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John Harvard's Journal

29-29, Forever

A new DVD and book capture the legendary 1968 Harvard-Yale game.

November-December 2009

Some—in fact, many—have called it the greatest football game ever played. Now, The Game of all Games—the battle of undefeated Harvard and Yale squads on November 23, 1968, that ended with both squads still undefeated after Harvard scored 16 points in the final 42 seconds to tie Yale, 29-29—is preserved in three media: film, book, and DVD. The film, by Kevin Rafferty ’70, intercuts footage from the game film, working through the contest quarter by quarter, with recent interviews Rafferty did with players on both teams. It makes for a captivating documentary, mixing high drama with social, cultural, and political history—a climactic sporting event set against the backdrop of Vietnam and the 1960s. When Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 had its limited theatrical release a year ago, the New York Times called it “preposterously entertaining” and said that the movie “pulses with the artful, exciting beats of a thriller.” The Village Voice’s critic flatly declared it “the best football movie I’ve ever seen.”

The DVD (www.kino.com/harvardbeatsyale), released this fall, includes the 104-minute documentary plus 73 additional minutes of interviews with the players, who include Yale’s quarterback Brian Dowling (the model for the “B.D.” character in Doonesbury) and actor Tommy Lee Jones ’69. In addition, Rafferty has written a profusely illustrated book, with the same title, published this October by Overlook Press. The volume draws on the filmed interviews and includes many color photographs of the athletes and the game, and even a few early cartoons by Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau. (Prior to this year’s contest, in New Haven, Trudeau and Rafferty, along with 1968 captains Dowling and Vic Gatto ’69, will sign copies.) Some cavilers occasionally question whether the Harvard-Yale game really merits being called The Game. The 1968 contest leaves no room for doubt.