Knute Rockne, All American

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Knute Rockne, All American
Directed by Lloyd Bacon
William K. Howard (uncredited)
Written by Robert Buckner
Starring Pat O'Brien
Gale Page
Ronald Reagan
Music by Heinz Roemheld (uncredited)
Cinematography Tony Gaudio
Edited by Ralph Dawson
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
Running time
98 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $645,618[1]

Knute Rockne, All American is a 1940 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."[2]

The movie was written by Robert Buckner and directed by Lloyd Bacon. 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 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.

After graduation, Rockne marries sweetheart Bonnie Skiles and stays on at Notre Dame to teach chemistry, work in the chemistry lab under Father Niewland on synthetic rubber and in his spare time serve as an assistant coach of the Fighting Irish football team under Coach Jess Harper. He and his college roommate, quarterback Gus Dorais, develop the forward pass, which enables Notre Dame to defeat the traditionally strong team from West Point.

An outstanding freshman halfback, George Gipp, leads the Irish to greater gridiron glory. Gipp is stricken with a fatal illness, however, and encourages 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.


"Win one for the Gipper"[edit]

This quote is ranked #89 on a poll of AFI 100 Years...100 Quotes. 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 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.

The speech is parodied in the movie Airplane!, which was released when Reagan was running for the presidency in 1980.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ed. Rudy Behlmer Inside Warner Bros (1935-1951), 1985 p 208
  2. ^ Cannon, Lou (1991, 2000). President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime. New York: PublicAffairs. ISBN 1-891620-91-6.

External links[edit]