Johnny Lingo, whose classic lines have been recited by seminary students for decades, moved from the classroom to the big screen Aug. 29 with the MGM release of "The Legend of Johnny Lingo."
Young and old alike know the story of Johnny Lingo, how the wealthiest trader in the South Pacific uses a dowry of eight cows to transform a childhood friend, Mahana, "the ugly," into a beautiful bride of grace and confidence.
The story was originally written by Patricia McGerr, a murder mystery writer living on the east coast who was not a member of the Church. Her short story was adapted into a 28-minute feature film in 1969 by Brigham Young Motion Picture Studios.
The movie's parable-like presentation, with its message of love and virtue, made it popular among seminary students and in classes throughout the Church. The film was later licensed by BYU to Encyclopedia Britannica, which distributed it worldwide. The movie gained universal appeal among millions of viewers in many faiths.
"The Legend of Johnny Lingo" was co-produced by Jerry Molen and John Garbett, two former Hollywood film makers and members of the Church who believe that virtue is an attractive — albeit forgotten — segment of mainstream entertainment.
Like the original movie, "The Legend of Johnny Lingo," is based on the power of love to develop one's God-given capacity. "There's a treasure hidden deep within everyone," says the lead character. "The adventure is to discover it."
The movie opened in Dallas, Phoenix, Atlanta, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. MGM will release the movie nationwide during the next two months.