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Harvard Beats Yale 29-29

50 customer reviews

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(Aug 04, 2009)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

An incredible true story that unfolds like a ripping good yarn... With an uproarious, impossible Hollywood ending (Andrew O Hehir,, Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 is filmmaker Kevin Rafferty s (The Atomic Cafe) acclaimed documentary depicting one of the most legendary games in the history of sports. Harvard Stadium November 23, 1968. With Vietnam raging, Nixon in the White House, and issues from civil rights to women's lib dividing the country, Harvard and Yale, both teams undefeated for the first time since 1909, meet for the annual climax of the Ivy League football season. On the blue-blooded Yale campus, gridiron fever has made local celebrities out of a Yale team led by quarterback Brian Dowling, who hadn t lost a game that he finished since the 7th grade, and who was the role model for Doonesbury s B.D. At civil unrest scarred Harvard, a melting pot team of working class players, antiwar activists, and a decorated Vietnam vet set aside their differences for the Big Game. Together, Yale and Harvard stage an unforgettable football contest that baffled even their own coaches. Using vintage game footage and bracingly honest contemporary interviews with the players from both sides, including Harvard lineman and future Oscar® winner Tommy Lee Jones (No Country for Old Men), Rafferty crafts an alternately suspenseful, hilarious, and poignant portrait of American lives, American sports, and American ideals both tested on the playing field and transformed by turbulent times.

Special Features:
- Bonus Interviews (73 min.) Additional interview excerpts not included in the film, the players provide a deeper look at the season, the game, and its aftermath.
- Theatrical Trailer


WONDERFUL... An Irresistible Human Story And As Fine A Documentary About Football As HOOP DREAMS Was On Basketball. --Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

Preposterously Entertaining... Pulses with the Artful, exciting beats of a Thriller. --Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

The Best Football Movie I've Ever Seen. --J. Hoberman, The Village Voice

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Tommy Lee Jones, Brian Dowling, Vic Gatto, Frank Champi, J.P. Goldsmith
  • Directors: Kevin Rafferty
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Letterboxed, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • DVD Release Date: August 4, 2009
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00260LFAG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,525 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By M. Heller on April 14, 2009
Format: DVD
I was in high school in 1968 and remember the game and its legend well. My wife knew nothing of the game. We both loved the movie. Rafferty skillfully weaves interviews with players with footage of the game and narration in an insightful and entertaining fashion. He also has a remarkably wry sense of humor. It's not a comedy but I found the audience erupting into laughter more often than at most mainstream comedies.
I saw it at a movie theater but I think it should be great on DVD at home.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By John S on July 18, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I know very little about football. My girlfriend knows even less. Yet we were both captivated and delighted by this film.

Aside from getting caught up in the unfolding action of a football game that is more incredible than any fictionalized game I've seen, we really enjoyed the experience of the 60's that the film evoked through the stories told by the players. These are the most thoughtful, witty football players imaginable, and they drew us in with their frankness, insights, humor, and the reflectiveness that the 40 years of life-experience since the game have given them.

No matter who speaks in the movie, whether it's the guy who keeps wanting to hurt people to get them out of the game, the "aloof," introspective second string quarterback who can throw the ball 50 yards with either hand, Tommy Lee Jones, who was roommates with Al Gore and is about to hang up his helmet for good and move to Hollywood, or the Jewish player whose father tells him to play on the Sabbath, all the personal stories are beautifully edited together by the filmmaker to make an engrossing tale that's as much about interesting people living through a dramatic time as it is about a football game.

I think this film will continue to be around for a long time to come.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Douglas S. Wood on January 9, 2010
Format: DVD
This documentary film about a 1968 football game between rivals Harvard and Yale is great fun and also opens a little window on "The Sixties" (which really went from around 1965 to 1974 as one of the players points out). Filmmaker Kevin Rafferty (The Atomic Cafe (Collector's Edition)) tracked down Harvard and Yale players some four decades after the game and skillfully mixes game footage with the player interviews. The result is 73 captivating minutes of sports, social commentary, and even celebrity watching.

How is a tie a win? Both teams were unbeaten going into the final game of the year, but Yale had future Dallas Cowboy star Calvin Hill and a number 16 ranking in the polls (Yale? 16th in the land?!). Yale goes out to a big lead and has the game well in hand until odd things begin to happen. Still down 29-13 with a minute to play, Harvard manages to score two touchdowns plus two two-point conversions in the final 42 seconds to "win" the game, 29-29. (Harvard was aided by Yale's astonishing lack of an onside kick return play that helped Harvard regain possession of the ball and begin its final drive.)

Football aside, the film features Tommie Lee Jones (No Country for Old Men), then an all-conference lineman for Harvard and Al Gore's roommate! Yale's QB, Brian Dowling was the inspiration for Doonesbury's B.D. And George W. Bush gets a mention for hanging from the goal posts in a state of inebriation after an earlier Yale win at Princeton. Another player (now bald on top and thick in the middle) was dating a shy and reserved Meryl Streep. The Vietnam War always in the background and sometimes took center stage - at least at Harvard.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Eclect on August 17, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Kevin Rafferty has done a masterful job in recreating the last time ever that Harvard and Yale played "The Game" to a tie in 1968. (Overtime now ensures that there will be no more ties.) The film consists entirely of three elements: (1) footage from the television broadcast, (2) interviews with the players, and (3) minimal graphics to tie the story together. Just the players - no coaches, no officials, no people in the stands, no commentariat. Of course, this is being recalled forty years after the fact, and some memories don't entirely jive with those of others or with the television clips. Watching the hour-plus of outtake interviews gives an even fuller picture, while making one grateful that Rafferty was judicious in his final cut. Probably best not to watch both the film and the bonus in one sitting.

If you think the only football games worthy of attention are professional and BCS caliber teams, you won't be interested in this movie. If you have nothing but antipathy (or worse) for the Ivy League, don't bother. If you are interested in a historical re-creation of an event that profoundly affected 40+ men who were coming of age in a time of considerable outside stress (the military draft at the height of the Vietnam war) and hearing their reactions to something that happened two-thirds of their lives ago, you could do a lot worse. If you're a Doonesbury fan from way back, you will also find it of interest.

The answer to the question why Calvin Hill was not featured more is that he declined to talk to Rafferty.
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Harvard Beats Yale 29-29
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