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 (email@example.com)
Lloyd Bacon replaced director William K. Howard, who was discharged over a disagreement with the studio. Reportedly he wanted to have Rockne to convert to Catholicism in the film. See more »
Knute Rockne is born in Norway and as a youngster, tells his father not to speak Norwegian, yet a couple of times in the movie he is referred to as a Swede. See more »
Father John Callahan:
Who can say for certain what a man was really born to be? That's God's will. Someday Knute will find his right place in the world, and when he does, whether it be science or not, I have a feeling it will be the one he was meant to do.
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From Norway, To Chicago, To South Bend and Immortality!
Some time ago, we read of the results of a poll taken by some Newspaper Sports Writers. The Questions posed were only two, and were brief and right to the point.
The Question Number 1 asked respondent to tell who was his most Beloved college football team. Question Number 2 asked the fan to name his most Hated college football team. The answer to both questions was simply, Notre Dame! ND is tops on both lists! Yeah, love 'em or hate 'em, but you sure don't ignore ,em.
The roots of this unique position of this Indepent* College Football Powerhouse are found in the life and career of one, grown-up, little Immigrant Norweigen boy from Chicago named Knute Rockne.
As a biopic, the production of KNUTE ROCKNE, ALL-American(1940), came out relatively close to the death of Coach Rockne in a 1930 plane crash. It was about 10 years after that the film was released. That would mean that preliminary work on the project started about 8 years after our Nation's great loss of Mr. Rockne.
His likeness and voice were well known from Newspapers, Radio and Motion Picture News Reels. Both Knute's Widow,Bonnie Skiles Rockne, and the University of Notre Dame had approval rights in choosing the Actor to play the Lead and okaying the script. We think that they could not have done the job any better. Pat O'Brien truly looks the part and was himself a footballer in college. Ronald Reagan is cast in the pivotal role of George Gipp**, a free spirited student going to Notre Dame on a Baseball scholarship! He was a "walk-on" football player.
The cast runs full of talented players. We have Griffith Veteran,Donald Crisp as Fr. Callaghan, C.S.C., Notre Dame President. Albert Basserman is Fr. Newland, the Chemistry Prof and Rockne mentor. Gail Page appears as the Mrs., Bonnie Skiles Rockne. Owen Davis,Jr. is Rockne cohort, Gus Dorais(the passer in that historic ND vs. ARMY Game at West Point.)
The cast is rounded out by Kane Richmond, Nick Lukats, William Marshall and William Byrne as the Four Horsemen. Real life Big Time College Coaches Howard Jones, 'Pop' Warner, Bill Spaulding and Amos Alonzo Stagg appear as themselves in scenes of Congressional Probe into College Sports and add an authentic touch.
As for biopic,KNUTE ROCKNE ALL-American!,all one can only say that it hits the ground running, and did not slow down from beginning to end. There is no wasted time either. All the screen time is used to move the story along.
Use of Notre Dame Choir, the Campus itself and all that Brass Band rah-rah march music all ad to the feeling of really being there.***
* To this day,even though their Basketball Team and other sports teams compete in the Big East Conference, Notre Dame remains an Independent in NCAA Football. What this means, that in effect, The Fighting Irish play a national schedule.
** There was no such agreement with the Family of George Gipp. There was a lawsuit some years ago over the scene portraying young Mr. Gipp giving the famous "Win Onr For The Gipper Speech". Television prints of this KNUTE ROCKNE ALL-AMEICAN were minus the speech in the death bed scene.
*** Other Notre Dame themed Films were made over the years. THE SPIRIT OF NOTRE DAME (Universal 1931)featured J. Farrell McDonald as a Rockne look-alike coach. It also featured Lew Ayers, Andy Devine Nat Pendleton, as well as the members of the real Notre Dame Championship Teams featuring the real Four Horsemen. Then of course, we have RUDY (Tri-Star 1993)with Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty and Charles Dutton, among others, in a fine cast. There was also talk of an unauthorized film, critical of Notre Dame called GOLDEN GLORY, but nothing has materialized, has it?(Let me know, Dear Reader, THANX!!)
**** Warner Brothers always had great music in their, both in opening themes and in incidental music. In this Rockne Movie, they have incorporated THE NOTRE DAME FIGHT SONG in the score. Along with it were STEP NOTRE DAME and THE NOTRE DAME ALMA MATER, which had its premiere at the Rockne Funeral in 1930 at the Notre Dame Basilica.
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