THE HARDER THEY COME (Perry Henzell) Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Perry Henzell's 1972 one-off marvel is iconic from scene one. Jimmy Cliff steps off a bus under his stingy-brim hat and into a whole heap of symbolism. It's the innocent offering himself to wicked Babylon. It's the easy, rural reggae riddim infiltrating the rock-steady city. It's every pop star - from Sinatra to 50 Cent - thrusting himself into movies by playing a tragic innocent onscreen.
And it's the arrival of reggae music on the international stage. When The Harder They Come first hit North America and Europe in 1973, it launched the mass market success of the chugging, one-drop sound that Bob Marley would elevate to mystic art.
The Harder They Come was Jamaica's first homegrown film. Henzell and novelist Trevor Rhone drew inspiration from Rhygin, Jamaica's real original rude boy, but set the story in the overcharged music scene of early-70s Jamaica, where the downpressors take the form of evil record producers, corrupt cops and hypocritical preachers.
In what seems like an effortless flow of riches, the soundtrack includes the Maytals' Pressure Drop, the Melodians' Rivers Of Babylon and of course Cliff's Many Rivers To Cross, plus the title song. (August 17 and 19, Bloor)