Share

Watch It

On DVD: Now | On Blu-ray: TBD

Knute Rockne, All American Details

FULL SYNOPSIS

Knute Rockne-All American was Pat O'Brien's finest hour: thanks to intensive rehearsals and numerous makeup applications, he so closely resembled the title character that, in the words of Rockne's widow, "I almost expected him to make love with me". The life of the legendary Notre Dame football coach is recounted from his childhood, when young Rockne (played by Johnny Sheffield) startles his Norwegian-immigrant parents by announcing at the dinner table that he's just been introduced to "the most wonderful game of the world." As an adult, Rockne works his way through Indiana's Notre Dame university, under the watchful and benevolent eye of Father Callahan (Donald Crisp) A brilliant student, Rockne is urged by Father Nieuwland (Albert Basserman) to become a chemist, or at the very least remain a chemistry teacher. Newly married to Bonnie Skilles (Gale Page), Rockne at first sticks to academics, but the call of the gridiron is too loud for him to ignore, and before long he has built his reputation as the winningest college football coach in America. One of his most significant contributions to the game is the invention of the tactical shift, inspired by the precision choreography of a team of nightclub dancers! Among the players nurtured by Rockne are the immortal Four Horsemen-Miller (William Marshall), Stuhlreder (Harry Lukats), Laydon (Kane Richmond) and Crowley (William Byrne), and of course the tragic George Gipp, superbly enacted by Ronald Reagan. His career continues unabated until his death in a plane crash in 1931. The screenplay of Knute Rockne-All American tends to be all highlights and little story, with several of the more dramatic passages telegraphed well in advance (just before her husband's death, Bonnie Rockne comments forebodingly "It's gotten cold all of a sudden"). Still, the film remains one of the best and most inspirational sports biographies ever made, with a heart-wrenching conclusion guaranteed to moisten the eyes of even the most jaundiced viewer. Ironically, the film's most famous scene, George Gipp's deathbed admonition to "Win one for the Gipper", was for many years excised from all TV prints due to a legal entanglement stemming from an earlier radio dramatization of Rockne's life; fortunately, this and several related scenes were restored to the film in the early 1990s. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast

Pat O'Brien
as Knute Rockne
Gale Page
as Bonnie Skiles Rockne
Ronald Reagan
as George Gipp
Donald Crisp
as Father John Callahan
Albert Basserman
as Father Julius Nieuwland
John Litel
as Committee Chairman
John Qualen
as Lars Knutson Rockne
Henry O'Neill
as Doctor
Dorothy Tree
as Martha Rockne
Johnny Sheffield
as Knute: age 7
Nick Lukats
as Harry Stuhidreher
Kane Richmond
as Elmer Laydon
William Haade
as Worker
George Haywood
Minor Watson
as Committee Member
Harry Hayden
as Professor
William Hopper
as NY Alumnus
Egon Brecher
as Elder
Peter Ashley
as Player
John Ridgely
as Reporter
Lee Phelps
as Army Coach
Frank Mayo
as Reporter
Bill Sheffield
as Knute Rockne at Age 4
Frank Coghlan, Jr.
as Messenger
Charles Trowbridge
as Notre Dame Professor
Eddy Chandler
as Worker
Pierre Watkin
as Commissioner
Edgar Dearing
Cliff Clark
as Danny, Post Office Paymaster
George Reeves
as Player
Charles Wilson
as Gambler
Bill Gratton
as Jackie Rockne at Age 4
Creighton Hale
as Secretary
Pat Flaherty
as Worker
James Flavin
as Coach
David Bruce
as Player
George Irving
Fredrik Vogeding
as Elder

Crew

Lloyd Bacon
Director
Hal B. Wallis
Producer
Jack Warner
Producer
Robert Buckner
Screenwriter
Tony Gaudio
Cinematographer
Ray Heindorf
Composer (Music Score)
Leo F. Forbstein
Musical Direction/Supervision
Ralph Dawson
Editor
Milo Anderson
Costume Designer
Rex Wimpy
Special Effects
Byron Haskin
Special Effects
Nick Lukats
Consultant/advisor
Perc Westmore
Makeup
Advertisement