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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Sports > Football > History > The Pittsburgh Steelers: Behind The Steel Curtain (2012/NFL Dynasty Series/Gaiam Vivendi DVD)

The Pittsburgh Steelers: Behind The Steel Curtain (2012/NFL Dynasty Series/Gaiam Vivendi DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: B-     Main Program: B



Professional football is as popular as ever, but alike all other sports, there has to be exceptional successes that put a sport on the map and more that make it grow.  In the case of the NFL, Art Rooney’s Steelers franchise in Pittsburgh was a mess for a long time, but he tried a new strategy, hired Chuck Noll as a new coach and rebuilt the team from the ground up.  In the course of all this, the team eventually found itself ahead of all the others, more innovative, bold, daring, stronger and ahead of its time.  The Pittsburgh Steelers: Behind The Steel Curtain runs 100 minutes and is a remarkable look at how all this happened.


Eventually, the team set new standards for success in the NFL, inspired more of its players to this day to want to copy their success, won the most Super Bowls, then recaptured that record recently and created more stars and Hall Of Famers in the 1970s than just about any team in league history.  As a result, the “black & gold” continue to set the gold standard for success in the league and in the sport worldwide, are the ones to compete with and beat, even in down years.


This program is mostly about the 1970s, but also spends time looking at the men who made it all happen in detail, new interviews, vintage interviews and great archive footage that show NFL Films at their best.  It also captures a Pittsburgh at its peak that once was, a real steel town, even though it was in decline in the 1970s with jobs being slowly cut off, at least there were still jobs versus the dismantling that started in the 1980s and ended that industry, along with that city’s sense of progress, community and potential.  Now, it’s a medical and school town stuck with older problems, but still the Steelers remain as a championship team with new Super Bowl victories representing the real city and a team (plus a family like the Rooneys) who never sold the city out, even when others did.


As for the success of the team, the Rooneys continue to only want players who are there to seriously play.  No ego trips, no double-talk, and their new co-owners have subscribed to their approach to success, including not tolerating drug use or celebration form their players or potential players.  They would rather pass on a potential talent they see as damaged or in trouble than sign such a talent and have it cost the team success and progress.  Too bad more sports franchises do not have such integrity.


But that is among the reasons why they are the best.  They don’t see business or their franchise as a joke or their audience as a joke.  They are good-natured people and have done great things for their city while conducting business in a solid way, but this is ultimately about heart and soul, from the team, the owners and the better side of the city they represent.  That makes this program as much about the real idea of The American Dream and sports as you are likely to see for a while.  Don’t miss it.



The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image looks good throughout, pretty much all from an HD master source (though there are some soft edges here and there) and the plentiful older 16mm footage has been cropped to fit the frame, but it looks fine here (there is always some space on 1.33 X 1 TV footage for headroom, especially due to the oval shape of older picture tubes of the past, but this will still bother some purists), though the extra 16mm-originated vintage NFL films from 1972 and 1974 are in their original 1.33 X 1 aspect ratio.  In all cases, color is good and consistent throughout, proving the NFL’s efforts to have a great film franchise that they keep after continues to pay off.


The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has a good bit of monophonic sound form the archive footage, but it is clean and clear, partly because it is likely from a magnetic sound source.  The combination of sound and image exceed the usual quality of documentaries of its kind, mixing old and new footage.


Extras include the 1972 AFC Championship Game with the famed Immaculate Reception and 1974 Championship Game, both in great prints running about 25 minutes each.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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