Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Burt Pugach, Linda Pugach, Bob Janoff, Sylvia Hoffman, Rita Kessler
Directors: Dan Klores, Fisher Stevens
Genres: Indie & Art House, Documentary
The astonishing & unbelievable story of the obsessive roller-coaster relationship of burt & linda pugach. Their whirlwind romance culminated in a violent & psychologically complex set of actions which landed the pairs saga... more »
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A Celebrated, Powerful, Unique New York Story
Stephanie DePue | Carolina Beach, NC USA | 08/25/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It was 1959, and Burt Pugach, a funny-looking guy, but an extremely rich and successful New York lawyer by the standards of the day, spotted a beautiful girl, Linda Riss, on a street in the New York borough of the Bronx. He immediately jumped out of his car, introduced himself to her, and started courting her, with his classy car, his airplane, his nightclubs, and his nascent filmmaking career-- he'd just finished making a film, in London, starring now nearly forgotten, but very much pretty-boy-of-the-day Keith Brasselle. Unfortunately, however, Pugach was married. The attorney quickly became obsessed with Linda, and tried every twist and turn, every lie he could think of, to keep her. But Linda, an ordinary girl in every way, aside from her looks, had been raised in a household of women, where men were not necessarily trusted, and she was able to track his every twist. No divorce, no Linda was her position, and she took her leave, became engaged to somebody else.
Pugach's obsessional love went far beyond the ordinary, and he was determined that if he couldn't have Linda, nobody would. So he hired a coupla thugs to throw lye in her face. She was disfigured, and blinded. Pugach's trial was a media circus, covered extensively by Jimmy Breslin, among the city's famous journalists. Pugach was found guilty, disbarred, and sent to jail, where he became a winning jailhouse lawyer, freeing several men. He was in New York State's most feared upstate prison, Attica, when riots broke out there, taking several lives. Upon his release, he regained his lawyer's license, and was, remarkably enough, married to Linda. He was to lose his lawyer's license yet again by threatening another beautiful young woman, an employee, with "what Linda got." Linda stuck by him; today he has a successful paralegal business (the man's evidently an inspired lawyer) in the New York borough of Queens.
It's a unique New York story, and it's doubtful anything like it has ever happened anywhere else. It was celebrated in its time, the media made a feast of it, and, in its general themes, remarkably powerful. All the important characters are still alive, and were willing to talk freely to Fisher Stevens, who made this film: he deserves the greatest praise for that. We see archival stills, and film, but it's the current day Linda and Burt who are the stars of their own show.
And if you don't believe Linda could have married Burt after what he did to her, think about it some more. Women's lives haven't changed that much in the intervening nearly half-a-century since Burt and Linda first met, and "Crazy Love" lays it all out for you.
Truth IS stranger than fiction!
Allen Chapman | STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT USA | 10/19/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first heard of this documentary this past summer. The premise seemed very odd, jealous guy (Burt Pugach) hires guys to throw acid in the face of ex-girlfriend (Linda Riss) and after he gets out of prison, she marries him. What's more interesting is the story unfolds in the seemingly innocent 1950's. Thru interviews with Burt, Linda and friends of the couple, the story is told. After watching the movie, you understand how Linda got to a point in her life after the incident where she felt she would spend the rest of her life alone. Burt was there and loved her, something seemingly no other man was able to do after the incident. It's ultimately a tragic love story about a man who is a borderline madman and a woman who didn't want to be alone in her dark and lonely world."
You can't keep a bad man down
J. Kel | 11/22/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I first encountered the story of Burt and Linda Pugach, some many years ago, in the paper back edition of Burt's biography, what I read on the cover I simply could not believe. At first I thought it was a novel, some kind of elaborate publishing hoax with a rather sick premise, but gradually I came to realize this was for real. I didn't buy the book, I confess. I treated it like it was radioactive and after a few minutes I put gingerly in back on the rack thinking: no good can come from this. But, I never forgot the essence of the story. What did it say about them, us, everyone? So when the documentary was finally made I jumped at the chance to see it.
[I should mention at this point that Burt and Linda have been what is termed a "staple" of the tabloids, at one point reaching all the way, if that is the correct way to put it, to People magazine. I don't read such stuff, however, so I did not know their story continued and in the scheme of things has probably turned out as well as one could hope.]
The DVD is probably the way to go with this story, not watching it in theaters. It is just too intimate, in all the senses of the word, a tale. Watch it all, cut scenes, features etc. Most of all, make sure you listen to the commentary track. At the end, you will then be able decide for yourself. Personally, I think the documentary did their story as fairly and as in depth as could be done. It really is an outstanding achievement. It frustrates some people however because it must seem the truth is missing: this story is so off the scale, so far beyond "Freudian," that while it is tempting to make psychological assessments, don't. The overwhelming majority of people are not competent to do so -- I'm certainly not -- and one would advise against it in any event. Here are two people who themselves probably, even after fifty years of living with the story, have no idea what really happened. But they are living whatever it was, and that is all they or we need to know.
As for Burt, he remains one scary dude, as the director himself would find out first hand, yet one cannot help but respect him, in a way. He is a survivor with a strong element of luck in his life, if that is correct way to put it. He certainly suffered, both before and after his crime, but whether he suffered enough I leave to others to judge. He's smart, resourceful, and in a word indeed "obsessed." "Determined" doesn't quite seem to say it about Burt. For someone who is pushing 80, he comes across as sharp and tough as ever. Given all that he has been through and all that he has done, this is no small accomplishment.
I should point out that Burt does at times appear callous and indifferent to Linda's blindness (a point the director himself makes in the commentary), but I can't help but wonder if he simply does not see Linda as she is now, but only sees her as she was in the late 1950's. The documentary seems to come to that conclusion as well. Love is blind, in more ways than one. Certainly forgiveness is, if it is to be worthy of the name.
As for Linda, she seemed to have been saving herself for the right monster and one day Mr. Wrong did come along. I have to confess I like her. She is obviously quite talented, intelligent, witty and every bit Burt's match in toughness. But as with Burt, I'm relieved I never had to interact with either of them. I care for them both, however, and certainly one of the most amazing things about "Crazy Love" is the degree we come to view both of them as human beings. This is not a freak show. There is so much suffering in the world if these two people can hold on to some measure of happiness given their history, then more power to them. I think as a viewer, you can't help but hope the best for them and at the end of the film wonder what will happen to the other when either of them dies."
Will Leave You Shaking Your Head In Disbelief!
Craig Connell | Lockport, NY USA | 11/12/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This may be the most amazing true-life documentary I've ever seen. If it wasn't all true, I'd never believe it. Who would? This is an insane "love story," and it really happened. Ask the citizens of New York City who lived through this tabloid story.
I hesitate to say too much for those who haven't watched this, but I highly recommend this DVD. The filmmakers did an outstanding job in presenting all the major figures in this fascinating tale of twisted lovers....and "twisted" is putting it mildly, especially in regard to the chief male: Burt Pugach, who is one of the most despicable no-conscience people I've ever seen.
If crazy people, obsession, romance, crime, loneliness, comedy, etc., are all something you find entertaining, this documentary has all of it. It might also disgust you that human beings can be so pathetic.
I couldn't stop shaking my head in disbelief after this watching this documentary. Kudos to everyone involved in this film for a job very well done."