Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 (2008) - Don't Count Your Chickens...

On the Menu: HARVARD BEATS YALE 29-29 (2008)

Ingredients: Tommy Lee Jones, Brian Dowling, Frank Champi, Bob Levin, Mike Bouscaren, J.P. Goldsmith, Vic Gatto and nearly 40 other players. Directed by Kevin Rafferty. Run time: 105 minutes. Rated: PG.

At First Bite: Like the last documentary I watched, I came across this one while flipping channels and set the DVR for its next appearance on ESPN Classic. The title was intriguing. I had never heard of this legendary football game. Then, it IS an Ivy League matchup, not FSU-Miami or Ohio State-Michigan.

On November 23, 1968, an undefeated and 16th-ranked Yale squad came into Harvard Stadium for the final game of the season. The Crimson of Harvard were also 8-0, but were considered major underdogs.

The Bulldogs took a 22-6 lead into halftime, and were up 29-13 with just over 42 seconds to play.

Tough to Swallow: Each new interview would include a chyron to introduce the player, e.g., Harvard Defensive Back Pat Conway. Subsequent interviews with the same player would only use the school name. Since the movie relies on a lot of game footage, it would have been nice to have also known each player's jersey number.

Sucks that four-time NFL Pro Bowler Calvin Hill (Yale running back) chose not to participate. I mean, poor Bouscaren had a costly fumble and TWO major penalties that allowed Harvard to come back, and he still did the movie.

Some shots might linger a bit too long.

Something to Chew On: The film was released in 2008 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the game.

The film's title is from the headline of the Harvard student newspaper following the game.

Rafferty directed, edited, shot and produced.

Both teams had not entered this game undefeated since 1909.

Tommy Lee Jones was #61 (seen in the photo above), an All-Ivy League first-team selection at guard.

an informing Q&A with Rafferty on putting the movie together.

During the credits, someone is playing "Dixie" using a touch-tone phone, which is an reference to Jones describing what his roommate Al Gore did for fun.

Even if you don't like football, this documentary is entertaining. The players' recollections include the Vietnam War, Doonesbury and even Meryl Streep. Most of those interesting tangents happen in the film's first hour, or, as the film is cut, before halftime of the game.

It's just so much fun to listen to the players remember, or misremember, the actual game.

I'll tell ya what though, Yale had some poor clock management and end-of-game strategy.

I'll also say you don't have to like football to enjoy this documentary.


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