EFL Movie Study Guide for:
This page has been
updated slightly at www.EFLsuccess.com.
Story: Rudy presents the story of
the only football player at prestigious Notre Dame Univ. ever carried off
the field in celebration by his teammates. Rudy is small and lacks talent.
Everyone laughs at his dream—except himself. Rudy makes up for his
weaknesses with a determination to help every teammate perform at his
best. What is keeping you from your dreams? Maybe this film will help you
overcome it! Based on a true story. (1993; Tristar Pictures; starring Sean
Aston; drama, college sports/life)
Setting: Mid 1970s, in the Midwest
US. First we see Rudy’s childhood in an urban community (near Chicago,
Illinois), then at high school, then a junior college, and finally at
Notre Dame University (Indiana).
You will hear two “college” songs during the movie. The first is the
football “fight song” and the second is the “college theme song” or “alma
One more thing: athletes and steel workers have a reputation for foul
language, so you will hear it in this film (like most American films).
Outline/details of the story:
Rudy was one of many children in a
large Catholic family. His father worked in a steel mill, and loved
to watch Notre Dame University football games on TV.
Rudy attended a Catholic high school,
so you will see that his teachers were all priests
Rudy liked to daydream, especially about becoming a Notre Dame football
player, but he did poorly in school. (Rudy had a learning disability
called Dyslexia, but no one knew this until later.) His grades were
not good enough to go to college, so after high school he worked in a
steel mill with his father and brothers.
When an accident killed his best
friend, Rudy decided to follow his dream of becoming a football player at
Notre Dame. The university’s retired president (Father Cavanaugh)
befriended Rudy, and helped him enroll in a junior college. At the jr.
college, a Teaching Assistant (named D-Bob) became Rudy’s friend,
helped him to overcome his Dyslexia and taught him how to study (in
exchange for Rudy helping D-Bob overcome shyness around women!).
After trying (and
failing) for a few years to transfer to Notre Dame, he finally gets to
enroll. Everyone on the football team has a full scholarship, but
the coach sees extraordinary “heart” in Rudy, in spite of his size and
talent shortcomings. Now, practice after practice, Rudy gets trampled by
some of the best players in college football.
Does Rudy’s dream of playing football
for Notre Dame come true? You will have to watch the movie to find out!
People and proper nouns:
Reuttiger: this is really Rudy’s family
name; Rudy is a nickname (short for Reuttiger)
Pete: Rudy’s best friend at the steel mill
Frank: Rudy’s older brother, who never
believes in Rudy’s dream
Father Cavanaugh: a priest at Notre Dame,
who helps Rudy enter Holy Cross
Junior College. (Father Cavanaugh was also a retired president of Notre
D-Bob: a Teaching Assistant (TA) at Holy
Cross Junior College, and an honor student at Notre Dame University. D-Bob
becomes Rudy’s best friend.
Fortune: a black man who is the head of
the crew who take care of Notre Dame’s football stadium (he becomes
Rudy’s boss and encourager)
the largest branch of the Christian religion. The Catholic church is
particularly popular in Ireland, Italy, the Philippines, and South
“Father”: Out of respect, people do not
call Catholic priests “Mr. Smith” but instead “Father Smith”
Notre Dame University: a top American
university, located in South Bend, Indiana (a few hours from Chicago).
Like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Oxford, Cambridge, Peking University and
most other leading universities, Notre Dame was started as a college to
train Christian leaders. Although
now you can study just about anything at Notre Dame (science, engineering,
languages, the arts…), it is still run by the Catholic church, and thus
many of the teachers and administrators are priests. The word “notre dame”
is French, and means “our mother,” which is a reference to Mary, the
mother of Jesus Christ.
“The Fighting Irish”: every football
team has a nickname (绰号;
This is the nickname for Notre Dame’s football team. It reminds us that
many American Catholics are the descendents of immigrants from Ireland—and
the Irish people are known as good fighters!
in the movie (as in many Catholic churches), lighting candles symbolizes
you are a descendent of your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents,
etc. Your children (and grandchildren, etc.) will be your descendents.
*dyslexia: a learning disability, in which
your brain sometimes sees letters and numbers in the wrong order. This
obviously makes it hard to study! (This obviously mkase ti hrad ot
incontrovertible facts: things that are
certain and undeniable (without any question or doubt)
*junior college (or community college): an
institution offering adult education courses on various subjects,
including basic academic classes (similar to first-year university
courses), vocational training (nursing, computer tech, engine repair), and
hobby-related courses (photography, gardening). Although there are
differences, a community college or technical/vocational school is similar
to a junior college. These colleges can offer an Associate's Degree,
normally after two years of prescribed study. In 2008, undergraduate tuition at
Dame University was over $36,000US per year, while tuition at a junior
college would be about $5000. I think that in 1975, ND would have been
about $1000, while Holy Cross Junior College would have been around $400
(I don’t know the true numbers, but you can see
what I paid in 1982). (By the way, in 2005, Notre Dame admitted only
34 of the 85 students from Holy Cross who applied to transfer.)
a man with extensive Catholic religious training and an advanced
education; priests serve as the leaders of Catholic churches,
teachers/administrators in Catholic schools and universities, and as
people who work for various charities to help the poor or others with
social problems. The uniform of a priest is a black garment with a small
white collar instead of a tie. Christian leaders are also sometimes called
"Men of the Cloth."
when someone pays some of the college expenses for gifted students or
athletes (a “full ride” or “full scholarship” means that someone pays ALL
of your expenses, including tuition, housing, transportation and food)
scout team: football players who come to
practice, but who never compete in a real game (they pretend to be the
opposing side during practice, and thus get “beat up” a lot!)
“dressed out” (or “dressed”): allowed to
wear a football uniform during a game. (Only “dressed”
players can compete, though many only “ride the bench.”)
“ride the bench”: to sit on the bench
(i.e., sidelines of the field), wearing a football uniform, hoping that
the coach allows you to play during the game
*“You’re about 90 short!”: someone
gave this answer when Rudy tried to buy a football ticket for $10 (also
called “ten bucks”); it means that the ticket costs $100 (Rudy’s $10 plus
*“Here’s the deal”: it means: “These are
the terms of our agreement” or “if you will do something,
then I will do this…”
“nothing,” as when Fortune says “You're 5
foot nothin', 100 and nothin'.” This means “you are barely over 5 feet
tall and barely weigh more than 100 pounds.” He uses “nothing” to
exaggerate about Rudy’s small size, and to criticize his attitude.
Notes about American football
Each game has two sides competing
(in this case, from two universities). Each side has two teams (the
“offense team” tries to score; the “defense team” tries to keep the other
team from scoring). A team has 11 men, so each side needs 22 players.
However, because the game is very demanding, a good coach rotates players
on and off the field throughout the game. There are also special players
needed at certain times (like those who can kick well). According to this
movie, college rules say that a side can only have 60 players “dressed
out” for each game, but good teams have more players than this at
practice, particularly on the scout team. Since there are 60 “dressed”
players and only 11 are on the field, 49 men “ride the bench” at any one
time, and many almost never get to play at all.
College football is a major
source of pride and money for American universities. If your college team
wins a lot, you are more likely to donate money to the university after
you graduate. Notre Dame wins a lot, so every Saturday (for 10 weeks in
the autumn), 60,000 people buy tickets to see the games in person (a
ticket can cost from $10 to $400, or more). In addition, TV stations and
advertisers pay a lot of money to the university when a game is broadcast
on TV, but they only want to broadcast popular teams who usually win. All
of this generates millions of dollars every year for universities.
Therefore, there is great competition among universities to get the best
high school football players to enroll at their school. To entice these
great high school athletes, universities offer football scholarships.
Ninety-five Notre Dame football players have “full scholarships,” even
though college athletic rules allow only 60 men to “dress out” for each
game—which means that in each game 35 football players sit in the crowd,
having had ALL of their college expenses paid but not being allowed to
compete! (There are also 10-15 scout team members—like Rudy—in the crowd
Sentences/dialogs from the movie:
(see below the “discussion” section)
1. Why do people love to watch sports? With
your partner, make a list of reasons.
2. What do you think of American football.
Why do you think it is so popular in the US? Why isn’t it popular in other
3. This movie is not really about
“football”; what is it about? How would you tell a friend what the true
“idea” behind this movie is?
4. See if you can explain why Rudy’s father
and brother would not support Rudy’s dream. Is it easy or hard to hold to
a dream without the support of your family? Explain your answer.
5. With your partner, make a list of the
people who helped Rudy along the way. Now think about your own life. Tell
your partner about someone who has helped you along the way.
6. Tell your partner one of your dreams,
and what is in the way of you obtaining it. Suggest ways to help your
partner achieve his/her dream.
Sentences/dialogs from the movie
(mostly from www.imdb.com/title/tt0108002/quotes):
1. Rudy (as a kid, quoting a speech from
a famous ND coach): We're gonna go inside, we're gonna go outside, inside
and outside. We're gonna get 'em on the run boys and once we get 'em on
the run we're gonna keep 'em on the run. And then we're gonna go go go go
go go and we're not gonna stop til we get across that goal line. This is a
team they say is... is good, well I think we're better than them. They
can't lick us, so what do you say men?
2. [Pete gives Rudy a Notre Dame jacket
for his birthday]
Rudy: How does it look?
Pete: You were born to wear that
Rudy: You're the only one who ever
took me serious, Pete.
Pete: Well, you know what my dad
always said: Having dreams is what makes life tolerable.
3. Rudy’s dad [at the bus stop, after
Pete dies and Rudy decides to go to Notre Dame]: You can take a couple of
weeks off. Your grandfather saved all of his life to bring the family to
this country. He got a good job in the stockyards. He had a nice little
house in South Chicago. I was about 12. Somebody sold him on the idea he
ought to move to the country and become a dairy farmer. Well, he buys some
land and gets a couple hundred cows. Within five months, every one of
those cows was dead with disease. It was the [period of the Great
Economic] Depression. He couldn’t sell the land. There was no work. So one
day, he took off. Didn’t come back [causing the family to split up].
Chasing a stupid dream causes nothing but you and everyone around you
heartache. Notre Dame is for rich kids… great athletes. It’s not for us.
You're a Ruettiger! There's nothing in the world wrong with being a
4. Rudy: Ever since I was a kid, I’ve
wanted to go to school here. And ever since I was a kid, everyone said it
couldn’t be done. My whole life, people have been telling me what I could
do and couldn’t do. I’ve always listened to them, and believed in what
they said. I don’t want to do that anymore.
Father Cavanaugh: OK. Here’s the
deal. Holy Cross Junior College is nearby. I can get you one semester
there. You make [good] grades, you get another semester. Then maybe, with
a high enough GPA, you might have a chance of getting into Notre Dame.
5. [Rudy sneaks into Notre Dame Stadium, so
the groundskeeper yells at him]
Fortune: Hey kid! You're not supposed
to be here!
Rudy: Hey this place is really
something else, huh? Someday I'm gonna come out of that tunnel and I'm
gonna run onto this field.
Fortune: Well it ain't gonna be this
Rudy: I'm here to play football for
Fortune: [Does] Coach Parseghian know
Rudy: No... not yet.
Fortune: Well maybe you best tell him
6. D-Bob: Are you learning stenography or
something? Everything he's mouthing is in the goddamn book.
Rudy: I gotta make an 'A' in this
D-Bob: Just remember "Sitz im Leben"
and it shouldn't be a problem.
7. Rudy: I've just blown another year of
eligibility! This entire year's been a waste!
Fortune: You’ve got your head so far
up your ass about that damn football team, you don't get the fact that you
just got a year of top quality education! Waste? Don’t be wasting my time!
8. [In a church, just before Rudy’s “last
chance” to transfer into Notre Dame]
Father Cavanaugh: You did a hell of a
job, kid, chasing down your dream.
Rudy: I don’t care what kind of job I
did. If it doesn’t produce any results, it doesn’t mean anything.
Father C: I think you’ll discover
that it will.
Rudy: Maybe I haven’t prayed enough.
Father C: I’m sure that’s not the
problem. Praying is something we do in our time. The answers come in God’s
Rudy: Have I done everything I
possible can? Can you help me?
Father C: Son, in 35 years of
religious studies, I’ve come up with only two, hard incontrovertible
facts: there is a God, and I'm not Him.
9. Coach Warren [addressing players at the
walk-on tryouts]: Let me tell it to you as clean as I can. We have 95
players here so accomplished as athletes in high school, we gave them full
scholarships to the best football program in the country. NCAA regulations
allow us to dress just 60 for home games, which means at least 35
scholarship players will be watching the games from the stands. So, if any
of you has any fantasies about running out of that stadium tunnel with
your gold helmet shining in the sun, you'd best leave them right here. Of
you 15 dreamers out there, maybe we'll keep one or two. My job is to
basically beat the shit out of you for the next five days, and whoever is
still standing at the end, maybe we’ll use for our scout teams. You’ll be
running the opposition’s plays, week in and week out. Your greatest value
to us is, we don't care whether you get hurt. Our first teams are gonna
pound on you like you're their worst enemies. Like what you hear so far?
Any of you want to run home to Mama? Joe, they're all yours.
10. Mateus [at practice, Rudy remains on
the ground after being pummeled on a block by Mateus]: Hey, are you all
right, man? Come on, get up.
Coach Yonto: Ruettiger, get out!
Rudy [springs up, refusing to be
taken out]: I can do it, coach!
Rudy [after the play is run again,
but Mateus refuses to block Rudy. So Rudy confronts Mateus loudly]: What
are you doing? I'm playing defense for Purdue!
Coach Yonto: Mateus! [grabs his
facemask] You ain't here to be no nanny in no kindergarten!
11. Head Coach Ara Parseghian: What's your
problem, O'Hare, what's your problem?
Jamie O'Hara: [It’s the] Last
practice of the season and this asshole thinks it's the Super Bowl!
Parseghian: You just summed up your
entire sorry career here in one sentence! If you had a tenth of the heart
of Ruettiger, you could have made All-American! As it is, you just went
from third team to the prep team! Get out of here!
12. Rudy: Coach, I’d just like to say
thank you for the opportunity of being part of the team.
Coach Parseghian: Rudy, I never I
thought I'd be saying this but it's been a pleasure. Now what can I do for
Rudy: One of the many things I’ve
learned this year is that no matter how hard I try, I’m never going to get
above the prep team. But I've accepted the fact that God made some people
to be football players and that I'm not one of them.
Parseghian: I wish God would put your
heart in some of my players’ bodies.
Rudy: [laughs] Yeah. My father loves
Notre Dame football more than anything else in the world. He doesn’t
believe I’m on the team because he can’t see me at the sidelines during
the games. Next year, my senior year, I’d love to be able to give him this
gift: I’d really appreciate it if you would let me dress one game next
Parseghian: Look, Rudy, the NCAA
really hamstrings us with this 60 [player limit] rule. In certain
positions we only have one backup and you know that every year we are
competing for the national championship. Is this just for your father?
Rudy: No, it’s for everyone who told
me that being a Norte Dame Football player would be impossible. It’s for
my brothers, the kids in my high school, the guys I worked with at the
mill. They can't come to practice and see that I am part of the team.
Parseghian: [sighs] Okay.
Parseghian: You deserve it. You will
dress for one game next season.
Rudy: [can barely hold in his
excitement] Thank You Coach!
13. [D-Bob is accepted at Miami Law School,
and is about to leave]
Rudy: There’s no way I can thank you
for everything you’ve done.
D-Bob: You already have. Remember
Elza, right? She's my girl now. She’s coming with me. Ain't that goddamn
D-Bob: I forgot. I’m not allowed to
say "goddamn" no more. What's a lapsed Catholic to do?
Rudy: Thanks for everything.
14. Fortune: Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey what
are you doing here? Don't you have practice?
Rudy: Not anymore. I quit.
Fortune: Oh, well since when are you
the quitting kind?
Rudy: I don't know I just don't see
the point anymore.
Fortune: So you didn't make the dress
list, there are greater tragedies in the world.
Rudy: I wanted to run out of that
tunnel for my dad, to prove to everyone that I worked...
Fortune: PROVE WHAT?
Rudy: That I was somebody.
Fortune: Oh you are so full of crap.
You're 5 foot nothin', 100 and nothin', and you have barely a speck of
athletic ability. And you hung in there with the best college football
players in the land for 2 years. And you're also gonna walk out of here
with a degree from the University of Notre Dame. In this lifetime, you
don't have to prove nothin' to nobody except yourself. And after what
you've gone through, if you haven't done that by now, it ain't gonna never
happen. Now go on back.
Rudy: I'm sorry I never got you to
see your first game in here.
Fortune: Hell I've seen too many
games in this Stadium.
Rudy: I thought you said you never
saw a game...
Fortune: I've never seen a game from
Rudy: You were a player?
Fortune: I rode the Bench for two
years. I thought I wasn't being played because of my color. I got filled
up with a lot of attitude, so I quit. [There is] Still not a week goes by
I don't regret it, and I guarantee a week won't go by in your life you
won't regret walking out letting them get the best of you. Do you hear me
15. Roland Steele: I want Rudy to dress in
my place Coach. He deserves it.
Dan Devine: [laughs] Don't be
ridiculous, Georgia Tech is one of the top offensive teams in the country.
[Steele continues to stand and stare at the Devine] You are an
All-American and our Captain, act like it!
Steele: I believe I am. [he lays his
football jersey down on Devine's desk and walks out; then a dozen other
players do the same]
16. Rudy’s Dad [Upon entering Notre Dame
Stadium]: This is the most beautiful sight these eyes have ever seen!
17. Coach Dan Devine [to the team, just
before the last game of the season]: No one, and I mean no one, comes into
our house and pushes us around.
18. Steele: Rudy, are you ready, champ?
Rudy: I've been ready for this my
Steele: Then you take us out on the
Coach: Alright, let’s go!
19. Coach Devine: You already know this but
this is the most important game of your lives, no excuses do the work. Our
lady of victory… [all together] PRAY FOR US.
20. D-Bob [when Rudy first steps onto the
field]: He's so little!
21. “The most powerful thing you can give
somebody is hope” (the real Rudy says this in a documentary—part of the
DVD’s bonus material)
Rudy quiz (You
can talk to friends about these after the movie)
1. Which statement best describes Rudy at the beginning of the film:
A. Rudy lives in a wealthy family near South Bend, Indiana.
B. Rudy is one of many children in a large Catholic family.
C. Rudy’s father is a priest, so the whole family loves Notre
2. While he was growing up, Rudy’s teachers thought he
A. daydreamed about playing football too much.
B. would someday be a great scholar.
C. should find help to overcome a learning disability called
3. Rudy wanted to attend Notre Dame University because:
A. all Catholic children want to go this Catholic university.
B. it had one of the best college football teams in the USA.
C. he wanted to be a priest someday.
4. What event (four years after finishing high school) finally got Rudy to
go to college?
A. Notre Dame University offered Rudy a full scholarship to
play football there.
B. A teacher named D-Bob taught Rudy how to overcome his
Dyslexia (reading problem).
C. An accident killed his best friend, and Rudy decided to
follow his dream.
5. When he arrived in South Bend (early in the morning), he met
A. an angry guard who told him to go back home.
B. a kind priest who helped him enroll in a Junior College.
C. his brother, who was already a football star in South
6. D-Bob helped Rudy learn how to study and overcome his Dyslexia, and in
A. paid D-Bob a fee of $5 per hour, since this was the normal
fee for a tutor.
B. gave D-Bob free tickets to see Notre Dame football games
C. helped D-Bob to find dates and to overcome shyness around
7. Like Harvard, Yale, Oxford, Cambridge and most other leading
universities, Notre Dame University:
A. started as a college to train Christian leaders.
B. offers many scholarships to play football.
C. is famous as a great place to study law.
8. The word “notre dame” means:
A. “top university” in Irish.
B. “notable woman” in Latin, and refers to the wife of a
C. “our mother” in French, and refers to the mother of Jesus.
9. Fortune, the black man who was in charge of maintenance at the
university football stadium:
A. had never seen a football game, even though he worked in a
B. gave Rudy a place to live in exchange for Rudy’s help at
C. helped Rudy understand the things that are really
important in life, like getting an education and not quitting.
10. One of the DVD extras is an interview with the real Rudy. Which of the
following statements do you think he made:
A. “Chasing a stupid dream causes nothing but heartache.”
B. “The most powerful thing you can give somebody is hope.”
C. “I wish I could have played a Hobbit in the movie Lord
of the Rings.”
(The answers are at the bottom of the Narnia