A Dangerous Life

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A Dangerous Life is a 1988 English-language and Australian-produced film revolving around the final years of Ferdinand Marcos' rule, from the assassination of Benigno Aquino, Jr. in 1983, to the 1986 People Power Revolution in the Philippines that ousted the Marcos dictatorship. It was directed by Robert Markowitz and written by David Williamson. Musical scoring was arranged and composed by Brian May, and cinematography was done by James Bartle. Originally released as a six-hour HBO mini-series in the United States, it was later edited to become a 162-minute television movie.

The focus of the historical events were centered around American TV journalist Tony O'Neil (Gary Busey), who shows up as a part of the key events that lead to the downfall of the Marcos regime.

The film was shot on location in Sri Lanka, mostly due to hostilities the producers had experienced in Manila while filming The Year of Living Dangerously in 1982.

Plot and Treatment

American TV journalist Tony O’Neil (Gary Busey), puts his own life on the line to get the inside story of the downfall of the regime of Ferdinand Marcos. Along with other fictional characters, he manages to get his life revolving around the life of the nation, putting into record a very historical period.

The movie makes heroic profiles of known figures during that time, and looks into the play of human relationships in a very fast turn of historical events.

It also gives glimpses of the ordinary lives of some citizens during that time, and a microscopic view of ordinary people who were involved in the political scenery. There is a scene where an activist, Celie Belamo, who joined the NPA and was abducted and killed upon coming home from the mountains. This incident sent O'Neil looking for her body in the middle of a dump site.

Fictional characters

  • Gary Busey as Tony O'Neil
  • Rebecca Gilling as Angie Fox
  • James Handy as Mike Heseltine
  • Roy Alvarez as Col. "Tiger" Tecson - In real life, Alvarez resembles Col. Gringo Honasan, but producers felt he was better suited as Angie's love interest.
  • Guy Stone as Peter
  • Alexander Cortez as Raoul
  • Dina Bonnevie as Celie Balamo (uncredited)
  • Spanky Manikan as Ramon, a cameraman
  • Grace Parr as a New York Times secretary
  • Arthur Sherman as Alex
  • Betty Mae Piccio as a computer operator

Real-life characters

Production credits

  • Robert Markowitz - director
  • Brian May - composer (music score)
  • James Bartle - cinematographer




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