The Harder They Come is a 1972 Jamaican crime film directed by Perry Henzell.
It stars reggae singer Jimmy Cliff, who plays Ivanhoe Martin, a character based on Rhyging, a real-life Jamaican criminal who achieved fame in the 1940s. Martin is a poor Jamaican man in search of a job, before finally getting one as a reggae singer. Upon the verge of a hit record, he discovers the only way he can get a hit record is by signing away the rights. Eventually, Jose (played by Carl Bradshaw), one of the first people he met after he moved to Kingston, offers him an opportunity dealing marijuana. He turns to a life of crime and violence. There are two versions of the film — one with subtitles and one without — and each has a different ending.
Other major roles in the film were played by Janet Bartley as Elsa, Basil Keane as Preacher, the late Ras Daniel Hartman as Pedro, Beverly Anderson (who eventually married Michael Manley who became the Prime Minister of Jamaica) as the Upper St. Andrew Housewife, the late Bob Charlton as Hilton, Jamaican actor Volair Johnson as Pushcart Boy, and well known Jamaican comedians Ed 'Bim' Lewis as Photographer, and Aston 'Bam' Winter as the drunken husband.
The Harder They Come was released in February 1973 in New York City by Roger Corman's New World Pictures to little attention. It became more popular when it was played to midnight audiences nationwide the following April. The film is referenced in the Clash songs "Guns of Brixton" and "Safe European Home". In 2005, it was developed into a stage musical by the Theatre Royal Stratford East and UK Arts Productions in London. Adapted by Henzell, it opened on 25 March 2006. The soundtrack to the film is considered a breakthrough for reggae in the United States.
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