Rudy is a 1993 American sports film directed by David Anspaugh. It is an account of the life of Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger, who harbored dreams of playing football at the University of Notre Dame despite significant obstacles. It was the first movie that the Notre Dame administration allowed to be shot on campus since Knute Rockne, All American in 1940.
In 2005, Rudy was named one of the best 25 sports movies of the previous 25 years in two polls by ESPN (#24 by a panel of sports experts, and #4 by ESPN.com users). It was ranked the 54th-most inspiring film of all time in the "AFI 100 Years" series.
The film was released on October 13, 1993, by TriStar Pictures. It stars Sean Astin as the title character, along with Ned Beatty, Jason Miller and Charles S. Dutton. The script was written by Angelo Pizzo, who created Hoosiers (1986), which was also directed by Anspaugh. The film was shot in Illinois and Indiana.
Daniel Eugene "Rudy" Ruettiger grows up in Joliet, Illinois dreaming of playing college football at the University of Notre Dame. Though he is achieving some success with his local high school team (Joliet Catholic), he lacks the grades and money necessary to attend Notre Dame, as well as the talent and physical stature to play football for a major intercollegiate program.
Ruettiger takes a job at a local steel mill like his father Daniel Sr., a Notre Dame fan. When his best friend Pete is killed in an explosion at the mill, Rudy decides to follow his dream of attending Notre Dame and playing for the Fighting Irish.
He travels to South Bend, Indiana to the campus but fails to get admitted to Notre Dame. With the help and sponsorship of a local priest, Rudy enrolls at Holy Cross College, a nearby junior college, hoping to get good enough grades to qualify for a transfer. He approaches a Notre Dame stadium groundskeeper named Fortune and volunteers to work for free. Having no place to live, Rudy sneaks in and out of Fortune's office at night through a window and sleeps on a cot. At first, Fortune is indifferent toward Rudy but later provides him with blankets for the cot and a key of his own to the office. Rudy learns that Fortune has never seen a Notre Dame football game from the stands, despite having worked at the stadium for years.
Rudy befriends D-Bob, a graduate student at Notre Dame and a teaching assistant at Rudy's junior college, who offers to tutor Rudy in exchange for help in meeting girls. Suspecting an underlying cause to Ruettiger's previous academic problems, D-Bob has him tested and Rudy finds out that he has dyslexia. Rudy learns how to overcome his disability and becomes a better student. At Christmas vacation, Rudy returns home to his family's appreciation of his report card but is still mocked for his attempts at playing football and loses his fiancée to one of his brothers.
Rudy is finally admitted to Notre Dame during his final semester of transfer eligibility. He rushes home to tell his family, with his father announcing the news to his steel mill workers over the loudspeaker. Rudy persuades Fortune to promise to come see his first game if Rudy is permitted to suit up. After "walking on" as a non-scholarship player for the football team, Ruettiger convinces coach Ara Parseghian to give him a spot on the practice squad. An assistant coach warns the players that 35 "scholarship" players will not even make the "dress roster" of players who take the field during the games but notices that Ruettiger exhibits more drive than many of his scholarship teammates.
Coach Parseghian agrees to Rudy's request to suit up for one home game in his senior year so his family and friends can see him as a member of the team. However, Parseghian steps down as coach following the 1974 season and is replaced by former NFL coach Dan Devine. Coach Devine keeps Rudy on the team, but refuses to list him on the active playing roster. When Rudy sees that he is not on the dress list for the team's next-to-last game, he becomes angry and quits the team.
Fortune sees Rudy at the stadium and chastises him for giving up. Rudy learns that Fortune has seen his share of Notre Dame games because he was once on the team but has never seen one from the stands. Fortune had quit the team because he felt he was not playing due to his color. Fortune reminds Rudy that he has nothing to prove to anyone but himself, and that not a day will go by when he will not regret quitting. With that, Rudy returns to the team.
Led by team captain and All-American Roland Steele, the other seniors rise to Rudy's defense and lay their jerseys on Devine's desk, each requesting that Rudy be allowed to dress in his place for the season's final game. In response, Devine lets Ruettiger suit up for the game against Georgia Tech.
Steele invites Ruettiger to lead the team out of the tunnel onto the playing field. Fortune is there to see it, as promised. As the game nears its end with Notre Dame up 17–3, Devine sends all the seniors onto the field but not Rudy, despite urging from Steele and the assistant coaches. As a "Rudy!" chant begins in the stadium, the offensive team, led by tailback Jamie O'Hare, overrules Devine's call for victory formation and scores another touchdown instead, providing defensive player Ruettiger with one more chance to get into a game and thus be entered onto the official roster of Notre Dame football players.
Devine finally lets Rudy play on the final kickoff. Rudy stays in for the final play of the game, sacks the Georgia Tech quarterback, and to cheers from the stadium, is carried off the field on his teammates' shoulders.
An epilogue text states that since 1975, no other player for Notre Dame has been carried off the field. Rudy graduated from the university in 1976, and all his brothers later went on to college to earn degrees.
Directed by David Anspaugh
Produced by Robert N. Fried
Written by Angelo Pizzo
Sean Astin as Daniel E. "Rudy" Ruettiger
Jon Favreau as D-Bob
Ned Beatty as Daniel Ruettiger, Sr.
Charles S. Dutton as Fortune
Robert Prosky as Father John Cavanaugh
Jason Miller as Coach Ara Parseghian
Lili Taylor as Sherry
Mitch Rouse as Jim
Chelcie Ross as Coach Dan Devine
Ron Dean as Assistant Coach Joe Yonto
John Beasley as Assistant coach Warren
Vince Vaughn as Jamie O'Hare
Rudy Ruettiger – Cameo in a picture at the end of the movie, and in a crowd scene at the Georgia Tech game, behind Ned Beatty
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Cinematography Oliver Wood
Edited by David Rosenbloom
Distributed by TriStar Pictures
Release dates October 13, 1993
Running time 116 minutes
Country United States
Budget $12 million
Box office $22.8 million
Rudy received primarily positive reviews from critics. Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times wrote that the film "has a freshness and an earnestness that gets us involved, and by the end of the film we accept Rudy's dream as more than simply sports sentiment. It's a small but powerful illustration of the human spirit." Stephen Holden of The New York Times observed that "For all its patness, the movie also has a gritty realism that is not found in many higher-priced versions of the same thing, and its happy ending is not the typical Hollywood leap into fantasy." In The Washington Post, Richard Harrington called Rudy "a sweet-natured family drama in which years of effort are rewarded by a brief moment of glory." Kenneth Turan of The Los Angeles Times called the film "Sweet-natured and unsurprising...this is one of those Never Say Die, I Gotta Be Me, Somebody Up There Likes Me sports movies that no amount of cynicism can make much of a dent in."On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a rating of 84%, based on 37 reviews, with an average rating of 6.9/10. The site's consensus reads, "Though undeniably sentimental and predictable, Rudy succeeds with an uplifting spirit and determination."
American Film Institute recognition:
AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains:
Rudy Ruettiger - Nominated Hero
AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers: #54
AFI's 10 Top 10: Nominated Sports film