The Express

  • Directors: Gary Fleder
  • Producers: John Davis
  • Writers: Charles Leavitt, Robert C Gallagher
  • Genres: Biography, Drama, Sport
  • Actors: Rob Brown, Charles S Dutton, Dennis Quaid

The movie begins with Ernie Davis as a young African American boy growing up in Uniontown, Pennsylvania in the late 1940s. Ernie and his same-aged uncle, Will Davis, Jr., experience racism by neighborhood bullies, which forces Ernie to use his superior athletic ability to escape harm. Ernie lives with his grandparents, including his grandfather Will Davis (affectionally known as “Pops”), who helps Ernie overcome a stuttering problem by reading passages from the Bible. Pops also introduces Ernie to the story of Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play in Major League Baseball, and Ernie pins a picture of Jackie Robinson to his bedroom wall. Ernie’s mother, Marie Davis, eventually returns to inform the family that she has remarried and can now afford to raise Ernie at her home in Elmira, New York.

Upon relocating to Elmira, Ernie is excited to see a Small Fry Football League and joins the local team. Although he experiences slights because of his race, he excels on the football field as a running back and is clearly the best player on the field.

Several years later, Syracuse University football head coach Ben Schwartzwalder is searching for a running back to address the absence of Jim Brown, the graduating player completing his All-American senior season. After rejecting several talented prospects because of perceived laziness or injuries, Schwartzwalder is intrigued after seeing footage of Ernie playing for Elmira Free Academy.

The movie concludes with a written narrative explaining that Ernie died on May 18, 1963, that 10,000 people attended his funeral service, and that President Kennedy sent a sympathy telegram that was read at the service. It also explains that Little continued the tradition of wearing the uniform #44 while playing at Syracuse to honor Ernie.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *