Joe Montana set off a firestorm by saying in an interview that certain aspects of the inspirational movie Rudy, based on Rudy Ruettiger’s life-long dream to play football for Notre Dame, were inaccurate. I’m not sure what the big deal is, except maybe Montana could be a lot more gracious all these years later. He’s the one who turned out to be the superstar, right? People have known for years that portions of the film were dramatized for effect, and individuals portrayed in the film have admitted as much. In fact, some people depicted in the film don’t even exist. That’s why it’s a movie, folks. Relax. Following are five things in the film that are known to be untrue.
1. All parties, Rudy Ruettiger himself, admit the jersey-throwing scene never happened. Remember in the movie when members of the team toss their jersey onto Coach Dan Devine’s desk, saying they won’t play if Rudy doesn’t get dressed for the final game? Didn’t happen. In fact, Rudy was told several days before the game he could suit up. Although Rudy maintained that members of the team did pressure the coach to let him play, while Coach Dan Devine in his memoir said he decided alone that Rudy would dress and play that game.
2. Speaking of Coach Devine, he says he agreed to be dramatized as “the heavy” in the film, but seemed to be surprised that in Hollywood “the heavy” sometimes means “the villain.” He also said of the film: “The jersey scene is unforgivable, it’s a lie and untrue.”
3. In the film Rudy has an older brother Frank who constantly chides his younger brother’s ambitions. In fact, Rudy is the oldest son in the family, has no brother named Frank and no sibling who fits the Frank role. Rudy told the NY Times that fictitional person was the “composite of everyone who ever discouraged” him.
4. And Frank is not the only character composite. Remember the ever-encouraging groundskeeper? Sorry, didn’t exist and that’s right, you guessed it: he’s the composite of everyone who did encourage him.
5. The crowd chanting scene, happened after Rudy made his play, not before as a source of pressure to the coach to let him play.
And possibly a sixth: Montana also says the scene where they carried Ruettiger off the field victoriously was not portrayed accurately and in reality was “kinda playin’ around … I won’t say as a joke, but playing around.”
Does it matter? The movie inspires kids to dream big and that hard work pays off. If there’s a little dramatization for effect in the process, what’s the harm? That’s why they say BASED on a true story, folks.