When you first hear the title you might think it refers to a slapstick frat house comedy rather than a wise-ass headline in an Ivy League daily: the Crimson back in November 1968. When is a tie as good as a win? When both squads are undefeated, but Yale has glamour boy quarterback Brian Dowling (number 10) and future NFL star running back Calvin Hill and is heavily favored. Yale led 29-6 deep into the fourth quarter. The Yale fans were singing the Mickey Mouse Club anthem ("forever let us hold our banner high!") when the gritty Harvard eleven mounted their improbable comeback and tied their rivals in the last play of the game.
Kevin Rafferty's documentary, Harvard Beats Yale 29-29, which SDH and I saw on November 23 (exactly forty years to the day after the game), is terrific even if you wear blue and sing the Yale "bulldog" fight song, which Cole Porter wrote.
If the game's hero is Harvard's backup quarterback, the goat turns out to be -- conveniently enough -- President George W. Bush's college roommate, a Yale linebacker whose boneheaded play resulted in costly penalties. Al Gore, Bush's rival in 2000, is also represented by roommate surrogate -- in his
case the actor Tommy Lee Jones, bewhiskered and pausing lengthily between replies, as if something profound is on the tip of his tongue though destined to remain unsaid. According to Jones, his erstwhile Harvard roommate had a fine sense of humor. Can he give an example? Sure. Al could play Dixie on the tones of his touch-tone telephone.
For this viewer the highlight was the brief interview with Yale defender Bradford Lee, a friend when both of us were doing graduate studies at Clare College, Cambridge. We lived in the same dorm. A brilliant student, he went on to teach at Harvard and (I think) at the Naval War College in Rhode Island. I haven't seem him since England. The amazing thing is that in the movie he looks about 38 years older than when we met in 1970. I can't get over it.