|Knute Rockne, All American|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Lloyd Bacon|
William K. Howard (uncredited)
|Written by||Robert Buckner|
|Music by||Heinz Roemheld (uncredited)|
|Edited by||Ralph Dawson|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
Knute Rockne, All American is a 1940 American biographical film which tells the story of Knute Rockne, Notre Dame football coach. It stars Pat O'Brien portraying the role of Rockne and Ronald Reagan as player George Gipp, a.k.a. "The Gipper," as well as Gale Page, Donald Crisp, Albert Bassermann, Owen Davis Jr., Nick Lukats, Kane Richmond, William Marshall and William Byrne. It also includes cameos by legendary football coaches "Pop" Warner, Amos Alonzo Stagg, William H. Spaulding, and Howard Jones, playing themselves.
Reagan's presidential campaign revived interest in the film, resulting in reporters calling him "The Gipper."
The movie was written by Robert Buckner and directed by Lloyd Bacon, who replaced William K. Howard after filming had begun. In 1997, this film was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in their National Film Registry.
Lars Knutson Rockne, a carriage builder, moves his family from Norway in 1892, settling in Chicago. His son, Knute, saves up his money and enrolls in college at the Notre Dame campus in South Bend, Indiana, where he plays football.
Rockne and teammate Gus Dorais star in Notre Dame's historic 35-13 upset over Army at West Point in 1913. The game was historically significant as Notre Dame employed the seldom-used forward pass to great effect. The publicity from the Fighting Irish's surprise win created Notre Dame football fans around the country.
After graduation, Rockne marries sweetheart Bonnie Skiles and stays on at Notre Dame to teach chemistry, work on synthetic rubber in the chemistry lab (under Father Julius Nieuwland) and in his spare time, serve as an assistant coach of the Fighting Irish football team under Coach Jesse Harper.
An outstanding freshman halfback, George Gipp, leads the Irish to greater gridiron glory. Gipp is stricken with a fatal illness after the final game of the 1920 season, however, and, on his death bed, encourages Rockne at some future date to tell the team to go out and "win one for the Gipper."
Notre Dame continues its football success with a backfield of stars dubbed "the Four Horsemen." Rockne, tragically, is killed in a 1931 plane crash on a trip to California, but his legend makes him a campus immortal.
Bosley Crowther of The New York Times called the film "one of the best pictures for boys in years" and wrote that O'Brien conveyed "a valid impression of an iron-willed, dynamic and cryptic fellow who could very well be 'Rock.' As a memorial to a fine and inspiring molder of character in young men, this picture ranks high. But, like the Carnegie Foundation has done on previous occasions, we are inclined to question its overemphasis of the pigskin sport."Variety called it "one of the best biographical picturizations ever turned out ... Pat O'Brien delivers a fine characterization of the immortal Rockne, catching the spirit of the role with an understanding of the human qualities of the man."Film Daily wrote, "Pat O'Brien's life-like Rockne is brilliantly delineated; it's as though Rockne himself were striding across the field once more."Harrison's Reports wrote, "Very good! It is the first football picture produced without any 'hokum'; it shows how teams are developed and what the game means to both players and coach ... The football scenes should prove thrilling to all."John Mosher of The New Yorker said the story had been "suitably handled for its public of energetic young people and South Bend alumni."
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
The last thing George said to me, 'Rock,' he said, 'sometime when the team is up against it and the breaks are beating the boys, ask them to go out there with all they've got and win just one for the Gipper.'
This quote is ranked #89 on a poll of AFI 100 Years ... 100 Quotes. The Gipper sequence was subsequently cut for later television showings by United Artists when they had the rights for many years. After its initial release to home video, MGM/UA restored this sequence as part of the original uncut version, and this is the version that has been shown on all home video, television, and theatrical reissues since.
The phrase "Win one for the Gipper" was later used as a political slogan by Ronald Reagan, who was often referred to as "The Gipper" due to playing the role in the movie. A famous use of it was at the 1988 Republican National Convention when Reagan told his Vice President George H. W. Bush, "George, go out there and win one for the Gipper." It was also used at the 1996 Republican National Convention by Bob Dole, as the 1996 Republican National Convention was held in Reagan's home state of California. It was used again in the 2004 Republican National Convention by President George W. Bush in his acceptance speech when he stated "we can now truly win one for the Gipper," shortly after Reagan's death.
Neither Notre Dame nor the NCAA recognizes Knute Rockne as a (first team) All American.
In the 1928 Notre Dame-Army game at Yankee Stadium, where Rockne implores his team at halftime to "Win one for the Gipper," the final score is shown as a 7-6 victory for Notre Dame. The actual final score of the game was 12-6.