We stumbled onto a fine documentary film last night while searching for something to watch on the tube.
It’s the story of the November 23, 1968 match-up between the two undefeated Ivy League football teams, told through the game film and interviews with dozens of players, including actor Tommy Lee Jones, who was a Harvard lineman. It’s also the story of the tumultuous years of the late 1960s. The two themes are woven together to produce a dramatic and engrossing film.
With Vietnam raging, Nixon in the White House, and issues from civil rights to women’s lib dividing the country, Harvard and Yale, both teams undefeated for the first time since 1909, meet for the annual climax of the Ivy League football season. On the blue-blooded Yale campus, gridiron fever has made local celebrities out of a Yale team led by quarterback Brian Dowling, who hadn’t lost a game that he finished since the 7th grade, and who was the role model for Doonesbury’s “B.D.” At civil unrest scarred Harvard, a melting pot team of working class players, antiwar activists, and a decorated Vietnam vet set aside their differences for the Big Game. Together, Yale and Harvard stage an unforgettable football contest that baffled even their own coaches.
It’s available on Netflix, and I see it’s also available for free viewing on Hulu (see below), although you’ll have to put up with a few ads. Highly recommended.