Tuesday, August 11, 2015

576. The Harder They Come (1973)

Running Time: 120 minutes
Directed By: Perry Henzell
Written By: Perry Henzell, Trevor D. Rhone
Main Cast: Jimmy Cliff, Janet Bartley, Carl Bradshaw, Ras Daniel Hartman, Basil Keane
Click here to view the trailer


This is one that I needed to seek out and watch soon, because it unavailable via Netflix at home DVD delivery and thus, if I didn't find it soon, it was going to become a problem child down the road. I scoured over the internet and managed to find a decent copy, so here we are...

The Harder They Come stars Jimmy Cliff (Jamaican reggae musician) as Ivanhoe Martin (what a name, right?), who goes from living in the states to moving back to his Jamaican homeland, following the death of his grandmother. He first visits his mother, who cries when he breaks the news of the grandmother's death and then goes on to tell Ivanhoe that he can't stay with her. He lies, stating he already has a place to live, but actually he doesn't, so he lives homeless for a few days. He eventually manages to get a job at a mechanic shop and works hard to rebuild a bicycle, so that he'll have some sort of transportation. Ivanhoe dreams of cutting a record and thinks he has a hit on his hands. The main man when it comes to music in Jamaica is a man named Hilton, owner of Hilton Records and the guy who decides who becomes a star and what songs get played on the radio. Ivanhoe eventually manages to get an appointment with Hilton and cuts a record, which Hilton likes. He offers Ivanhoe twenty bucks for the rights to the record, to which Ivan first declines, but eventually accepts, since he's hard up for cash. However, Hilton instructs the local DJs to not overplay the record and Ivan's dreams of becoming a music superstar go unrealized. Still poor, Ivan turns to his friend Jose and the two go into business dealing marijuana. When caught, Ivanhoe ends up killing a police officer and goes on the lam as a fugitive. It becomes obvious that Ivan was going to get on the radio one way or another - either as a musician or a top news story.


What to say about this one? Well, if you want to write a review of The Harder They Come, the first thing you must talk about is the music - since it's easily the best part of the whole movie. Whenever anyone ever mentions Jamaican music, I always think about, of course, Bob Marley. When I think about Bob Marley, I think of a man whose music I don't care for. I tend to say it all sounds the same to me, even though I've probably never heard a Bob Marley song from beginning to end. I just don't like the way it sounds and if ever one of his tunes comes across the radio or crosses my path in any way, I change the channel or turn down the volume. I judge him unfairly, I'm aware. However, after hearing the tunes in The Harder They Come, I'd be more willing to leave the channel put, keep the volume turned up. Jimmy Cliff made me realize that it all doesn't sound the same and actually the songs are quite soulful, fun, boogy inducing numbers. Songs like "Sweet and Dandy", "You Can Get It If You Really Want" and yes, "The Harder They Come" are all fantastic tunes that made this otherwise mediocre film cruise along a little faster.

Otherwise, the film, like I just said, is kinda *meh*. It's not bad, it's just pretty basic as far as plots go. There's nothing world changing going on as far as the characters are concerned. It's one man's quest for his promised fifteen minutes of fame and how he'll do anything to get it. Notice the smile on Ivanhoe Martin's face when he tells his girl to keep the radio on, they'll be talking about him soon, when referring to his killing of three cops. Hell, notice how proud he is when he corrects his girl when she mistakenly thinks he only killed one cop. In that respect, the Ivanhoe Martin character is interesting. It's the polar opposite of films where criminals can't escape their past - this one tells of a criminal who wants to remain a criminal. But really, the only reason to see this film or even to label it as a must see, is the songs and to get introduced to Jimmy Cliff, if you don't already know him. He really did a fine job, especially considering his first trade is music.

RATING: 6/10  Seriously, check out those songs or hell, just check out the movie, as it might be *meh*, but it's still worth a couple hours of your time.


August 11, 2015  9:15pm

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