In the summer of 1952, Burt Pugach, a 32 year old married attorney (mostly an 'ambulance chaser') saw beautiful 20 year old Linda Riss sitting on a bench and fell madly in love at first sight. He pursued her with great determination, and spent money on taking her out, having a good time - but she never slept with him. And when Linda learnt that Burt was married, she wanted to end it. Burt said he'd get a divorce and showed her false papers - which she had checked out. She left him and met Larry Schwartz to whom she later got engaged, even though Burt hadn't ever let up chasing her. Incensed, Burt hired a couple of men to commit an act of violence that set off a complex set of events and psychological battles that ended up on the front pages of the papers and on TV shows. Burt and Linda - now 79 and 68 - talk openly about their lives and the crazy love that enveloped them.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
A solid diamond of a human interest story, the tale of Burt Pugach and his love for Linda is engrossing, jaw-dropping and irresistible. I don't want to pre-empt the most crucial elements of the film because it is in their discovery that audiences get the biggest rewards from this work. But I will say that both Burt and Linda reflect on their extraordinary story with candour and openness, and their friends and acquaintances provide layers of additional insight, so that after 90 minutes, we are satisfied that we know as much as possible about the story.
What we - nor anyone else - will ever really understand, is the inner workings of these two people. Linda wears her dark sunglasses with jewelled wings, throughout the main interview; she smoke long, thin cigarettes incessantly. Her eyebrows jump as she speaks, a sort of silent punctuation to her words. Her superbly coiffed wig tops off a well groomed figure who still has a glamorous presence. Burt is overweight now, but his brown suit is neat, his tie matches his shirt and he is believable - yet intriguing.
The story has all the elements of a juicy melodrama: obsessive love, jealousy, greed, insanity, hope, guilt and forgiveness, redemption and even a kind of gentle revenge. But these elements are all uncovered and revealed by the protagonists themselves - nothing is manufactured by the filmmaker, and he certainly doesn't need to dress it up. It's as dressed up as it gets.
Acclaimed filmmaker Dan Klores has carefully researched his subject, collated all the necessary images, documents and interviews, and assembled a truly memorable memoir of a unique story that is worth telling - and worth seeing and hearing.
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INTERVIEW - with Burt Pugach and Linda Pugach
CRAZY LOVE (M)
CAST: Documentary featuring Burt Pugach, Linda Pugach (nee Riss)
PRODUCER: Dan Klores, Fisher Stevens
DIRECTOR: Dan Klores
SCRIPT: Dan Klores
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Wolfgang Held
EDITOR: David Zieff
MUSIC: Douglas J. Cuomo
RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Palace
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 22, 2007