If you haven’t seen Harvard Beats Yale, get it and watch it with your kids. As much a documentary about this amazing game played in 1968, it’s a look backward at a different time. The director of this documentary, Kevin Rafferty, spends easily a third of the interviews with the players discussing the anti-war movement in 1968, the politics of the two different campuses and the sexual revolution.
I won’t give away the ending, but even knowing the score because it’s in the title, does not diminish the suspense going into the final minutes of this documentary.
Using both old color film from the game and the color commentary by the Yale and Harvard players, the key moments of the game are relived with the benefit of 40 years of experience by all involved. Yale, the superior team by all accounts, as such a commanding lead that the Yalies goof off during half time and most of the way into the fourth quarter because a Harvard comeback isn’t even possible in their imagination. Each player on both sides relives especially the last minutes as if the event was a religious experience or some shifting of the cosmos.
Almost all of the players are charming, humble, and generous in their assessments of the game and their roles in it. And, of course, it being Harvard and Yale, they make offhand references to famous people they were dating at the time (Meryl Streep) or rooming with (George Bush, Al Gore). Tommy Lee Jones was an offensive tackle on the Harvard team of 1968 and has a major role in the film, though his are dreary appearance since he appears grumpy about the story for some reason.
The film is also a fun football highlight reel of some stunning college ball for those of us Jonesing for some Monday Night entertainment during the long months of Spring and early Summer.
Kids will be pulled into the story because of it’s David and Goliath like story and ending, and dads will enjoy the look back at a simpler time in America when all the men wore hats and these two all-boys schools had male cheerleaders.