Even though I am a moderate fan of sports I have to admit I knew nothing about
Ernie Davis and his story. Ernie Davis was the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy. We did not hear about this American hero like we did about Jackie Robinson. Why? His story is just as compelling. Is it because he did not make it to the professional leagues? If so, that is quite weak as he was just as trailblazing as Robinson.
Now that I've finished with my political soap box stuff I will go on with a film review. Everyone loves a film or story about a hero or underdog. That is why we keep telling their stories again and again. They all end the same with the hero/underdog triumphing against great odds. Yet no matter how many times we see this story we are never bored. We all have a soft spot in our hearts for this type of story, no matter how average the film is. It inspires us and makes us believe that almost anyone can be a hero.
There are the usual racism scenes, fistfights and game action scenes. Then of course he begins to triumph over evil and all's well that ends well. What sort of caught my attention or actually failed to was that none of the relationships within the film – Ernie Davis (Rob Brown – Finding Forrester, Coach Carter) and his Coach Schwartzalder (Dennis Quaid – Vantage Point, Far From Heaven), Ernie Davis and his girlfriend, Sarah Ward (Nicole Beharie – American Violet), etc. We did not go into depth on any of them which did not allow me to care as much as I wanted to. Even the part where Ernie starts to get nosebleeds we are not really sure why and we don't even really care enough to think about it.
This film about the great black running back from Syracuse Ernie Davis who was the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy given to the best football player in all of the NCAA is made for your average Joe and not for the serious football (or sports) fan. This is the story of a young man who shouldered this huge burden and despite all the odds (health and racism) stacked against him he triumphed in a big way. We love how Ernie is able to open the mind and heart of his tired-from-life coach and blaze a path for future Black athletes.
Bottom line, despite the flaws in the film, we still want to stand up and cheer at the end for Ernie Davis, a great athlete and an even better person.
-Making of The Express
-Making History: The Story of Ernie Davis
-Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Director Gary Fleder
-Inside the Playbook: Shooting the Football Games
-From Hollywood to Syracuse: The Legacy of Ernie Davis