Knute Rockne, All American: Sports Biopic, Starring Pat O’Brien and Ronald Reagan

Knute Rockne, All American is a sports biopic, which tells in a fictionalized mode the story of Knute Rockne, Notre Dame football coach.

It stars Pat O’Brien as Rockne and Ronald Reagan as player George Gipp (nicknamed “The Gipper”).

The secondary cast includes 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.

The movie was written by Robert Buckner and directed by Lloyd Bacon, who replaced William K. Howard after filming began.

Cultural Impact:

Reagan’s presidential campaign revived interest in the film, resulting in reporters calling him “The Gipper.”

Critical Status:

In 1997, this film was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the US Library of Congress and selected for preservation in their National Film Registry.

It begins in 1892, when Lars Knutson Rockne, a carriage builder, moves his family from Norway to Chicago. His son, Knute, saves up 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 win created Notre Dame football fans around the country.