American Football Database
Harvard Beats Yale 29-29
Directed byKevin Rafferty
Produced byKevin Rafferty
StarringTommy Lee Jones
Brian Dowling
CinematographyKevin Rafferty
Editing byKevin Rafferty
StudioKevin Rafferty Productions
Distributed byGravitas Ventures
Kino International
Release date(s)
  • September 5, 2008 (2008-09-05)
Running time105 minutes
CountryUnited States

Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 is a 2008 documentary film by Kevin Rafferty, covering the 1968 meeting between the football teams of Yale and Harvard in their storied rivalry. The game has been called "the most famous football game in Ivy League history".[1][2][3][4][5][6]


For the first time since 1909, the football teams of Harvard and Yale were each undefeated with 6-0 records in their conference (8-0 overall) when they met for their season's final game on November 23, 1968[1] at Harvard Stadium.[7] Led by their quarterback captain Brian Dowling, nationally-ranked Yale was heavily favored to win and they quickly led the game 22–0.[8] With two minutes remaining on the clock they still led 29–13.[1] As the last seconds ticked down, Harvard, coached by John Yovicsin, tied the game, scoring 16 points in the final 42 seconds.[1][8] The Harvard Crimson declared victory with a famous headline, "Harvard Beats Yale 29-29,"[1][8] providing the title for Rafferty’s documentary.[2][3][4][5][9]


Created essentially as a one-man production, Rafferty followed a simple production plan by inter-cutting broadcast video of the game with interviews he'd done with close to 50 of the surviving players.[4] The broadcast video was a color kinescope of the WHDH telecast, with Don Gillis doing the play-by-play.[10] The film was set to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 1968 game between Yale and Harvard.[11]

The documentary includes game footage with contemporary interviews with the men who played that day, as well as contextual commentary about the Vietnam War, the sexual revolution, Garry Trudeau's Yale cartoons, and various players' relationships with George W. Bush (Yale), Al Gore (Harvard), and Meryl Streep (Vassar).


  • Tommy Lee Jones as himself – Harvard Guard
  • Brian Dowling as himself – Yale Quarterback (Team Captain)
  • Don Gillis as himself – Sportscaster
  • George Bass as himself – Yale Tackle
  • Frank Champi as himself – Harvard Quarterback
  • George Lalich as himself – Harvard Quarterback
  • Gus Crim as himself – Harvard Fullback
  • Bruce Freeman as himself – Harvard End
  • Rick Frisbie as himself – Harvard Cornerback
  • Vic Gatto as himself – Harvard Halfback (Team Captain)
  • Kyle Gee as himself – Yale Tackle
  • J.P. Goldsmith as himself – Yale Safety
  • Calvin Hill as himself – Yale Halfback (archive footage)
  • Ray Hornblower as himself – Harvard Halfback
  • Ron Kell as himself – Yale Defensive Back
  • Mick Kleber as himself – Yale Guard
  • Bob Levin as himself – Yale Fullback
  • Ted Livingston as himself – Yale Tackle
  • Fred Morris as himself – Yale Center
  • Ted Skowronski as himself – Harvard Center
  • Bruce Weinstein as himself – Yale End
  • Mike Bouscaren as himself – Yale Linebacker
  • Robert Dowd as himself – Harvard Tackle
  • Fritz Reed as himself – Harvard Tackle
  • Pat Conway as himself – Harvard Cornerback
  • Pete Varney as himself – Harvard Tight End
  • Nick Davidson as himself – Yale Halfback
  • Jim Gallagher as himself – Yale Defensive End
  • Fran Gallagher as himself – Yale Defensive End
  • John Ignacio as himself – Harvard Cornerback
  • Del Marting as himself – Yale End
  • Bruce Weinstein as himself – Yale Tight End
  • Dick Williams as himself – Yale Middle Guard
  • Jim Reynolds as himself – Harvard Halfback
  • Pete Hall as himself – Harvard Defensive End
  • Tom Peacock as himself – Yale Tackle
  • Joe McKinney as himself – Harvard Defensive End
  • Rick Berne as himself – Harvard Defensive Tackle
  • Alex MacLean as himself – Harvard Middle Guard
  • Dale Neal as himself – Harvard Linebacker
  • Gary Farneti as himself – Harvard Linebacker
  • Rich Mattas as himself – Yale Tackle
  • Scott Robinson as himself – Yale Defensive End
  • Tom Wynne as himself – Harvard Safety
  • Neil Hurley as himself – Harvard Cornerback
  • Mike Ananis as himself – Harvard Cornerback
  • John Cramer as himself – Harvard Defensive End
  • John Waldman as himself – Yale Cornerback
  • Bill Kelly as himself – Harvard Quarterback
  • Ken Thomas as himself – Harvard Safety
  • Brad Lee as himself – Yale


The documentary received numerous positive reviews: Steven Rea of Philadelphia Inquirer wrote "Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 is a comeback story, a classic underdog yarn. But this winning doc also offers serious reflection on how events from our past continue to loom large in our lives - as regrets still counted, as lessons learned, as triumphs that awe and amaze."[12] J. Hoberman of Village Voice wrote "This may or may not be the greatest instance of college football ever played, but 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."[11] Michael Sragow of the Baltimore Sun called the film "Kevin Rafferty's magnum opus".[13] Mark Feeney of Boston Globe called the film "terrifically entertaining".[2] Manhola Dargis of the New York Times found the film to be "preposterously entertaining".[14] Tom Keogh of Seattle Times called it "a delightful documentary".[15] In greater depth, Bob Hoover of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote "Despite his annoying style of lingering a bit too long on his subjects, Rafferty, mainly a TV documentary maker, pries fascinating stories and insights from the now aging players,"[16] and Kenneth Turan of Los Angeles Times wrote "A look at the legendary Nov. 23, 1968, game, "Harvard Beats Yale" is both an irresistible human story and as fine a documentary on football as "Hoop Dreams" was on basketball", calling the film "a memorable winner". He further notes that the passage of 40 years allowed a unique perspective as the players spoke about "what was not only the game of their careers but possibly the experience of their lives", and made note of how time led to other celebrity for some of the players, with Tommy Lee Jones becoming an Oscar-winning actor, Brian Dowling becoming the character "B.D." in the Doonesbury comic strip (Garry Trudeau attended Yale), and player Bob Levin remembering dating a Vassar undergraduate named Meryl Streep."[4]

Underscoring that the film had appeal to more than just sports fans, Bruce Eder of All Movie Guide began his review with "it is only fair of this writer to point out that he cares not one whit about, and has not a scintilla of interest in football. Having said that, we can also say, without equivocation, that Kevin Rafferty's Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 is a dazzling, engrossing, must-see piece of film all Except that it's also about a lot more."[17]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 American Heritage Magazine, ed. (2001). Overrated/underrated: 100 experts topple the icons and champion the slighted (illustrated ed.). Black Dog Publishing. p. 164. ISBN 9781579121631. Retrieved August 22, 2009.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Feeney, Mark (July 26, 2009). "Fit to be tied at Harvard Stadium". Boston Globe. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Feeney, Mark (November 18, 2008). "Forty years ago, it wasn't only a game". Boston Globe. Retrieved August 22, 2009.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Turan, Kenneth (March 6, 2009). "review: 'Harvard Beats Yale 29-29'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Whiting, Sam (March 6, 2009). "A toss back in time: 'Harvard Beats Yale 29-29'". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
  6. Jorgenson, Todd (April 11, 2009). "Harvard-Yale Rivalry Inspires Film". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved August 22, 2009.
  7. "Harvard Beats Yale 29-29".
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Bob Boyles, Paul Guido (2007). 50 Years of College Football: A Modern History of America's Most Colorful Sport. Skyhorse Publishing Inc.. p. 232. ISBN 9781602390904.
  9. Dargis, Manohla. "Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 (2008)". New York Times. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
  10. McGrath, Charles. "Harvard Beats Yale 29–29". Yale Alumni Magazine. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Hoberman, J. (November 8, 2008). "Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 Wraps Up the Boomer Era". Village Voice. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
  12. Rea, Steven (February 20, 2009). "Thrilling football documentary with a serious side". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
  13. Sragow, Michael (January 30, 2009). "'Harvard Beats Yale 29-29' is Kevin Rafferty's magnum opus". Baltimore Sun.;jsessionid=C3101409A080C5EA7122.3443?view=arts_life_item&feed:a=balt_sun_10min&feed:c=entertainment&feed:i=44782964&nopaging=0. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
  14. Dargis, Manhola (November 19, 2008). "Back in 1968, When a Tie Was No Tie". New York Times. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
  15. Keogh, Tom (March 19, 2009). "Yale-Harvard football documentary scores a touchdown". Seattle Times. Retrieved August 23, 2009.
  16. Hoover, Bob (April 16, 2009). "review: 'Harvard Beats Yale, 29-29'". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved August 23, 2009.
  17. Eder, Bruce. "review; Harvard Beats Yale 29-29". All Movie Guide. Retrieved August 21, 2009.

External links