DOCUMENTARY; 1hr 32min
DIRECTED BY: Dan Klores & Fisher Stevens
Love story: Linda and Burt Pugach (in the 1970s)
In 1957, when 20-year-old Linda Riss met wolfish 30-year-old Burt Pugach, she thought he was “very weird.” Beware first impressions. And yet … Burt was a lawyer. He owned a nightclub and a plane. Bronx-born Linda couldn’t help but be impressed while Burt was bowled over by her sex-kittenish beauty, never mind that he was married. “This [level of devotion] starts off being very flattering,” says 68-year-old Linda in an interview which, along with that of Burt’s, forms the backbone of this confounding documentary. “It shortly becomes very stifling.”
Linda had every reason to be concerned: enraged by her engagement to another man, Burt conspired to have lye thrown in her face, blinding her. What follows is a surreal story of horrific adoration. How to define a man to whom love is an act of outrage, let alone the woman who ultimately stood by him? As the Pugachs’ twisted history of obsession and complicity grows wilder and woollier, simple answers slip further out of reach.