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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
You don't have to be a Notre Dame football fan to enjoy this, because I am not....but, as a football fan in general, this was fun to watch. It almost makes me a Fighting Irish devotee. If you can't get caught up in the emotion in this film, gridiron fan or not, you better check your pulse because this is an emotional film with some very touching scenes.
As a sports fan, I loved watching the classic footage of early college games. They had some pretty wild plays back then with a lot of laterals. They interspersed that footage with Pat O'Brien shown as head coach Knute Rockne on the sidelines and some of the players, such as George Gipp (Ronald Reagan).
Reagan gets pretty good billing in this film but his part really isn't that large. O'Brien is the only actor with a large role in here. The rest - all playing nice characters - include Gale Page as Rockne's wife "Bonnie;" Donald Crisp, as the Notre Dame's "Father John Callahan;" Albert Bassermann as chemistry professor "Father Nieuwland" and Reagan, as Gipp, perhaps Notre Dame's most talented and famous player ever.
What this film does nicely is balance the personal story with the football. Neither angle is overdone. The characters in here all people you can root for, as there are no villains. On my last look, it was interesting to discover Johnny Sheffield - Tarzan's son - playing Rockne at the age of seven and to see George Reeves, TV's Superman, as one of the players.
There have been very few football movies made in Hollywood, for some reason, and precious few good ones. This is one of them.
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