The Iron Major

The Iron Major is a 1943 American biographical film about the famed college football coach and World War I hero, Frank Cavanaugh. Directed by Ray Enright, the screenplay was written by Aben Kandel and Warren Duff, based on Florence E. Cavanaugh's story.

The Iron Major
Directed byRay Enright
Edward Killy (associate)
Produced byRobert Fellows
Written byC. Bakaleinikoff
Roy Webb
Screenplay byAben Kandel
Warren Duff
Story byFlorence E. Cavanaugh
StarringPat O'Brien
Ruth Warrick
Robert Ryan
Music byRoy Webb
CinematographyRobert de Grasse
Edited byRobert Wise
Philip Martin, Jr.
Release date
  • October 25, 1943 (1943-10-25)[1]
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1 million (US rentals)[2]

Produced and directed by RKO Radio Pictures, the film premiered in Boston on October 25, 1943. The picture stars Pat O'Brien as Major Cavanaugh, along with Ruth Warrick and Robert Ryan.


Florence Cavanaugh and a priest, Tim Donovan, recall how in the 1890s, her husband Frank was playing college football for Dartmouth and then moved west to become a coach. "Cav" is introduced to Florence and eventually moves back east where he coaches at Holy Cross, where the football team's players include Tim.

Although he is father to seven children, Cav enlists in the war effort. A major, he is involved in heavy combat and seriously wounded, but recovers, gaining his nickname in the process. He ultimately returns home to continue coaching at Boston College, but an illness causes Cav to go blind, then ultimately claims his life.



  1. "The Iron Major: Detail View". American Film Institute. Archived from the original on March 29, 2014. Retrieved September 18, 2014.
  2. "Top Grossers of the Season", Variety, 5 January 1944 p 54
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