Knute Rockne All American (1940)

Approved  |   |  Biography, Drama, Sport  |  5 October 1940 (USA)
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The story of legendary Notre Dame football player and coach Knute Rockne.


, (uncredited)


(original screen play), (based upon: private papers of, and the reports of Rockne's intimate associates and friends) (as Mrs. Rockne)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Gale Page ...
Albert Bassermann ...
Father Julius Nieuwland (as Albert Basserman)
Committee Chairman
Henry O'Neill ...
Owen Davis Jr. ...
Gus Dorais
Lars Knutson Rockne
Dorothy Tree ...
Martha Rockne
Knute - Age 7 (as John Sheffield)
Moreau Choir of Notre Dame ...
Moreau Choir (as The Moreau Choir of Notre Dame)
Nick Lukats ...
Harry Stuhdreher-One of The Four Horsemen
Elmer Laydon - One of The Four Horsemn
William Marshall ...
Don Miller - One of The Four Horsemen


Lars Rockne and his family, including his four year old son Knute, emigrate to Chicago in 1892 from their native Norway. By his his mid-twenties Knute saves enough to attend obscure Notre Dame University, where he excels in football and chemistry. He and a teammate develop the forward pass as an offensive weapon while working as life guards on summer break and use it to upset heavily favored Army in a historic game. After graduation Rockne becomes a teacher while coaching part time but ultimately abandons academics to devote all his energies to football. During his tenure as head coach at the school, he develops such outstanding players as George Gipp, who dies prematurely from a strep infection, and the Four Horseman while introducing many innovative tactics including the backfield shift. Rockne, known for his staccato motivational speeches, devotes his life to maintaining the integrity of the sport he loves and promoting it as an integral component in the development of the American... Written by Gabe Taverney (

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Biography | Drama | Sport


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Release Date:

5 October 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Modern Hero  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Lloyd Bacon replaced director William K. Howard, who was discharged over a disagreement with the studio. Reportedly he wanted to have Knute Rockne convert to Catholicism in the film. Producer Robert Fellows asked star Pat O'Brien to accompany him to the director's house to break the news to him. Howard, whose career was declining, said, "Boys, this will destroy me!" When O'Brien said, "It's not so bad, Bill," Howard replied, "It is--a fadeout." With the exception of James Cagney's independent production Johnny Come Lately (1943), Howard only directed B-pictures after that (including one, When the Lights Go on Again (1944)) for bottom-of-the-barrel studio Producers Releasing Corp.) and ended his career with a film for Republic Pictures. See more »


During the game against Army while the players are lying on the ground resting and talking to their coach, a modern High Voltage Electrical Transmission tower can be seen in the background. See more »


Knute Rockne: Now I'm going to tell you something I've kept to myself for years. None of you ever knew George Gipp. He was long before your time, but you all know what a tradition he is at Notre Dame. And the last thing he said to me, "Rock," he said, "sometime when the team is up against it and the breaks are beating the boys, tell them to go out there with all they've got and win just one for the Gipper. I don't know where I'll be then, Rock," he said, "but I'll know about it and I'll be happy."
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Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Magic Sword (1992) See more »


Aura Lee
(1861) (uncredited)
Music by George R. Poulton
Played when Rockne convinces his coach to use the forward pass
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User Reviews

O'Brien Steals the Film
15 December 2013 | by (Louisville, KY) – See all my reviews

Knute Rockne All American (1940)

*** (out of 4)

Fun, winning story from Warner about the life and career of Knute Rockne (Pat O'Brien), the man who will forever be remembered as changing the way football was played while coaching at Notre Dame. If you're looking for a 100% accurate biography on Rockne then you might not want to start here but there's no question that the producers and studio had their hearts in the right place and they've at least delivered a very entertaining look at several highlights in the career of Rockne. I thought the film was highly entertaining from the start as we see Rockne's family coming to America and all the way up until the final day in the life of the legend. The film covers his days of attending college, his work as a chemist, his marriage to Bonnie Skiles (Gale Page) and of course his relationship to George Gipp (Ronald Reagan). The film certainly makes you care about Rockne and especially his fast-talking style, which someone like O'Brien can do with ease. The actor certainly turns in a very good and energetic performance as he has no problems making you believe he knows football and his speeches are flawless. Page is also good in her supporting role as is Donald Crisp and John Litel. Reagan appeared in countless films in his career but it's easy to see why his four-or-so minutes here are his most remembered. The football scenes are all directed extremely well, although there are still moments where stock footage is used. I think the film works best whenever we see Rockne on the field, coaching up his boys and working new plays to change the way the game was played. KNUTE ROCKNE ALL American is very "American" in the way he shows football as a patriotic thing and this too is something that helps carry the film.

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