Harvard Beats Yale 29-29

Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 relates how the undefeated 1968 Harvard football team met undefeated Yale and, trailing by 16 points with 42 seconds left in the game, scored twice to confound its arch rival with a tie. Filmmaker Kevin Rafferty, then a Harvard undergrad, was an eyewitness to “The Game,” as this Cambridge miracle was dubbed, and his account is enjoyably steeped in ambience and ambivalence. As interviewed by Rafferty, the Crimson are definitely more salt of the earth—or at least less preppy—than the Bulldogs. Harvard lineman Tommy Lee Jones is on hand to intone the requisite ’60s clichés with exquisite sanctimony, and a very young Meryl Streep makes an unexpected cameo, albeit in a photograph. The talking heads are intercut with The Game—an excellent way to watch it, especially as the first half consists of Yale crushing the vaunted Harvard defense. Yale draws a few penalties, calls a bizarre time-out, and fails to adjust for an onside kick, but it’s a disputed instance of pass interference that cues the movie’s Zapruder moment. Brian’s Song, Jerry Maguire, and The Longest Yard notwithstanding, Rafferty’s no-frills annotated replay is the best football movie I’ve ever seen: A particular day in history becomes a moment out of time. J. HOBERMAN

March 20-26, 7 & 9 p.m., 2009

 
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