Every week Rich Terfry looks back at a great song from the good ol’ days. Today's story focuses on Reggae superstar Jimmy Cliff and the song that accompanies the film of the same name, The Harder They Come.
The film has become a cult classic due to its vintage Jamaican vibe and abrupt ending. Cliff plays Ivanhoe Martin, a poor labourer who seeks fame through singing, but succumbs to a life of crime.
Listen to Rich Terfry’s great story about the song "The Harder They Come" here:
All this talk of musicians starring in movies got us thinking about other stand-out roles on the silver screen from men and women who would otherwise be more at home on a live-stage or in a recording studio. There is no doubt that many a musician has unleashed their inner-thespian, but who rose to the challenge? These aren’t the cameos and bit-parts, these are the films that tested their chops.
Have a look at the list below.
STING – DUNE/QUADRAPHENIA
There is some debate as to whether The Police’s most recognizable face has made his mark on film. I am saying he has, Terfry says I’m nuts. Regardless of his acting chops, Sting had a memorable look and attitude in films like David Lynch’s Dune and the controversial depiction of mod culture of The Who’s Quadrophenia.
BJORK – DANCER IN THE DARK
The perfect date movie! Not really. Bjork stars in this dreamy tale of sadness. An immigrant to America, her character is going blind and being taken advantage of financially, physically and emotionally. Directed by Lars von Trier, this one will have you wondering what the point of anything is, but thankfully you will have witnessed one of Bjork’s finest artistic moments.
MICK JAGGER – PERFORMANCE, FREEJACK
The Stones’ frontman has made plenty of appearances in film, and titles like Freejack are ripe for the ribbing. But go back a little further and you find Jagger starring in a cult classic called Performance. A UK gangster flick, the story profiles Mick as a former rockstar. Should he have taken that role more seriously?
MADONNA – EVITA
Madonna and the movies. It doesn’t always work out. Ok, most of the time is doesn’t work out. Her attempts are both admirable and abhorrent, but have been semi-constant in her long career as a pop diva. Bombs include Shanghai Surprise and Swept Away, but there are some winners: Dick Tracy, A League of Their Own and Evita made Madonna a musician worth having a filmography.
DAVID BOWIE – THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH/THE PRESTIGE
Bowie simply looks interesting. His sharp angles, thin build and piercing stare make him highly filmable. His award winning performance in The Man Who Fell To Earth is case in point.
QUEEN LATIFAH - CHICAGO
One of the original Queens of hip-hop hasn’t always hit homers with her film track record, but lately things have changed. Her break-out role was her portrayal of “Mama” Morton in the Oscar-winning Chicago, but performances in Last Holiday and the Secret Life of Bees were strong as well. What’s most notable is just how much she has worked on screen – certainly more than she has in music.
EMINEM – 8 MILE
It may be the only movie has done, or may ever do, but it was a good one. 8 Mile is the story of a young white rapper trying to make it in the rough hip hop clubs of urban Detroit. It worked for one reason, it was basically his truth. Throw in Eminem's talent for drama, his rhyming skills and some gritty filmmaking, and you have an instant classic.
DWIGHT YOAKAM – SLING BLADE
Billy Bob Thornton gets a lot of love for his enduring examination of the challenging character he portrays in his career-breaking film, but it would be half the movie without the stunning performances of his castmates. John Ritter is amazing as a gay store owner who is kind to the handicapped Karl Childers, but the sensational Dwight Yoakam is so joyfully hateable as the angry step-father, he could play bad guys for the rest of his acting career.
TOM WAITS – DOWN BY LAW, THE IMAGINARIUM OR DOCTOR PARNASSUS
It’s hard to emphasize just how good of an actor Tom Waits turned out to be. Whether cameos, bit-parts or beefy starring roles; Waits has proven to be a major talent. With the black and white masterpiece Down By Law, director Jim Jarmusch ripped Waits out of the run-down saloons and bars of his music and into the grit of his filmmaking. In more recent times, Waits was unforgettable as the devil in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Pitch-perfect casting and costume design.
MICHAEL HUTCHENCE – DOGS IN SPACE
Dogs in Space, the mostly-unknown Australian film, is certainly a punky cult classic in its homeland, but never got much love elsewhere. At the heart of this stream of consciousness party film is a stellar performance from the late lead singer of INXS, Michael Hutchence. Dig it up!
What do you think?Add your favourite performances in the comments section below.
Here are some other great editions of Rear-View Mirror:
The Verve/Bittersweet Symphony
Roberta Flack/Killing Me Softly with his Song
R.E.M./Radio Free Europe
Led Zeppelin/Ramble On
Bob Dylan/Visions of Johanna
Glen Campbell/Wichita Lineman
The Velvet Underground/Sweet Jane
Jefferson Airplane/White Rabbit
James Brown/Papa's Got a Brand New Bag
Rolling Stones/Beast of Burden
John Cougar Mellencamp/Pink Houses
on Apr 11, 2012