February 12, 2007 12:00 PM


In 1959, New York lawyer Burt Pugach hired three thugs to blind his then 21-year-old ex-girlfriend Linda Riss with lye. After 14 years in jail, Pugach asked Riss to marry him; she accepted. The documentary Crazy Love, which had audiences buzzing at last month’s Sundance Film Festival, chronicles the couple’s roller coaster 50-year relationship. “She’s a dame and he’s a character,” says publicist-turned-filmmaker Dan Klores, who was drawn to the “black humor” of their story and spent more than two years interviewing the Pugachs and their friends and family. (Actor Fisher Stevens coproduced and codirected.) Despite their rocky past (and present—in 1997, Burt was sentenced to counseling for harassing a woman with whom he had an affair), the Pugachs are still together. “[Marriage] is the best and the worst,” says Burt, 79. Adds Linda, 69: “We’ve been an item for nearly 50 years—that’s a long time between drinks. But after 30-some years of marriage, I must think it’s pretty okay.”

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