Love Crazy [1941]

Genre: Comedy, Romance
If it were a novel, the story of Burt Pugach and Linda Riss would be rejected as ludicrous: When Pugach discovered that Riss was engaged to marry another man, he hired thugs to throw lye in her face, blinding her. But after almost two decades in prison, Pugach emerged as obsessively in love with Riss as ever and continued to woo her--successfully. This flabbergasting true story is slowly unveiled, thanks to marvelously adroit editing, through interviews with Pugach, Riss, many of their friends, and various media figures like Jimmy Breslin, who followed the twists and turns of this saga as it played out in the courts and the papers. The key to the movie, though, is not the plot so much as the characters: Not only are Pugach and Riss a fascinating psychological study, all of their friends are standout personalities as well, each with their own take on what happened. The big events are bizarre enough, but it's the strange small twists--just how Pugach and Riss were brought back together, for example--that push the story into the realm of tabloid surrealism. (One detail that doesn't give much away: Prior to meeting Riss, Pugach co-produced a movie called Death Over My Shoulder.) Skillful use of historical footage keeps the movie from just being a series of talking heads and provides period texture. Crazy Love is yet more evidence that we are living in a golden era of wildly entertaining and engaging documentaries. --Bret Fetzer

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