7 vintage LDS films that will make you smile (and make your kids laugh)


LDS kids these days don’t know how good they have it.

The Mormon Channel produces new Mormon Messages for Youth every month or so. LDS recording artists release uplifting music videos that make the rounds on the Internet every few days. With so much high-quality, uplifting media to choose from, many of today’s Mormon teenagers have no idea how far LDS short films have come.

If you remember “The Mailbox,” “The Phone Call” or “Johnny Lingo,” you’ve seen the evolution of LDS cinema. Show your teenagers these videos to teach them a valuable lesson in innovation and progress — and maybe a lesson or two in self-worth, family relationships and selfless service.


1. “Johnny Lingo”

Johnny Lingo

When Johnny Lingo, a trader in the South Pacific, comes to bargain for a wife, the villagers eagerly anticipate his decision. But much to their surprise, he pays an unheard of eight-cow dowry for Mahana (who earlier in the film elicits the famous one-liner “Mahana, you ugly”). Johnny’s demonstration of love helps Mahana gain confidence and come to appreciate her inherent self-worth.


2. “The Phone Call”

Phone Call

If your teenager likes “Napoleon Dynamite,” “The Phone Call” is the short film for them. The short film teaches important lessons in dating, confidence, relationships and nunchuck—I mean, martial arts skills as it follows the story’s frizzy-haired, lanky, karate-move flaunting hero through the tricky waters of teenage dating.

The film is based on a short story by Jack Weyland that was first published in the Feb. 1976 issue of the New Era. It includes a classic love triangle and hero’s journey from awkward and insecure to slightly less awkward and insecure.


3. “My Turn on Earth”


“My Turn on Earth” is a musical that teaches gospel principles with a catchy beat and happy-go-lucky tune. The stage play, which was written by Carol Lynn Pearson and Lex de Azevedo, was filmed and released on VHS in 1986 and on DVD in 2008. The play teaches key aspects of the Plan of Salvation through song and dance, with special attention to the purpose of our time (or “my turn,” if you will) on Earth.


4. “Cipher in the Snow”


BYU adapted Jean Mizer’s short story “Cipher in the Snow” into a short film in 1973. The film tells the story of a young teenager who collapses and dies in the snow with no apparent cause of death. As his teacher pieces together the young man’s story, he learns that he was ostracized and lonely—that he apparently simply lost his will to live.

The story is a cautionary tale for teachers, leaders and children who might be letting at-risk kids slip through the cracks.


5. “The Mailbox”

The Mailbox

Another heartbreaking story, the 1977 short film “The Mailbox,” tells the story of an 83-year-old widow named Lethe who waits by her mailbox every day hoping to receive letters from her family. Keep the tissues handy.


6. “Saturday’s Warrior”


“Saturday’s Warrior” is another stage musical that teaches gospel principles, even if there’s slightly more speculation portrayed than actual Church doctrine. The film follows Jimmy, the oldest in a large LDS family, who doesn’t share his family’s worldview. The film has strong anti-abortion themes and focuses largely on the importance of family.


7. “The Gift”

The Gift

If you’re looking for a new, low-maintenance Christmas tradition, look no further than “The Gift.” The short film is a heartwarming tale of the special gift a son gives his father for Christmas — but we won’t spoil it for you.

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20 Responses to "7 vintage LDS films that will make you smile (and make your kids laugh)"

  1. Ben R. says:

    Where’s the other Forgotten Vintage LDS movies?

    Dear Utahvalley360. You forgot the other Mormon movies although they are depressing that were made.

    One of them is “The Trophy Case” 1980 with the Teenage Boy a rebel who gets in trouble at the robbery of the gas station with the police, argues with his dad and runs away from home. Merrill Jenson wrote the music including the closing song.

    The Second one is “Uncle Ben” 1976 Who has drinking problems with beer and his Nieces and Nephews mom dies and Uncle Ben takes care of them.

    Another one is “In One Blinding Moment” 1983 Where the boy with the fishbowl gets run over by a teenage driver at the school and the boys father at the crime scene says “Oh my God.” which I was surprised by PG word he used in that LDS movie considering it was made by the Mormon church.

    You also forgot “The Pump” 1972 I believe. Where the man driving the highway takes a shortcut through the desert and his car breaks down and wanders through the desert and stumbles on a ghost town and tries to find water before he dies.

    By the way “Cipher in the Snow” 1973 and “The Mailbox” 1977 were pretty sad LDS films.

    These flims were made before Kurt Bestor and Sam Cardon made music for the LDS church videos in the 1990s.

  2. Grant Whitehurst says:

    I’m looking for a short film I saw on BYU TV. It appeared to be a 70’s or 80’s film. It was about a blind girl who ended up pointing out something with a telescope to an astronomy instructor to get her Master’s or Doctorate’s Degree. Do you have any recollection of that film and the name of it? Anyone?

  3. Kittywaymo says:

    i love this list!

  4. Kittywaymo says:

    Cypher in the snow

  5. kelly says:

    im looking for a movie about a football team who make fun of a girl that is very homly and the players girlfriend shows them a different way.

  6. jordan says:

    @Kelly, I think you might be looking for ‘The Award’. I think you can find it on YouTube

  7. carma says:

    We’re looking for an LDS movie made in the 90s having to do with a young man who accidentally makes a valid stock buy and ends up with $1 million. He’s tasked with whether or not to return the money. There is a sleezy guy with a red corvette, and the stock had to do with a new remote-control concept car.

  8. Jeremy says:

    I am looking for a movie probably from the70’s. The main character is nicknamed (or maybe named) Turtle. I remember a line where he chants “get out of my life” to his home teacher. I think he drives a hippy van and his girlfriend overdoses and all of his friends except his home teacher leaves him. I saw the movie 20 years ago, but nobody believes me that such a movie exsist. Do you know what I am talking about?

  9. Talking about Momon teenagers and uplifting music vis a vis LDS films, I am of the opinion that uplifting music engenders meditation which films distract.

  10. Megan Franklin says:

    I’m looking for a movie about the guy who doesn’t want to go on a mission but ends up going and loves it

    • Susan says:

      “God’s Army” perhaps. I’m not sure I remember correctly but I think the young man was very confused and ambivalent about serving a mission. He didn’t really have a testimony.

  11. Lovey Cesena says:

    I’m look for a move with two kids that go into there grandparents attic and find an old chest with a stuffed animal that comes to life and talks to the kids. The stuffed animals name is Lorenzo.

  12. tbsbet says:

    These smiling blooms are perfect Mother’s Day gifts. They are super simple to make and can be presented as a card or in a picture frame

  13. Randy Lombardo says:

    I am looking for a 1969 video called Worthy to Stand with Mike Ferrell. It is about Home Teaching. I found it on U Tube however I would like a complete copy of it. Can you help

  14. Paul Colburn says:

    When I was a young teenager we would go to the Los Angeles temple for baptisms and after we would watch short films in the visitors center little theaters. one that I have looked for and have not found was about a little girl who agreed to give up an organ to help save her brother, while at the same time she thought by doing so she was going to die. Does anybody have a clue about this film?

  15. Vanessa Penner says:

    The one you’re thinking of, Paul, is Greater Love, if I remember correctly. It is quite a tearjerker, isn’t it?

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