Harvard Beats Yale 29-29


Kevin Rafferty's documentary Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 looks at this historic 1968 matchup between those two longtime college football rivals. Many recall that year's edition of this annual grudge match as it was the first time in almost six decades that both schools were undefeated going into the game. The filmmakers utilize archival footage, and intercut it with new interview footage provided by many of those who played a part in that memorable game.
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Kevin Rafferty's documentary Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 looks at this historic 1968 matchup between those two longtime college football rivals. Many recall that year's edition of this annual grudge match as it was the first time in almost six decades that both schools were undefeated going into the game. The filmmakers utilize archival footage, and intercut it with new interview footage provided by many of those who played a part in that memorable game.
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Special Features

Bonus Interviews - In additional interview excerpts not included in the film, the players provide a deeper look at the season, the game, and its aftermath; ; Theatrical Trailer
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
Before going into this review, it is only fair of this writer to point out that he cares not one whit about, and has not a scintilla of interest in football. Having said that, we can also say, without equivocation, that Kevin Rafferty's Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 is a dazzling, engrossing, must-see piece of film all about...football. Except that it's also about a lot more. For background, the November 23, 1968 matchup between the two undefeated Ivy League teams marked the first time the rivals had met undefeated in more than six decades. It wasn't a championship game, or played for any trophy of any sort. It was just an ordinary game that came to be remembered for decades after, owing to the rivalry between the two schools and because of the way it ended; Harvard, the decided underdog in almost everyone's estimation, battled back from a 16-point deficit to end the game in a tie, all in the final three and a half minutes of play. Rafferty has transcended his subject, however, with a movie that intercuts very skillfully between actual and very grainy, but fully adequate footage of the game, shot and preserved by the local television station, and interviews with the surviving participants all of the key players except for future pro-ball star Calvin Hill, who apparently would not participate, are represented. What one gets is a fascinating and endlessly engrossing look at a football game that did, indeed, become about a dozen times more exciting than anyone could have expected. But also a look back, in the course of examining the game and its participants, at where one corner of the country was in 1968: one of the key players, then age 24, had just returned to college after serving in the Marines in Vietnam, including being part the siege of Khe Sanh; and these men now all in their late fifties were in the prime of their youth. It turns into a celebration of youth, and of the high point in the lives of many of the players one man -- a Harvard player, of course -- says, in all seriousness, that the final three minutes of the game were better than sex, and then has to point out, in answer to Rafferty's question, that no, he was not a virgin at the time that he first felt that about the game, as it was unfolding. It's very touching watching these men relive and, for a few seconds or minutes, recapture that youth. Most moving of all is Frederick R. "Fritz" Reed, the Harvard tackle number 75, who played a key role at a critical moment, recovering a loose ball and running it 23 yards through a flabbergasted Yale defense. He recalls it here with great modesty but enthusiasm, in a film account made shortly before his death in 2007. Rafferty, whose best-known credit is The Atomic Cafe, has achieved something much more impressive with this film. This isn't a snarky if insightful look at official folly, but a close and moving, exhilarating look at a high point in many people's young lives, and also at the world they occupied -- and to make it clear, Harvard and Yale at the time were both male-only institutions, so women are only talked about, never seen, except as part of the huge stadium crowd. Women, however, and the war and morality all figure in to what we see and hear the arrival of birth control pills in the culture had a profound indirect effect on these men's lives. Most times this up close and personal look is reassuring, though there is at least one Yale player whose sense of right and wrong is so problematic that one would hesitate to put him into a position of trust. Peripheral participants include Garry Trudeau, whose work -- then running in the campus newspaper as Bull Tales, the predecessor to Doonesbury -- is seen, plus Al Gore and George W. Bush, who are talked about, the former by his college roommate, Tommy Lee Jones, who was on the Harvard team. And there is one odd, almost incidental cinematic moment that speaks volumes about the perspective of this game and its surrounding events, and also might have delighted Stanley Kubrick. It comes up in those final minutes, when the band strikes up the opening of Richard Strauss' "Also Sprach Zarathustra" -- what would have been the odds that, without 2001: A Space Odyssey in release at the time, the band would have played the Strauss piece at a critical point in the game? And that referential moment raises another point -- as that game was being played, NASA was frantically preparing the Apollo 8 lunar orbital mission for launch just four weeks later; the world was preparing to orbit the first manned mission around the moon; the Vietnam War was still raging; and the 1968 political season, all but destroyed by assassinations and riot over the previous year, had just ended three weeks before with the very bitter Nixon-Humphrey-Wallace race. But for the players and the people in the stands, all of that was pushed into the background, for the sake of football. Rafferty has captured this phenomenon and the moments surrounding it, in about as neat and fine a film as you could make -- one that, for this non-football-loving reviewer, has proved to be not only a must-see, or a must-see-twice, but a must-see-thrice.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/4/2009
  • UPC: 738329065324
  • Original Release: 2008
  • Rating:

  • Source: Kino Video
  • Presentation: Wide Screen
  • Time: 1:44:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 46,093

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Tommy Lee Jones Participant
Brian Dowling Participant
Vic Gatto Participant
Frank Champi Participant
J.P. Goldsmith Participant
Mike Bouscaren Participant
Pat Conway Participant
Bruce Weinstein Participant
Fritz Reed Participant
Del Marting Participant
Bruce Freeman Participant
Kyle Gee Participant
Pete Varney Participant
Bob Levin Participant
George Lalich Participant
Nick Davidson Participant
Mick Kleber Participant
Bill Kelly Participant
John Ignacio Participant
Gus Crim Participant
Dick Williams Participant
Rick Frisbie Participant
Jim Gallagher Participant
Fran Gallagher Participant
Don Gillis Participant
Technical Credits
Kevin Rafferty Director, Cinematographer, Editor, Producer, Production Designer, Sound/Sound Designer
Margaret Crimmins Sound Mixer, Sound/Sound Designer
Greg Smith Musical Arrangement, Sound Mixer, Sound/Sound Designer
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Harvard Beats Yale 29-29
1. Arriving At Harvard [3:22]
2. Arriving At Yale [3:56]
3. Superheroes [1:05]
4. God Plays Quarter Back At Yale [:39]
5. Glory Days In New Haven [2:19]
6. Meanwhile, At Harvard, We Were A Rebuilding Year [8:03]
7. Harvard's Offensive Line [2:56]
8. A True Team [:55]
9. God These Guys Are Still Undefeated [2:39]
10. Hoopla [2:37]
11. Predictions [1:37]
12. It Was A Day To Play Football [1:36]
13. The Game [6:21]
14. Frank Champi Enters The Game [3:07]
16. Yale Fumbles Again [1:18]
15. The White Hankies [1:13]
17. The 40 Yard Penalty [:26]
18. The Fritz Reed Rumble [4:38]
19. Facemask [1:27]
20. Fate [3:22]
21. Three Seconds Left [5:47]
22. Pandemonium [4:30]
23. In The Locker Rooms [2:00]
24. Later That Evening [2:34]
25. It Keeps Coming Back To You [4:41]
1. Opening Titles [6:48]
2. Used To Winning [5:18]
3. Prioritizing Life [4:42]
4. The Messiah [4:16]
5. Doonebury [3:42]
6. The Sixties [6:44]
7. Friends and Lovers [6:24]
8. Confidence [8:34]
9. Halftime [7:58]
10. Grudges [5:53]
11. On The Move [5:33]
12. Flag Down [2:37]
13. You're Number Two [2:30]
14. Number 75 [3:04]
15. Interference? [5:52]
16. Down by Eight [4:23]
17. The Dream [6:44]
18. Seconds Remaining [4:57]
19. Real Serious [2:46]
20. Never Forgotten [5:29]
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Disc #1 -- Harvard Beats Yale 29-29
   Play Film
   Bonus Interviews
      Play All
   Theatrical Trailer
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