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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Dan Klores, Fisher Stevens
Cast:
Jimmy Breslin, Burt Pugach, Linda Pugach
Writing Credits:
Dan Klores

Tagline:
He had to have her.

Synopsis:
Crazy Love tells the astonishing and unbelievable true story of the obsessive roller-coaster relationship of Burt and Linda Pugach. Their whirlwind romance, culminated in a violent and psychologically complex set of actions which landed the pair's saga on the cover of endless newspapers and magazines.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$17.952 thousand on 3 screens.
Domestic Gross
$300.372 thousand.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.78:1/16X9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Surround 2.0
Subtitles:
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 92 min.
Price: $26.98
Release Date: 10/16/07

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Dan Klores and Subjects Burt and Linda Pugach
• Deleted Interviews
• Burt’s Prison Letters to Linda
• Linda’s Art Gallery


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Crazy Love (2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 26, 2007)

All of us do some irrational things in the name of love, but some folks go just a wee bit farther than others. Into that category we find Burt and Linda Pugach, the subjects of a documentary called Crazy Love.

Let’s look at the Pugaches, a married couple from New York City who met back in 1957. We follow their romance and its apparent conclusion when Linda dumps him. It turns out that Burt was married the whole time he dated Linda and his wife refused to give him a divorce. With no prospect of marriage, Linda gives Burt the boot.

And that’s where things get dark. The loss of Linda leaves Burt loopy. Burt stalks Linda, though without success, and this drives him to violent methods, especially after Linda gets engaged to another man. In full “if I can’t have her, nobody will” revenge mode, Burt hires thugs to throw lye in Linda’s face. The attack essentially blinds her, and after a wacky trial, Burt goes to prison.

And that’s where things get weird(er). Linda’s fiancé ends things with her but she moves on and has a lot of fun, though as “damaged goods”, she finds it tough to get a man to stay with her. Burt just won’t vanish from her life. Around 1971, he sends her love letters from prison and eventually weasels his way back into her life.

Initially Linda resists Burt’s approaches, but against all odds – and with the perverse encouragement of her friends – they get back together and marry. The rest of the film follows that relationship over the last few decades – and various complications, some of which come when Burt’s history appears to repeat itself.

Love tells its tale via archival materials such as photos and home movies. We also get newly shot interviews. We hear from Burt and Linda Pugach, Burt’s friend Bob Janoff, Linda’s cousin Sylvia Hoffman, Linda’s friends Joyce Guerriero, Rusty Goldberg and Rita Kessler, biographer Berry Stainback, Burt’s secretary Janet Pomerantz, journalist Jimmy Breslin, police officer Margaret Powers, psychiatrist Dr. Norman Ackerman, defense attorney Marvyn Kornberg, TV reporter Marvin Scott, Queens County DA Richard Brown, and New York Post reporter Andrea Peyser.

If you’re a woman who thinks your boyfriend or husband is a jerk, you should give Love a look and maybe you’ll change your mind. As bad as your boy may be, few men can be as horrible as Burt Pugach, one of the sleaziest, most terrible men to ever wed.

As you watch Love, you’ll find it tough to decide who’s more messed up, Burt or Linda. Oh, Burt’s clearly the psychotic one; when Breslin tells us that he’s the most “visibly insane” person he’s encountered in his 50-plus years of work, I believe him. Lying, cheating, and overtly shady, Burt exhibits the charm that allows him to get away with his sleaziness, but we can still easily see that he’s bad news.

The movie allows us to see Burt’s mental instability in less obvious ways as well. In a remarkable act of self-denial, he views himself as the victim much of the time. Burt clearly doesn’t accept all of his transgressions and he blames others for all his woes. He’s a real piece of work.

All of which makes it so remarkable not only that Linda tolerates Burt but also that she often defends him. She exhibits virtually no actual love for the man, as it seems apparent that she married him and stays with him solely for his caretaking. It’s pretty obvious that she married him for security and that sure appears to be the only reason she stays with him.

That makes Linda seem like a sad character, as no one should have to endure what Burt has done to her. However, her personality makes me think they deserve each other. Linda cracks that she got her revenge on Burt by marrying him, but this is only half a joke, as it really seems to be true. Given all of their various foibles, I think Burt and Linda probably deserve each other. God knows no one else could stand either one of them.

Love tells the tale of the Pugaches in a fine manner. At the start, it seems a little spotty, as it connects Burt and Linda before it flashes back to their childhood experiences. It might make more sense to just begin at the beginning before it hitches the two together.

However, this is a minor complaint, and the narrative progresses well after that point. Indeed, it provides a delightfully matter of fact presentation. We get a good straightforward framework that doesn’t sensationalize matters and presents them in a concise manner. The film lets the participants set up their own foibles without much manipulation. (Not that these two nutbags need help to sound crazy, of course.)

I find it interesting the way the movie dollops out details. We go through the Burt and Linda romance before we find out Burt was already married. This could’ve just been a strange love story, but it becomes more perverse when we learn of Burt’s additional bad behavior over the years. Just when you think Burt can’t surprise us with his psychoses, the movie unearths another sin.

Despite all of his obvious flaws, Love doesn’t make easy judgments. No, it certainly doesn’t embrace the Pugaches and try to make them sympathetic; I don’t think that’d be possible even if Disney made their story into an animated musical. But Love doesn’t take the obvious path and condemn them either. It develops into a rich, fascinating tale.


The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio C+/ Bonus B

Crazy Love appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though it displayed some issues, given the film’s genre and budget, it offered a pretty solid picture.

I didn’t factor the archival material not shot explicitly for Love into my grade. Those elements demonstrated flaws, but it didn’t seem fair to criticize the DVD for problems with that kind of stuff. As for the new shots, they presented good sharpness. The interview elements consistently looked crisp and detailed, and they betrayed few signs of softness. For some reason, most of the footage with Joyce Guerriero appeared fuzzier than the rest of the film, but those were the only notably problematic shots. No problems with jagged edges or shimmering materialized, but light edge enhancement cropped up at times. As for source flaws, the flick stayed clean and without concerns other than a little digital artifacting.

Not surprisingly, the DVD’s palette tended toward natural tones. The movie’s hues came across with reasonable clarity and definition. The colors always looked vivid and concise, and I noticed no problems with them at any times. Blacks also seemed deep and firm, while the occasional low-light shots appeared well defined and clean. This was a satisfying presentation.

As one might expect from this sort of movie, Crazy Love presented a pretty modest Dolby Surround 5.1 soundtrack. The soundfield stayed largely monaural. Speech dominated the program and stayed focused in the center speaker. Music appeared virtually constantly, and those elements spread in a positive way to the sides; the rears featured songs to a minor degree as well. Effects played a small role in the proceedings. The surrounds echoed those elements in a minor way and didn’t add much to the mix.

Audio quality was solid. Speech consistently sounded natural and crisp, with no problems related to edginess or intelligibility. Effects seemed accurate, though they were so modest that they never taxed the mix in any way. Music also sounded fine, though the use of period recordings much of the time meant those pieces could be a little thin. The soundfield of Love seemed too limited to merit more than a “C+”, but the audio was more than acceptable for this sort of project.

When we head to the extras, we start with an audio commentary from director Dan Klores and subjects Burt and Linda Pugach. At the start, we get a quick intro from Klores, as he gives us a kind of “mission statement” for the film. From there we launch into a 37-minute and 30-second interview with Burt and Linda. They talk about their involvement in the flick and their reactions to it as well as a few aspects of their lives. Frankly, their chat is pretty much a bore. They don’t tell us much new and/or interesting in this forgettable interview.

After that, the rest of the commentary gives us notes from Klores. He talks about what led him to the project, some nuts and bolts about creating it, getting a distributor and reactions to it. In a more intriguing vein, Klores talks a lot about the interview participants. He offers his own opinions about the various personalities and also throws out stories about his interactions with them.

Klores proves almost shockingly blunt, as he clearly doesn’t sugarcoat his opinions of the various folks. He compares Dr. Ackerman to Hannibal Lecter and tells us that many of her friends think Linda’s still a virgin! He also tells us about the time Burt threatened him and provides a very frank appraisal of the different folks. Klores offers a fascinating chat. I wish the DVD had omitted the pedestrian comments from Burt and Linda and just given us 90 minutes of Klores.

A collection of Deleted Interviews fills a total of 43 minutes and two seconds. These include comments from 12 participants: Burt and Linda (16 segments, 29:04), Dr. Norman Ackerman (1, 3:37), Burt’s nephew Barney Pugach (1, 0:12), Richard Brown (1, 1:18), Marvin Scott (1, 1:12), Sylvia Hoffman (1, 1:44), Joyce Guerriero (1, 1:19), Rita Kessler (1, 0:38), Janet Pomerantz (1, 0:35), Margaret Powers (1, 2:39), and Berry Stainbeck (1, 0:40).

Don’t expect any real lost gold here, but there’s some nice stuff. Some of the elements repeat stories heard elsewhere, such as the tale of how Burt lost his virginity. We get a look at Linda and Burt around their apartment, though, which is interesting, especially when they bicker – which is what they do best – and his jealousy surfaces. Burt still looks like a jerk – maybe even more so – and he’s delusional as he rants about how he plans to make the world “safe for democracy”. On the other hand, Linda comes across as a little nicer and more sympathetic. She definitely earns more of our sympathy, while we dislike Burt even more – if that’s possible. A few decent nuggets pop up elsewhere, and this is a fairly good collection.

Some stillframe materials come next. We get Burt’s Prison Letters (seven letters) and Linda’s Artwork (10 paintings). While Linda’s stuff is interesting, it’s the letters that are clearly the most valuable addition here. Alternately cloying, love-struck, bullying and self-pitying, Burt’s letters offer a clear picture of his insanity. They’re fascinating to read.

A few ads open the disc. We find promos for No End In Sight, Ira & Abby, HDNet and Flawless. No trailer for Love appears here.

You’re unlikely to find many movies with more accurate titles than Crazy Love. One of the freakiest tales of obsession, psychoses and general bad behavior, it shows the extremes to which people can go. The DVD presents decent to good picture and audio along with a nice collection of extras highlighted by an often-fascinating audio commentary. This is a fine little documentary that deserves your attention.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 4
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main