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Linda Riss And Burt Pugach

February 16, 2012 by staff 

Linda Riss And Burt Pugach, 2009 Here are Burt Pugach and Linda Riss back in the day. They look a little uptight, but nobody’s crazy or disfigured, right? Yet.

Stop reading here if you don’t want the spoilers. I am about to spoil the sht out of this movie for you. I kind of wish someone had done this for me, because the movie leaves you feeling creepy, like you sat on a newborn puppy. I digress.

I watched Crazy Love last night because I love documentaries, I love watching/reading/hearing about people who are totally nutballs, and I have had some strange experiences in my life with disfunctional relationships of the “should I change my number” variety (that’s all your getting from me on that topic unless you bring the booze and seal your mouth forever afterwards). Crazy Love is the story of Burt Pugach and Linda Riss (later Linda Pugach. Think about this as you read what follows), a couple who met, courted, broke up, and then got married. Or else it’s a story about the couple you never, ever want to have over for dinner. To wit:

Burt Pugach (a last name that is somehow onomatopeian) was a “nefarious” lawyer who chews his cud endlessly on how mean his mother was to him growing up, which I think was somehow meant to explain how he would later relate to his first and second wives. Whatever, Burt. He got super-rich, which is colored by his biographer’s references to his cars (a Lincoln and something else, high-rollerz!) and the fact that he owned a night club; in 1951 he met and married a friendly-looking lady and they had a daughter who was severely handicapped. Eight years into his marriage, he met Linda Riss, who looks like my mental picture of the girl in “Rosalita” by Bruce Springsteen. He lied about being married and having a kid, and even though he had a Lincoln and some other car, Linda did the right thing and broke it off with him when she found out.

Linda then met a hunk of a dude named Larry. He was going into the army. Linda was madly in love with him despite his carless/single-car status. Throughout Linda and Larry’s courtship, Burt Pugach was busy stalking and scaring the crap out of Linda. It was that whole “If I can’t have you, no one will,” thing; understandably, she called the cops, who stationed a guard at her house for a brief period and then slacked off, despite Linda’s continuing complaints. She got engaged to Larry, which threw Burt into a rage: he hired three dudes to throw poison in her face.

Linda was left sighless in one eye, with scars that compelled her to wear sunglasses at all times, and bald. At one point Burt got a gun and waited in an alley to shoot Larry, but said he couldn’t do it. After some back-and-forths, Larry broke off their engagement. The documentary insinuates this was more because of the eye thing than the crazy-stalker-ex thing, but who knows. Burt Pugach went to jail for 14 years, where he wrote to Linda every day (it was mostly just crazy blather, judging from the letter-shots in the documentary).

Okay, so far, so good. Linda comes off as kind of superficial and maybe a little cold, but she’s clearly the good guy. Burt is a malicious worm and you just want him to stay in jail. But jail is not where he stays! Because!!! When he was released, Linda GOT BACK TOGETHER WITH HIM. And they GOT MARRIED. The guy who threw lye in her face! Linda, we have to talk. You may have one eye but there are people out there with 1-2 cars who have souls and won’t try to kill you because you won’t date them. Linda. Come the f**k on, Linda.

Later, Burt had an affair while married to Linda, and the woman with whom he was romping accused him of threatening her. Guess who took the stand in his defense? LINDA.

The tail end of the documentary shows Linda in a piss-poor mood, one you get the impression is constant. She alludes to the fact that she married Burt to punish him with her rotten temperament until they die. You know, to me, cranky doesn’t seem to be the best punishment for getting permanently disfigured. Crabby isn’t punishment. Crankiness and snarking and btching, in fact, have been the basis for loving relationships on Everybody Loves Raymond for many seasons. They are cranky and btchy at each other to show that they are family. You simply can’t be cantankerous enough to punish someone who tried to kill you.

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