The Harder They Come Turns 40
Release Date: sometime in 1972
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 120 minutes
Director: Perry Henzell
Studio: Xenon Pictures
Genre: Indie, Drama
Stars: Jimmy Cliff, Janet Bartley and Carl Bradshaw
Rating: (4 out of 5 stars) If you want to pick this movie up for your own collection, I recommend the Xenon Pictures release, it has the best audio and video quality and it even comes with the soundtrack included. It doesn’t get better than that.
The ever iconic cult classic The Harder They Come reached a major milestone this year, it turned 40. In human male terms this would be the time that it bought a new sports car, started dyeing its hair and got something pierced.
Starring reggae legend Jimmy Cliff, The Harder They Come is the story of a country boy, Ivan, who comes to the city with dreams of becoming a singer. The movie is loosely based on the exploits of Jamaican Folk hero Rhyging, a man who escaped from prison and avoided being captured for years until he had a last fatal shoot out with police at Lime Cay. The main protagonist Ivan arrives in town and after many trials and tribulations he cuts a single, and refuses to sign away the rights to his song for a mere 20 dollars. After holding out for a while, he agrees to sign and turns to a life of crime in order to make ends meet. After being ratted out by his buddy for selling ganja, Ivan has a skirmish with the police and kills 2 of them. Meanwhile Ivan’s Song is becoming a radio hit as he becomes front page news. After a city-wide manhunt and many escape attempts Ivan meets his maker on a deserted beach in a gunfight with the military, one of which stands there pointing a stick in the middle of the gunfight. Hilarious and sad, such is life. The credits then roll with a Jamaican lady shakin’ her groove thang. I know, Classic right?
Like most people my discovery of this movie stemmed from an already existing love for the soundtrack, a compilation of some of the best singles out of Jamaica circa 1967-1972. Helping to bring reggae to the world in the years before Bob Marley was an International success, The Harder They Come Soundtrack is still to this day selling steadily and is hailed as one of, if the most, influential reggae albums of all time. With such classics as Toots and the Maytals “Sweet and Dandy” (which is performed live in the movie) to The Slickers gangster tune “Johnny Too Bad” and the title track “The Harder They Come” (also performed live in the movie, with a cigarette in hand) there is not a single track on here that isn’t a classic that will withstand the test of time.
There are also talks of a remake being in the works. Don’t do it. If one of you people involved in this project are reading this, just knock it off. There have been enough bastardizations of classic cinema and we don’t need anymore. Stop it.
If you want to pick this movie up for your own collection, I recommend the Xenon Pictures release, it has the best audio and video quality and it even comes with the soundtrack included. It doesn’t get better than that.
On another note Jimmy Cliff released an album earlier this year entitled Rebirth and is now on tour. If you can’t see the man in person pick up the album its dope.