Saturday, July 20, 2013


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Production:  Emar Pictures
Cast:  Susan Roces, Joseph Estrada, Paquito Diaz
Direction:  Armando Garces


BUHAY SA BUHAY, in Eastman color that may not be flaming as the movie's advertising proclaims but in clear, clean, and often striking photographic detail, is the best example that, technically, Filipino films are in general as good as any foreign-made and processed picture.

Felipe Sacdalan's competent hand and functioning imagination are evident in frame after frame of Joseph Estrada fleeing from gunmen and gumshoes, Susan Roces fleeing from Joseph Estrada, Joseph Estrada and Susan Roces fleeing from Oscar Keesee, Oscar Keesee fleeing from no one, and Susan Roces finally fleeing to Joseph Estrada.  The moving shots of the countryside are alive and full of interesting detail, too, as in the photographing of fight sequences and night time raids.

The Buhay Sa Buhay photographer's pride, however, should really consist of the various angles and emotional attitudes he has captured of the love story between Estrada and Susan.

A convict is taken out of Muntinlupa penitentiary, Joseph Estrada escapes when the truck he is riding with the prison guards overturns in a ditch near Badman's Paquito Diaz's territory.  As it turns out, Diaz and his two brothers and father (Oscar Keesee) has been responsible for Estrada's imprisonment by goading him to kill in revenge for the murder of his father, brother, and bride-to-be.  A rich and powerful clan, Oscar Keesee's family and hired gunmen start to track down escaped convict Estrada.  The desperate hero decides to take Susan Roces, a doctor and the fiancee of Paquito Diaz, as hostage, and chains her wrist to his.  Chained not by fate, by hatred, by love, or by evil men, but by mere necessity, Estrada the ruthless and Rocess the innocent go their brief romantic way.

Love develops as the doctor knows more of the ex-convict's life and character, and this is what Photographer Sacdalan makes capital use of for his charming forest romance scenes and final clinching drama.

In between, there are the habitual fistfights, gunfights, and roarfights.  When not being bothered by three policemen who keep popping in and out of inopportune senes with inopportune words, Oscar Keesee is riled by the bumbling stupidity of his coconut palm leaf fan carrier and folding chair attendant.  Forcibly comic and faintly remisniscent of pre-war landlord film types,  Keesee's role is the most memorable in Buhay Sa Buhay -- with perhaps the exception of his son who is conscience-stricken over his brothers' and father's ruthlessness and who finally brings on the catharsis that ends the family's supremacy and the haunted flight of Estrada and Roces.

Other technical aspects of Buhay Sa Buhay appear exceptionally good, as the sound mixing which eliminates the harshness and overloudness of most Tagalog films.

Armando Garces created this movie, and he should be credited with having chosen some of the best technicials for the film.  The best moneymaking stars, too, Joseph Estrada and Susan Roces, who are paired for the first time.

- Film Review on "Spotlight" by Ophelia San Juan
  The Weekly Nation, December 1965

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