Universal Pictures | Release Date: October 10, 2008
8.1
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ChadS.Oct 13, 2008
The testimonals are in. With regard to the motivation behind the late Don Haskins' recruitment of black players for his Texas Western(now Texas-El Paso) basketball program, by all accounts, "The Bear", was not a racist bear, or a The testimonals are in. With regard to the motivation behind the late Don Haskins' recruitment of black players for his Texas Western(now Texas-El Paso) basketball program, by all accounts, "The Bear", was not a racist bear, or a cross-purposes bear who suited up African-American athletes for the sole purpose of winning games. He did so, because, to quote the late Quaker Oats pitchman Wilford Brimley, "It [was] the right thing to do." For Ben Schwartzwalder(Dennis Quaid), it was the shrewd thing to do. "The Express" is more than the story about the first black Heisman Trophy winner, it's also about a coach who exploited intergration mandates from the vantage point of an opportunist, more so than of a social activist. In the film room, during the recruiting process, his staff reluctantly plays Ernie Davis' highlight reel, even though the Syracuse Orangemen just came off a successful run with future NFL great Jim Brown. Later, when Coach Schwartzwalder tells Ernie(Ron Davis) that "it's not about trophies, it's about games," the filmmaker leaves out the fact that Brown finished fifth in the Heisman voting to Notre Dame's Paul Hornung, a quarterback who led the Fighting Irish to a 2-8 record. While "The Express" purports to be about institutionalized racism, more so than the Cotton Bowl donnybrook with the University of Texas, the film should record this travesty, because the 1956 Heisman race was all about not giving the award to Brown. If Syracuse lost to the Longhorns, they'd lose as a team. Brown, on the other hand, lost because he was black. Ernie Davis' life is a story that deserves recognition, but "The Express" belongs to Coach Schwartzwalder, a man with so many contradictions, he forces the film into collusion, seemingly, in order to keep him within shouting distance of redemption. Soon after Ernie's teammate Jack(Omar Benson Miller) comments on the coach's no fraternization with white girls policy, on cue, a black girl approaches the two student-athletes. If Ernie dated a white girl, it would force the film's hand and go places outside the confines of the inspirational sports movie. Expand
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