In 1972, Jamaican singer Jimmy Cliff burst into America with a movie called "The Harder They Come." It is probably the only English movie that required English subtitles.
It's the tale of a young man who leaves the country, comes to the big city, gets taken advantage of, becomes an outlaw and pays the price. But he manages to record a song and become a legend.
It's a low-budget movie, but a great portrait of a desperately poor culture from which Reggae emerged, and for my money it has one of the best soundtracks ever recorded. Along with Bob Marley and the Wailers, the music in this film is largely responsible for the Reggae explosion of the 1970s. It features a variety of artists, notably Toots and the Mayals and Desmond Decker and the Aces (who had a hit in 1968, "The Israelite").
But the star is Jimmy Cliff, who shines with the title track, "You Can Get It If You Really Want," and this one--"Many Rivers to Cross." It's a soulful wail from a place we've all been one time or another.
Cliff is still enjoying moderate success and just released a new album. His voice and his songwriting skills have never been better. His continued international popularity dates directly from this movie, and these songs.