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|Vince Vaughn||Jamie O'Hara|
|Ned Beatty||Daniel Ruettiger|
|Scott Benjaminson||Frank Ruettiger|
|Mary Ann Thebus||Betty|
|Charles S. Dutton||Fortune|
|Deborah Wittenberg||Young Sherry|
|Christopher Erwin||7-Year-Old Mark|
|Kevin Duda||9-Year-Old Bernie|
|Robert Benirschke||11-Year-Old Mark|
|Luke Massery||13-Year-Old Rudy|
|Robert J. Steinmiller Jr.||13-Year-Old Pete|
|Jason Miller||Ara Parseghian|
|Robert Prosky||Father Cavanaugh|
|Chelcie Ross||Dan Devine|
|Sean Astin||Daniel E. 'Rudy' Ruettiger|
|John Duda||15-Year-Old Frank|
"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, It's the size of the fight in the dog."
"When people say dreams don't come true, tell them about Rudy."
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., who is also a Notre Dame fan. He prepares to settle down, but 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 resolves to do everything he can to get into the football powerhouse.
He leaves for the campus but fails to get admitted to Notre Dame. With the help and sponsorship of a local priest, Rudy starts at Holy Cross College, a nearby small junior college, hoping to get good enough grades to qualify for a transfer. In keeping with his football dream, he goes to the Notre Dame stadium groundskeeper named Fortune and volunteers to work for free. Simultaneously, he sneaks in and out of Fortune's office at night through a window and sleeps on a cot, having no place to live of his own. At first, Fortune is indifferent toward Rudy but gradually sees his sincerity and later provides Rudy with a key of his own to his office. The next day, Rudy thanks Fortune for the key, but Fortune responds that he knows nothing about it, tacitly exhorting Rudy to keep it a secret. Rudy learns that Fortune has never seen a Notre Dame football game, despite having worked at the stadium for years.
At Holy Cross, Rudy befriends D-Bob, a graduate student at Notre Dame and a teaching assistant at Rudy's junior college. The socially-awkward D-Bob offers to tutor Rudy in exchange for help in meeting girls. Suspecting an underlying cause to Ruettiger's previous academic problems, D-Bob has Rudy tested, and Rudy finds out that he has dyslexia. Rudy learns how to overcome his disability and becomes a better student. Meanwhile, Rudy's efforts at setting D-Bob up with attractive girls at Holy Cross prove fruitless, until one girl offers to set D-Bob up with Elsa, a shy and homely co-ed. 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.
After numerous rejections, 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 goes to the stadium, thanks Fortune for his help, and returns the office key. Rudy persuades Fortune to promise to come see his first game if Rudy dresses. 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 won't 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. Just before Rudy's final year, D-Bob visits and announces he is leaving for law school in Miami with Elsa, now his fiance. Rudy thanks D-Bob for all his help. Coach Devine keeps Rudy on the team, but refuses to list him on the active playing roster before games. 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 asks why he is not at practice. Rudy tells him he has quit, and Fortune chastises Rudy for giving up. Rudy learns for the first time that Fortune has seen his share of Notre Dame games because he was once on the team but has never seen a game from the stands. Fortune had quit the team because he felt he was not playing due to his skin color. Fortune reminds Rudy of all he has accomplished, 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 is persuaded to return to the team.
Led by senior 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 final game of the season. In response, Devine lets Ruettiger suit up for the final home game, against Georgia Tech.
At the final home game, Steele invites Ruettiger to lead the team out of the tunnel onto the playing field. Before the team runs out, Rudy sees Fortune (who is at his first Notre Dame game as promised) and smiles. As the game nears its end with Notre Dame up 17-3, Devine sends all the seniors to the field but refuses to let Rudy play, despite the pleas from Steele and the assistant coaches. As a "Rudy!" chant spreads from the Notre Dame bench into 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 the game and thus be entered onto the official roster of Notre Dame football players. Devine finally lets Rudy enter the field with the defensive team on the final kickoff. He 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.
Theatrical : 1993-10-13 : United States of America
DVD : 2001-08-28