At the NFL Draft, general manager Sonny Weaver has the opportunity to rebuild his team when he trades for the number one pick. He must decide what he's willing to sacrifice on a life-changing day for a few hundred young men with NFL dreams.
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
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 »
In the big bonus check Modell presents to Davis, as well as the letter Davis mails to the editor at the Saturday Evening Post, the addresses contain ZIP codes. ZIP codes were not introduced to the public until 1963, a few weeks after Davis died. Prior to July 1963, the Post Office used zone numbers (for example, Cleveland 14, O.). See more »
Thing is, I don't know how much more is in front of me, and as you see from the number of pages if you've read this far, I did have a few things to say and I'm not sure hopw to end this, or even if I want to. It's funny. Most people think my life has been all about football. I've even thought that myself. But football is just a game. What matters is what you play for. Sometimes when the game is close and eveything is on the line, that's when you forget the croud and the noise. That's...
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There's no doubt that Ernie Davis led an inspirational and tragically moving life, yet the formulaic presentation and stereotypical structure to the motivational sports drama doesn't provide an appropriately unique platform to tell his story. Perhaps his life is the epitome of the genre, but we've seen this same tale numerous times only with different sports and slightly different obstacles. The Express does an exemplary job of recreating an era and a football legend with plenty of heart and exciting action, but an overlong running time and an over-attentiveness to specific dates and historical accuracy diminishes the entertainment and amps up the documentary vibe.
Ever since he was a young boy growing up in Pennsylvania, Ernie Davis was forced to overcome harsh adversity, and perhaps the greatest came when he was recruited to play college football for Syracuse. The Express chronicles the tragically short, yet monumentally accomplished life of the first African-American to ever win the Heisman Trophy.
All the actors involved portrayed their respective real-life characters with enthusiasm and charisma aplenty, however far too many seemed included just to fill a stereotypical role in such films. Since it's based on a true story, perhaps all of these people really existed. Dennis Quaid gives a notable hard-edged, tough-coach-with-a-heart-of-gold performance who admirably avoids too many lengthy inspirational speeches, yet still manages to breach the trying-too-hard to act tough line at a few points throughout the film.
Once again Hollywood has churned out an inspirational sports drama with that winning blend of feel-good momentum and underdog accomplishments. Although the sport keeps changing, the formula stays the same, and so the significance of this based-on-a-true-story adaptation feels overdone and imitative. Realistic, well-acted, but ultimately more of the same tried-and-true storytelling, The Express is a perfect movie-going experience for those who know exactly what the film is all about before watching it.
The Massie Twins
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