and I eventually had to kick them out. I gave them a chance and they threw it away with drug and alcohol abuse, fights, property damage, midnight parties, etc.. In the end, after all the legal costs, unpaid rent, repairs, delays to make the repairs, etc.... I think I would have done just as well to simply leave those units empty! However, that was those people. Not everyone homeless is interchangeable -- and not all landlords/managers are, either. So everybody ought to take a breath and think before assuming they know all about the other person from nothing but a few bits of demographic info.

So, about the movie in general...

This is one of the best movies I've ever seen, because it doesn't try to come up with some starry-eyed "answer" and push that in our face. It just says look, see the bind that a lot of people find themselves in, and then it leaves the viewer to think about that and make of it whatever they will. That's a degree of respect for the viewer which I'd like to see more often.

As others have said, Mare Winningham is truly great in this role. She has exactly the right face to be this woman: a pleasant, but very real, very normal face (not a cover girl who would be out of place), but so capable of showing us what's inside at every moment. What a gem she is. (I got a laugh from the hater who trashed her in another review. Jealous much, punk? BTW, I'm a man, and I rated this a 9/10. So suck on that.)

Also, the little girl is now 34 years old as of 2014, and still acting, and still beautiful. So there's your happy ending! :-p

I don't think I've ever given a movie 10/10, but this one gets a 9. The minor flaws it has are outweighed by some very powerful acting and directing along with intelligent writing, and few movies pack this much of a wallop.

Parting thought: it's not just money that is needed, in dealing with poverty and homelessness issues. I gave my formerly homeless tenants a lot of breaks; they threw them away. Other issues, not dealt with, led them astray even when they had a chance to make a new start. They needed other kinds of help which money alone would not provide (and some people might be entirely beyond help, at some point in their life; in those cases, we should think about society and how it can be improved for future generations). Regardless of what you may think will help, I suggest that understanding the status quo is the beginning, and from what I know of the world, I think this movie is tremendous in building that up.

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