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Cipher in the Snow (1974)

Not Rated | | Short, Drama | October 1974 (USA)
Asking to leave a school bus, Cliff, a young teenager, collapses and dies in the snow near the roadside. His math teacher is asked to notify the parents and then write a short obituary. ... See full summary »



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Cast overview:
Robert Bridges
Bruce Kimball
Jacqueline Mayo
Roberta Shore ...
Peggy, school secretary
Walter Stocker
Mary Cox
Larry Watts
Martha Henstrom
Kirk Hutchings
Ronald Jenkins ...
Bus Driver
Court LeRoy


Asking to leave a school bus, Cliff, a young teenager, collapses and dies in the snow near the roadside. His math teacher is asked to notify the parents and then write a short obituary. This task is difficult, for although he was Cliff's favorite teacher and had the most interaction of any at the school, he barely knew him. In unraveling the mystery of the untimely death, he finds that Cliff was shy, lonely, and ostracized, being slowly reduced to nothing, a zero (cipher). He vows to not let this happen to others. Written by Brian Greenhalgh

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Plot Keywords:

teacher | obituary | teenager | shy | bully | See All (8) »


Short | Drama


Not Rated

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

October 1974 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


CIPHER IN THE SNOW was adopted by the NEA and was used as an initiation to grade school kids in the '70s as part of the standard curriculum. See more »


Referenced in The Field Is White (2002) See more »

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User Reviews

It molded me; along w/ a mystery short where juvi hoods rip up a poetry book!
21 July 2008 | by (Sham Diego, California) – See all my reviews

Wow; You could'a knocked me over with a feather when I stumbled across this listing--This site never ceases to amaze me!

I, too, was profoundly affected upon first viewing this obscure (or so I thought) short subject. I don't remember the year, just that I was attending a "progressive" elementary school (Murdock, La Mesa/Spring Valley, CA). I'm 40 years old now, and like the other "comment-ers" I still think back to this one every now and again; I've even gone so far as to ask several of my film-dork friends over the years about it, to no avail.

Perhaps one of you "Cipher" fans can help me unearth details on another educational short from roughly the same period. Sadly, the title must've been stored in one of the many brain cells i've subsequently destroyed, but here's what I remember:

I guess that the overriding theme of the film is "group-think" and/or the evils of juvenile-onset Sociopathy: We meet a kindly, committed male educator; His favorite thing, other than helping to mold young minds, is his first-edition, autographed (i think) collection of e.e. cummings poetry. Through a series of events I no longer remember (could it have been some sort of 'initiation'?) a small group of his students break in or something and end up tearing up this Prized Possession... All flippancy aside, I really do look back on this as the first introduction to the concept of empathy.

Can anyone help me to identify the film? PLEASE respond here, or by e-mail, as i can't figure out how to join in any reindeer-messageboard-games!

2012 UPDATE: "The Boy Who Liked Deer" was its name!!! Thank you so much for e-mailing me the title of the lost short I just described, 2 different people whose names I forget! You've made it possible for me to find it on You Tube and add it to my YT page/playlists. www.youtube.com/leshaann Thank you!

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