"Do Wah Diddy Diddy"
Written by Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich
Performed by Manfred Mann
Trio Music Co., Inc. (BMI) and Universal Songs of Polygram Inc. (BMI)
Courtesy of EMI Records
Under license from EMI Film & Television Music See more »
who's crazier, him or her? you decide, in this scabrous, oddly fun documentary
I'm reminded of the line from a Chris Rock special where he's talking about gay people should be allowed to married and "be as miserable as everybody else." How about passive-aggressive? One may try and pin-point Burt Pugach as being such, though he's not the easiest sort of character to crack. Or, maybe he is: a pioneer in the field of ambulance chasers, he laid eyes on a woman one day in the late 50s in the Bronx and knew he had to have her. She wasn't that easy, albeit he was pretty rich as a lawyer/movie producer, and had all sorts of nifty objects. But, low and behold, he was really married, and once found out kept stalling on getting divorced. Why exactly I'm sure only Burt, and his eventual ex-wife, could say, but it lead down a path of one of the most bizarre cases of 'tainted love' one could ever find: blindness by acid, jail-time, near poverty, and finally a strange reconciliation and marriage between stalker and stalkee.
If you don't know the tale of the Pugach's, as I did, some of this may come as something of a surprise (the glasses Linda wears, at first, seems like a simple fashion gimmick, until the real reason comes out- and sight of her eyes as they are today), but what makes the film work best is seeing it as a surreal human interest story. Like Capturing the Friedmans, you'll leave the theater or finish watching at home and it will get you talking not so much in a gossip kind of way as the newspapers originally made it out to be as a huge story (the kind that, had it come out today, would be probably the only news for a week on the cable channels), but as if these people are almost like characters in a movie. How could Burt's first wife stand all this, or even marry him? Didn't Linda know that Burt could go one step further following her engagement to Larry Schwartz? How could the two of them stay together even after there was ANOTHER big charge put against Burt in the 90s with another woman claiming damages? All these questions, and more, may be prevalent, but in the end it doesn't matter too much.
What Crazy Love is is sincere entertainment, where there's real truth in it- the circumstances following Linda's blindness, leading to a sort of existential crisis leading up to Burt, mostly for the money, truth be further told- and lots of dark humor as well. It may be a little exploitive perhaps, but seeing photos of Burt in the 70s after getting out of prison are some of the most demented photos, I've ever seen of a man, with his beard looking like what a character playing the devil might wear (not that he is the devil, just a, well, lying ambulance chaser). There's also some humility in seeing how, in a way, the marriage that Burt and Linda ended up in may not be too far removed, in seeing them on screen anyway, from how people you know might act- which is a level of discontentment and misery, but also the feeling that things can't get much worse.
It's not a great documentary, as sometimes the editing is a little jerky, and the last transition from previously cool songs to a mopey ballad the couple dance to is not good at all. But it's got many qualities that make it very watchable- unpredictability (or predictability, depending on point of view or knowledge of the material), a real sense of time and place (great Bronx locations), and two people and their friends and witnesses who can attest to the biggest puzzle of them all: how could they get back together after what happened?
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