Wishing to become a successful Reggae singer, a young Jamaican man finds himself tied to corrupt record producers and drug pushers.


Perry Henzell





Cast overview, first billed only:
Jimmy Cliff ... Ivanhoe "Ivan" Martin
Janet Bartley Janet Bartley ... Elsa
Carl Bradshaw Carl Bradshaw ... Jose Smith
Ras Daniel Hartman Ras Daniel Hartman ... Pedro
Basil Keane Basil Keane ... Preacher
Bob Charlton Bob Charlton ... Hilton
Winston Stona Winston Stona ... Detective Ray Jones
Lucia White Lucia White ... Mother
Volair Johnson Volair Johnson ... Pushcart Boy
Beverly Anderson Beverly Anderson ... Housewife
Clover Lewis Clover Lewis ... Market Woman
Elijah Chambers Elijah Chambers ... Longa
Prince Buster Prince Buster ... DJ at Dance
Ed 'Bim' Lewis Ed 'Bim' Lewis ... Photographer
Bobby Loban Bobby Loban ... Fitz


With dreams of becoming a successful Reggae singer, a young Jamaican man finds corruption from his record producers and the drug pushers they're connected to. Rather than fail his dreams Ivan lets nothing stand in his way, not even the law. Written by Daniel Jos. Leary

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


dem a loot, dem a shoot, dem a wail in shanty town (British DVD tag-line) See more »


Crime | Drama | Music


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The car Ivan steals from the Skyline Hotel is a 1970 Mercury Cougar convertible. See more »


Mother: What you come to town for?
Ivan Martin: Grandma dead.
Mother: Dead? Dead? How she can dead and I never know?
Ivan Martin: We tried to get you, but the telegram came back.
Mother: And when she going to bury?
Ivan Martin: She buried already, Momma.
Mother: Bury already? Buried already and I never get to go to the funeral? Oh, God. Oh, God...
See more »

Alternate Versions

Because of the thick accents, and the extensive use of Jamaican slang, the U.S. release prints contained English subtitles. See more »


Featured in Reggae: The Story of Jamaican Music (2002) See more »


Rivers of Babylon
Performed by The Melodians
Composed by Brent Dowe and Trevor McNaughton
See more »

User Reviews

A film that has changed
11 February 2006 | by mikefink777See all my reviews

I think "The Harder They Come" has been cut and re-cut many times over the years. I saw a current version of it recently, and it was not the same film I saw in 1972. There were many scenes I recall that were missing. I suspect no one commenting about the film on this site has seen the original 1972 release.

I have read that it was originally a revolutionary film, but was reduced to an anti-drug cliché diatribe through much re-editing.

When you saw it, did you see the following two things:

(1) On two occasions, when Jimmy Cliff's character got caned, they showed him stretched over a barrel with his penis hanging through a hole. Then he lost his water when the policeman hit him. They showed a close up of his penis hanging there with water coming out.

(2) When his character's new record became popular, a scene with a highly effeminate DJ, who used "love" and "lover" in every sentence, taking a telephone request for the record. "Hello Lover, this is Bob's love line. What do you want to hear, Lover?" Or some such.

I did not see these scenes when I saw the film recently, and I am sure there must have been many other things that were not the same as in 1972 original.

Does anyone know how to obtain and authentic 1972 version of this film?


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Release Date:

14 April 1976 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

The Harder They Come See more »

Filming Locations:

Kingston, Jamaica See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (TV)

Sound Mix:



Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

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