‘The Harder They Come’: The Film That Brought Reggae to the World

The cult classic hit U.S. cinemas today in 1973.

It’s been 45 years since The Harder They Come hit movie theaters in the United States.

The Jamaican crime film starring Jimmy Cliff was a sensation at home, celebrated for its natural portrayal of Jamaican culture. Abroad, the film, in tandem with its iconic soundtrack, is largely credited for popularizing reggae internationally.

And what a soundtrack it is, featuring classic hits by Jimmy Cliff (“The Harder They Come,” “You Can Get It If You Really Want,” “Sitting in Limbo”), The Melodians (“Rivers of Babylon”), Desmond Dekker (“007 (Shanty Town)”), Toots & the Maytals’ (“Sweet & Dandy,” “Pressure Drop”), The Slickers (“Johnny Too Bad”) and DJ Scotty (“Draw Your Brakes”).

It is no coincidence that within a year of The Harder They Come‘s release, Bob Marley scored his international breakthrough with Catch A Fire, turning reggae into the global phenomenon that we still know and love nearly half a century later.