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A drama based on the life of college football hero Ernie Davis, the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy.


1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Justin Jones ...
Danny McCarthy ...


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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


He changed our country... one yard at a time.


Biography | Drama | Sport

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic content, violence and language involving racism, and for brief sensuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

10 October 2008 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Express: The Ernie Davis Story  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$40,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$4,562,675 (USA) (10 October 2008)


$9,589,875 (USA) (31 October 2008)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


| (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Nicole Beharie portrays a girl friend (Sarah Ward) and a Wife (Rachel Robinson in 42 (2013)) to men who broke the color barrier in two different sports. Jackie Robinson was the first African American to play Major League Baseball and Ernie Davis the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy. See more »


After Davis comes back into the game in the movie, Syracuse then pulls away for the win on an 87 yard touchdown catch and run by Davis. Fact is the 87 yd catch and run occurred on the 3rd play (from scrimmage) of the game on 2 down and 27 after a holding penalty on Syracuse. See more »


[watching Ernie practice against high school players]
Jim Brown: He's too fast for these kids.
Ben Schwartzwalder: He's too fast for anybody.
See more »


Referenced in Jeopardy!: Episode #26.186 (2010) See more »


Let The Good Times Roll
Written by Leonard Lee, Shirley Goodman
Performed by Shirley & Lee
Courtesy of Capitol Records
Under license from EMI Film & Television Music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Inspiring Sports Movie
12 October 2008 | by (Farmingdale, NY) – See all my reviews

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.

33 of 41 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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