KINGSTON, Jamaica, Friday July 12, 2013 – The Harder They Come, the film often credited with introducing enduring Jamaican singer/actor Jimmy Cliff to the world, will be re-released in the United States in September to coincide with the 40th anniversary of its debut in that country.
Directed by Perry Henzell and co-written by Trevor Rhone, the low-budget movie was released in Jamaica in 1972 and made its US debut the following year.
The film was initially released in New York City by Roger Corman’s New World Pictures, going on to gain popularity when it played to midnight audiences nationwide.
The soundtrack to the film is considered a breakthrough for reggae in the United States, and introduced Jamaican pop culture to a diverse audience.
The Harder They Come stars Cliff as Ivanhoe Martin, a character based on “Rhyging,” a real-life Jamaican criminal who achieved notoriety in West Kingston in the 1940s.
The plot follows the misadventures of Ivan, a youngster from rural Jamaica who follows his dreams of fame and fortune as a singer to the capital.
After recording his song, Ivan discovers that the only way he can get a hit record is by signing away the rights. Disillusioned, he turns to a life of crime and violence that ends abruptly in a hail of bullets.
Other major roles in the film were played by Janet Bartley (Elsa), Basil Keane (Preacher), Ras Daniel Hartman (Pedro), Beverly Anderson, who subsequently married Michael Manley who became Jamaica’s Prime Minister (St Andrew Housewife), Bob Charlton (Hilton), Volair Johnson (Pushcart Boy), and Jamaican comedians Ed “Bim” Lewis (Photographer), and Aston “Bam” Winter (drunken husband).
The Harder They Come soundtrack was released by Island Records in England in 1972 and contains the title song, “Many Rivers to Cross,” “Wonderful World, Beautiful People” and “You Can Get it if You Really Want,” all by Jimmy Cliff; as well as “Shantytown” by Desmond Dekker, The Melodians’ “By The Rivers of Babylon,” “Pressure Drop” and “Sweet and Dandy” by Toots and The Maytals, and “Johnny Too Bad” by The Slickers. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)