Nelson Mandela, in his first term as the South African President, initiates a unique venture to unite the apartheid-torn land: enlist the national rugby team on a mission to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
This biopic focuses on the relationship of Ernie Davis (1939-1963), a gifted African-American athlete, and his coach from 1958 to 1962 at Syracuse University, Ben Schwartzwalder (1909-1993). Schwartzwalder recruits Davis with the help of All-American running back, Jim Brown. The civil rights movement is gaining steam; Davis experiences prejudice on campus, in town, and on the field, sometimes from teammates. How he handles it and how he challenges Schwartzwalder to stand up for his players provide a counterpoint to several great seasons that lead first to a national championship and then to the Heismann Trophy. Written by
The Express was one of the best sports movies I have seen. It tells the story of Ernie Davis, who was the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy and his relationship with his coach, Ben Schwarzwalder.
It is set in the late 50's where there was still a great deal of prejudice against African Americans, even in the northern states where segregation was not overt. Ernie's optimism and willingness to be the best football player he can be, not just the best African American football player was portrayed perfectly by Rob Brown. He was inspiring and you couldn't help rooting for him to succeed.
Ben was a crusty, set in his ways coach, who couldn't see beyond winning the game. Ernie helped him see that a football team is made up of individuals who have to pull together to achieve their goals. Dennis Quaid is an excellent actor, who can say so much with just a smile or a raised eyebrow. He is so natural, it is as if he isn't acting at all. Dennis & Rob have a very good chemistry, and they made every scene believable.
The Express was similar to the Rookie, another great film that Dennis Quaid starred in. Both films had just the right amount of drama, set off with little bits of comedy to relieve the tension.
At the showing I attended, the audience was very moved by the film because when it was over, there was much applause, something you don't hear much in movies these days.
You don't have to be a football fan to love this movie. I highly recommend it.
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