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The Express (2008)

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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.

Director:

Gary Fleder
1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Rob Brown ... Ernie Davis
Dennis Quaid ... Ben Schwartzwalder
Darrin Dewitt Henson ... Jim Brown
Omar Benson Miller ... Jack Buckley
Nelsan Ellis ... Will Davis, Jr.
Charles S. Dutton ... Willie 'Pops' Davis
Justin Martin ... Young Ernie
Justin Jones Justin Jones ... Young Will
Nicole Beharie ... Sarah Ward
Aunjanue Ellis ... Marie Davis
Elizabeth Shivers ... Elizabeth Davis
Clancy Brown ... Roy Simmons
Danny McCarthy ... Bill Bell
Regina Hoyles ... Sister
Chelcie Ross ... Lew Andreas
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Storyline

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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

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

Genres:

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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

USA | Germany

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 October 2008 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Express: The Ernie Davis Story See more »

Filming Locations:

Berwyn, Illinois, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$40,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,562,675, 12 October 2008, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$9,589,875, 2 November 2008
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

SDDS | DTS | Dolby Digital

Color:

Black and White | Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The scene where Ernie Davis is introduced on the field during a Cleveland Brown's home pre-season game was filmed at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The uniquely styled rooftop lights and press box are visible behind Rob Brown. See more »

Goofs

When Jim Brown is first introduced in the movie, he receives his Cleveland Browns jersey from Art Modell in 1957. Modell bought the Cleveland Browns in 1961. See more »

Quotes

[First Line]
Ernie Davis: 21 straight lines five yards apart. That is a football field. But there are other lines you don'T see that run deeper and wider. All the way through the country, and aren't part of any game.
See more »

Connections

Features 1960 Cotton Bowl (1960) See more »

Soundtracks

Don't Forget
Written by Steve Weisberg
Performed by Pablo Calogero
Courtesy of Stove Proeber Music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
The Express Movie Review from The Massie Twins
9 October 2008 | by GoneWithTheTwinsSee all my reviews

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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