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The Harder They Come

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The Harder They Come

type:
Movie
Current Status:
In Season
mpaa:
R
runtime:
120 minutes
performer:
Jimmy Cliff, Janet Barkley
director:
Perry Henzell
distributor:
Island Home Video
genre:
Mystery and Thriller, Drama

We gave it an A

For those who saw it back in 1972, The Harder They Come was a revelation, evocative of a poor but vibrant Jamaican culture few Americans knew about, with a bombshell reggae soundtrack that for all intents introduced the musical genre here. Unfortunately, despite its artful neorealist presentation of a classic melodrama (poor country boy in the big city is drawn into crime) and an uncommonly believable cast composed mostly of nonactors playing themselves, the film’s producers overlooked a major obstacle: Mainstream American audiences might find the Jamaican patois dialogue as incomprehensible as Martian. Eventually, of course, the film was reissued with subtitles and became a staple on the midnight-movie circuit. This welcome new video version — discreetly letterboxed and digitally remastered, with the color, sound, and subtitles all much improved from an earlier HBO tape — does full justice to singer Jimmy Cliff’s charismatic performance and Perry Henzell’s vivid directorial work. A