Having seen a fair amount of Ivy League football during the ‘70s and ‘80s, let me state without reservation that it’s nowhere as exciting or competitive as what’s played in many other college conferences, especially the SEC.
But none of that changes the fact that Kevin Rafferty’s documentary Harvard Beats Yale, which opens Friday at The Belcourt Theatre, is among the greatest sports movies ever made.
Part of that is due to the nature of this particular game and its unbelievable outcome. Back in 1968, ties were still part of football at all levels. That season both Harvard and Yale were undefeated for the first time since 1909, making their climatic battle at the end of the year a fight for both the Ivy League crown and bragging rights.
It also helped that there were some pro caliber players on both teams, most notably Yale quarterback Brian Dowling and Yale running back Calvin Hill. And, playing in the game were future Oscar-winning actor Tommy Lee Jones (also Al Gore’s roommate) and a Yale tackle who’d been George Bush’s roommate for three years.