Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 (2008)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Kevin Rafferty's documentary Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 looks at this historic 1968 matchup between those two longtime college football rivals. Many recall that year's edition of this annual grudge match as it was the first time in almost six decades that both schools were undefeated going into the game. The filmmakers utilize archival footage, and intercut it with new interview footage provided by many of those who played a part in that memorable game. ~ Perry Seibert, Rovi

Rating: PG
Genre: Documentary, Sports & Fitness
Directed By:
In Theaters:
On DVD: Aug 4, 2009
Emerging Pictures

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Critic Reviews for Harvard Beats Yale 29-29

All Critics (38) | Top Critics (19)

The best part of this film is the affection with which both sides recall the contest -- not as a loss or a win, but as a commitment to their teammates and respect for the game.

Full Review… | June 11, 2009
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

Rafferty uses interviews with the former players, most now in their 60s and nearly all of them touchingly philosophical, to reveal the cultural issues buffeting their campuses, but not necessarily their locker rooms.

Full Review… | April 10, 2009
Denver Post
Top Critic

Harvard Beats Yale 29-29, a mosaic of storytelling told by former college-level gridiron athletes, pieces together the remarkable story of a fateful 1968 match between the titular Ivy League teams.

Full Review… | March 19, 2009
Seattle Times
Top Critic

What makes the movie so effective is that Rafferty uses game footage instead of interspersing the movie with cliched scenes of Vietnam protests, campus mayhem, etc. The effective use of this footage builds suspense, even though we know the result.

Full Review… | March 13, 2009
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

The aura of shock-and-awe surrounding this game is laid on a bit thick, and sometimes you feel like you're just watching an ESPN special. Still, it's fun.

Full Review… | March 9, 2009
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic

Simply by letting the onetime gridiron stars talk about the game they played and the era it was played in, the capsule cracks open and you're sucked inside and you cannot believe, even if you know the details, how that game turned out the way it did.

Full Review… | February 20, 2009
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Harvard Beats Yale 29-29


Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 is weirdly entertaining. It somehow pulls off something that I didn't believe it could. It's actually suspenseful hearing how this game played out, which is ridiculous since the final score is already known. Also there are no gimmicks here. It's game footage and interviews with dull Yale and Harvard graduates. There's no slick filmmaking involved and the documentary is better for it. The director just let the players tell the story and it's entertaining to listen to. We can hear the pain in some of the Yale players voices when they talk about mistakes that they made that effected the outcome of the game. We see the joy in the Harvard players as they recall the comeback. This game has stuck with them and they remember every detail and now we get to learn about the details.

Melvin White

Super Reviewer


"Harvard Beats Yale 29-29" is an entertaining [font=Comic Sans MS]documentary[/font] about the Harvard-Yale football game played on November 23, 1968. While at the time both teams were undefeated, Yale was a powerhouse, ranked #16 in the country behind the offense led by Brian Dowling and Calvin Hill. Brian Dowling was the inspiration for the character B.D. in "Doonesbury." While most of the players involved are interviewed for the film(Calvin Hill is a notable exception), it still would have been nice to have heard from Garry Trudeau to get his viewpoint. What these interviews show is a diverse group of players from many different backgrounds and parts of the country. These recollections serve as the heart of the movie as they are compared to the game film and it is very interesting to see how a player's team might affect his particular viewpoint.(That having been said, one Yale player is very, very honest.) And since this is 1968 that is being discussed, this could also serve as a microcosm of a society that was divided for and against the Vietnam War. However, the players in the film all were united in their opposition, even with some having served there. What the documentary is lacking is putting this game into the context of Ivy League football history. For example, I remember reading a New York Times article a while back on how Ivy League football now does not matter anywhere near as much it once did when the campuses of Harvard and Yale were all male. In 1968 there were still ties in college football, allowing both teams to celebrate a game well played.

Note: My normal computer is not currently working, so there may be technical difficulties for the near future.

Walter M.

Super Reviewer


While not the most incisive doc ever, this is enormously entertaining stuff. Following the game from top to bottom with constant intercutting of interviews with the players 40 years later is the most fascinating color play by play ever!

Jeff Talbott
Jeff Talbott

Super Reviewer

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