AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Knute Rockne--All American
Alternate Title: All American
Director: Lloyd Bacon (Dir)
Release Date:   5 Oct 1940
Premiere Information:   World premiere at South Bend, IN: 4 Oct 1940
Production Date:   began 2 Apr 1940
Duration (in mins):   97
Duration (in reels):   11
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Cast:   Pat O'Brien (Knute Rockne)  
    Gale Page (Bonnie Skiles Rockne)  
    Ronald Reagan (George Gipp)  
    Donald Crisp (Father John Callahan)  
    Albert Basserman (Father Julius Nieuwland)  
    John Litel (Committee chairman)  
    Henry O'Neill (Doctor)  
    Owen Davis Jr. (Gus Dorais)  
    John Qualen (Lars Knutson Rockne)  
    Dorothy Tree (Martha Rockne)  
    John[ny] Sheffield (Knute, age 7)  
    The Moreau Choir of Notre Dame    
  The Four Horsemen: Nick Lukats (Harry Stuhidreher)  
    Kane Richmond (Elmer Layden)  
    William Marshall (Don Miller)  
    William Byrne (James Crowley)  
    Howard Jones    
    Glenn "Pop" Warner    
    Alonzo Stagg    
    William "Bill" Spaulding    
    Billy Sheffield (Knute, age 4)  
    Ruth Robinson (Gipp's mother)  
    Cliff Clark (Paymaster)  
    Richard Clayton (Student)  
    George Haywood (Student)  
    Carlyle Moore Jr. (Player)  
    George Reeves (Player)  
    Peter Ashley (Player)  
    Michael Harvey (Player)  
    Gaylord Pendleton (Player)  
    George Irving (Professor)  
    Harry Hayden (Professor)  
    Charles Trowbridge (Professor)  
    Charles Wilson (Gambler)  
    John Ridgely (Reporter)  
    Jeffrey Sayre (Reporter)  
    Joe Cunningham (Reporter)  
    De Wolfe Hopper (Reporter)  
    David Bruce (Reporter)  
    Frank Mayo (Reporter)  
    Dutch Hendrian (Hunk Anderson)  
    Robert O. Davis (Elder)  
    Egon Brecher (Elder)  
    Fred Vogeding (Elder)  
    Phil Thorope (Boy center)  
    Dickie Jones (Boy captain)  
    George Billings (Boy quarterback)  
    William Haade (Worker)  
    Eddy Chandler (Worker)  
    Pat Flaherty (Worker)  
    Creighton Hale (Secretary)  
    John Gallaudet (Harper)  
    Lee Phelps (Army coach)  
    James Flavin (Army coach)  
    Tommy Bennett (O'Reilly)  
    Donald Curtis (Army player)  
    Robert Winkler (Boy)  
    Danny Jackson (Boy)  
    Gary Watson (Boy)  
    Harry Harvey, Jr. (Boy)  
    Ruth Toby (Isobel)  
    Dudley Dickerson (Porter)  
    Wade Boteler (Trainer)  
    Pierre Watkin (Board member)  
    Ed Stanley (Board member)  
    Frank Coghlan Jr. (Messenger)  
    Owen King (Telegraph clerk)  
    Edgar Dearing (Friend)  
    Erville Alderson (Kansas farmer)  
    Maris Wrixon (Telephone operator)  
    Lucille Fairbanks (Telephone operator)  
    Tommy Baker (Newsboy)  
    Peter B. Good (Bill Rockne, age 2)  
    Bunky Fleischman (Bill Rockne, age 5)  
    David Dickinson (Bill Rockne, age 10)  
    Jack Grant Jr. (Bill Rockne, age 14)  
    David Wade (Knute Rockne, Jr., age 7)  
    Billy Dawson (Knute Rockne, Jr., age 12)  
    Billy Gratton (Jackie Rockne, age 4)  
    Patricia Hayes (Jeanne Rockne, age 10)  

Summary: In 1892, Lars Knutson Rockne leaves Norway for America, in search of a better life for his family. The Rockne family settles in Chicago, where little Knute becomes fascinated by football. Years later, now grown to manhood, Knute finally saves enough money to enroll in Notre Dame, where he excels in chemistry and football. With his roommate Gus Dorais, Knute develops the famous football strategy of the forward pass and defeats the Army team. After graduation, Knute stays on at Notre Dame, teaching chemistry and coaching football to earn enough money so that he can marry his sweetheart Bonnie Skiles. After three years, Knute decides to give up chemistry and make coaching his life work. The legendary Notre Dame team finally comes together when Knute finds his half-back in freshman George Gipp. However, tragedy dims the team's triumph when Gipp is stricken with a fatal illness. After Gipp's death, Knute revolutionizes football with the backfield shift of his "Four Horsemen," thus winning further glory for his school. Later, crippled by phlebitis, Knute is forced to coach from a wheel chair, but never loses his team spirit. The real threat that Knute must face is not his phlebitis but the allegation of scholastic favoritism in college football. While flying to a hearing in California to defend his beloved sport, Knute tragically loses his life in a plane crash, but his good works live on in the sport that he strove so hard to build. 

Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.  
Production Text: A Warner Bros.--First National Picture; Jack L. Warner in charge of production
Distribution Company: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.  
Director: Lloyd Bacon (Dir)
  Jesse Hibbs (Asst dir)
  Don Alvarado (Asst dir)
  Frank Anthony (Asst dir)
Producer: Hal B. Wallis (Exec prod)
  Robert Fellows (Assoc prod)
Writer: Robert Buckner (Orig scr)
Photography: Tony Gaudio (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Robert Haas (Art dir)
Film Editor: Ralph Dawson (Film ed)
Costumes: Milo Anderson (Gowns)
Music: Leo F. Forbstein (Mus dir)
  Ray Heindorf (Orch arr)
Sound: Charles Lang (Sd)
Special Effects: Byron Haskin (Spec eff)
  Rex Wimpy (Spec eff)
Make Up: Perc Westmore (Makeup)
Production Misc: Nick Lukats (Tech adv)
  J. A. Haley (Tech adv)
Country: United States

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc. 5/10/1940 dd/mm/yyyy LP9953

PCA NO: 6204
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: RCA Sound System

Genre: Biography
Subjects (Major): Athletic coaches
  College sports
  Football players
  Knute Rockne
  University of Notre Dame
Subjects (Minor): Airplane accidents
  Chicago (IL)
  College life
  Family life
  Incurable diseases

Note: The working titles of this picture were All American , The Spirit of Knute Rockne , The Story of Knute Rockne , The Fighting Irish , Laughing Irish Hearts and The Life of Knute Rockne . The opening credits read "Based upon the private papers of Mrs. Rockne and the reports of Rockne's associates and friends." The Var review notes that football coaches Howard Jones, Glenn "Pop" Warner, Alonzo Stagg and William Spaulding, who appeared as themselves in the film, were friends of Rockne. According to news items in HR , John Payne was originally considered for the lead role. William K. Howard began the direction of the film, but was replaced by Lloyd Bacon because of a difference of opinion with Warner Bros. over the treatment of the story. Modern sources suggest that these differences centered around a death scene in which Howard wanted Rockne to convert to Catholicism. HR items add that technical adviser Nick Lukats was a former Notre Dame football star and that the film was shot on location at Notre Dame at South Bend, IN. The line "win just one for the Gipper" that is spoken by Ronald Reagan, who plays George Gipp in the film, became Reagan's trademark and he often mentioned it during his presidency. The entire speech reads, "Some day when the team's up against it...breaks have beaten the boys...ask them to go in there with all they've just one for the Gipper. I don't know where I'll be then but I'll know about it. I'll be happy." In 1940, Pat O'Brien and Ronald Reagan starred in a Lux Radio Theatre version of the story. The 1931 Universal film, The Spirit of Notre Dame , was also based on the life of the athletic coach (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.4259), produced by M-G-M TV. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   7 Oct 40   p. 3.
Film Daily   7 Oct 40   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   16 Feb 40   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   25 Mar 40   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   3 Apr 40   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Apr 40   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   15 Apr 40   1
Hollywood Reporter   4 May 40   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   21 Aug 40   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Oct 40   p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily   7 Oct 40   p. 1, 5
Motion Picture Herald   12 Oct 40   p. 46.
New York Times   19 Oct 40   p. 21.
Variety   9 Oct 40   p. 16.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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