Highlights in the colorful life of Knute Rockne, one of the most prominent figures in the world of football, are woven into a biographical film drama [based on private papers of his wife and the University of Notre Dame] that carries both inspirational and dramatic appeal on a wide scale.
Picture is studded with familiar incidents in Rockne’s life – the meeting with George Gipp, latter’s brief grid glories and death from pneumonia, defeat by army after a long winning streak and the early morning reception of Rock on his return to South Bend, his decision to accept coaching as a life work in preference to chemical research, and his memorable ‘go out and win this one for the Gipper’ in an army game. Through it all runs the theme of Rockne’s whole purpose in life – moulding boys under his care to become good Americans who are conscious of their responsibilities and opportunities.
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. Donald Crisp turns in his usual capable performance as Father John Callahan, head of Notre Dame. Four outstanding grid coaches, friends and contemporaries of Rockne – Howard Jones, Glenn ‘Pop’ Warner, Alonzo Stagg and William Spaulding – are brought in for brief appearances in one sequence.