One of the greatest college football games was played on November 23, 1968, during the height of the Vietnam War when undefeated Harvard scored sixteen points in the last 42 seconds of The Game, including a two-point conversion, to tie arch-rival (and, until then, undefeated) Yale, 29-29.
I, along with more than a half million other Vietnam veterans, didn’t have the chance to see that game, nor read about the next day, since we were otherwise engaged in Southeast Asia. Now we will be able to get a feel for what happened that day with Harvard Beats Yale, 29-29 , Kevin Rafferty’s just-out 40th-anniversary documentary, which has received rave reviews in The New York Times and the Boston Phoenix.
In the film, Rafferty (who, among other things, directed, produced, and edited the very funny and kind-of-scary documentary Atomic Cafe , which looks at the bomb and the fifties, and shot Michael Moore’s first doc, Roger and Me ), uses contemporary interviews with 40 former players as well as grainy black and white footage of the amazing game.
It is quite a cast, including Harvard offensive guard Tommy Lee Jones (yes, that Tommy Lee Jones, who roomed with Al Gore at Harvard) and Yale captain and quarterback Brian Dowling (above) , the legendary athlete immortalized as “B.D.” by his Yale classmate Garry Trudeau in “Doonesbury.” Aside from taking place at the war’s height, the film deals directly with the conflict in the form of ne of the players, former Harvard defensive back Pat Conroy, who talks to Rafferty about being a Vietnam veteran.
Harvard Beats Yale (you have to love the title, which is what the Harvard Crimson used as its headline) is now on the documentary circuit. To see if it’s coming to your town, go to the film’s website .