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Knute Rockne All American (1940)

Approved | | Biography, Drama, Sport | 5 October 1940 (USA)
1:50 | Trailer

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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:
Bonnie Skiles Rockne
Father Julius Nieuwland (as Albert Basserman)
Committee Chairman
Gus Dorais
Lars Knutson Rockne
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 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 duke1029

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Biography | Drama | Sport


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

5 October 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Modern Hero  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Pat O'Brien's makeup--to make him look more like the real Knute Rockne, whom he did not resemble at all--took three hours each day to apply. See more »


When Knute Rockne (Pat O'Brien) first notices George Gipp (Ronald Reagan) kicking a football, a player standing next to Rockne very clearly mouths "Hey You!" (without any sound coming from his mouth) just as Rockne yells the same thing to Gipp. See more »


Knute Rockne: Coach, let us use the forward pass, I know it'll work.
Notre Dame Coach Harper: I'm not so sure. We've never seen it in a game.
Knute Rockne: Neither has the Army, what can we lose?
See more »


Referenced in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) See more »


Happy Land
Traditional spiritual
Sung by Pat O'Brien as "Boarding House"
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User Reviews

From Norway, To Chicago, To South Bend and Immortality!
1 July 2007 | by See all my reviews

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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