Cast & Crew
While trying to elude a gang of knife-wielding gypsies, fugitive Tony flees across the United States border into Montreal. Hiding out in a large Exposition building, Tony witnesses a shooting and hears the dying man's last words, "Charley, Toboggan is dead. Committed suicide." Upon searching the body of the dead man, whose name was Renner, Tony finds a packet of money and takes it. Soon after Paul and Rizzio, who were to meet Renner, arrive and discovering that he has been shot, handcuff Tony and force him to drive away with them. Tony tries to escape by pushing Paul out of the open convertible and choking Rizzio. Although Rizzio prevails, Paul is severely injured in the fall from the moving car. Soon after, they arrive at his gang's hideout, where the gang's boss Charley is waiting with Paul's infantile teenage sister Pepper, psychotic ex-prizefighter Mattone and Charley's girl friend, aging moll Sugar. Charley orders Tony to tell him the location of Renner's money, but Tony refuses, knowing that his secret insures his survival. Although the men despise Tony for hurting Paul, Sugar is kind to him and even lies to Pepper that Renner shot her brother Paul, in order to keep the gun-happy girl from killing Tony. Soon after, Tony claims that he is wanted for killing a police officer during a hold-up in France. He escaped after being shot and hopped a freighter to the United States, then took a train to Montreal. Although he at first feigns empathy, Charley gives Tony until the next day to reveal the money's location. The next morning, while Charley contemplates aloud how to kill Tony, Pepper yells hysterically from Paul's upstairs bedroom, shooting through the door, and demands that Charley find a priest for her now dead brother. Charley orders Tony to remove Pepper from the room and sends him in unarmed, but Pepper is easily calmed and soon divulges that she and Paul were adopted by Charley after their father, Charley's friend, died in prison. Later, after a brief ceremony in which Charley quickly mumbles the Lord's Prayer to appease Pepper, Charley and the others go to Montreal, leaving Sugar to guard Tony. Lonely, Sugar seduces the handcuffed Tony into an afternoon of lovemaking, but Charley discovers them upon his return. Fearing Charley's reprisal, Tony reveals the money's location. Charley, reassured by Tony's honesty, discloses that they have already found the money. Thinking that Tony might be a candidate for the gang, Charley hands him a gun and instructs him to hit a target. Failing to hit the target within five shots, Tony aims at Mattone, but the last chamber is empty, saving Mattone from certain death. Impressed with Tony's fearlessness, Charley asks him join them for their next job, kidnapping a state witness named Toboggan from Montreal police headquarters. Charley explains that gangster McCarthy has offered them one million dollars for Toboggan, his mentally retarded ex-mistress, who is prepared to testify against him. When Tony tells Charley that Renner said Toboggan killed herself, the gangster decides to stage the kidnapping anyway, by dressing Pepper in Toboggan's clothes and having her pose as the dead woman. Meanwhile, Pepper gives Tony one of two plane tickets she has to New Orleans and Paul's passport, asking him to forsake the gang and flee with her after the kidnapping. On the eve of the kidnapping, the gang attends an opera in the building next to the heavily guarded police headquarters. After Charley and the gang leave mid-way through the performance, a teenage majorette, whom Mattone earlier accosted in a park, spots Mattone in the crowd and tells nearby guards. Policemen search the seats but find only Sugar, whom they take in for questioning. Meanwhile, the rest of the gang go the basement garage, where Renner had left a car loaded with guns. After ramming the car through several walls to access a building adjacent to the headquarters, the gang uses a fire truck with an automated ladder to form a bridge to the police hospital unit where Toboggan was last held captive. However, when they enter the room to steal Toboggan's dress and her signature stuffed bear toy, a shootout with the police ensues in which Rizzio is captured. When the police pressure Rizzio to reveal the location of the gang's hideout, he leads them to a bar where he suddenly throws a cue ball at the officers to incite them to shoot, killing him instantly. Upon hearing that Toboggan has been kidnapped, McCarthy agrees to meet Charley for the exchange at an abandoned lot. Mattone guides Pepper, who is dressed in Toboggan's clothes wearing a bag over her head and holding the toy, toward the gangster and demands the money. Once he is assured the money is real, Mattone shoots at McCarthy and his men. In the ensuing shootout, Mattone is killed as Charley and Tony take cover behind their car. The toy, secretly loaded with a grenade, is then thrown at McCarthy and his crew, killing them all. Pepper drives Tony and the now wounded Charley back to the hideout, but they are quickly surrounded by police. Knowing that he is dying, Charley hands Tony and Pepper their share of the money and orders them to leave, while he fights off the police. As they drive away, however, Pepper senses that their escape route might be blocked by police. While Tony scouts ahead on foot, the gypsy chief, who had been following him, stabs him in the back. Realizing he must save Pepper, Tony pulls out the knife, staggers back to the car pretending nothing has happened and orders Pepper to go ahead to New Orleans, promising to meet her there later. When he returns to the house to die with Charley, the two men fire at a target just outside, playing for marbles, a game that keeps them focused on each other while dozens of police encroach upon the house, shooting through every window.
This film, which contemporary sources credit as a French-Canadian-U.S. production, was first released in France under the title La course du lièvre à travers les champs. Some reviews listed the title as . . . And Hope to Die, with elipses. Various working titles included The Rabbit's Way Across the Field, A Hare's Course Across the Fields, The Rabbits Race Across the Field and The Run of the Hare Across the Fields.
Preceding the opening credits, a French boy is shown attempting to play with other children on a Paris street, including a tough gypsy boy, who rips open the French boy's bag of marbles with a knife, spilling them down the neighborhood steps. This sequence closes with the quotation: "We are but older children, dear, who fret to find our bedtime near," from Lewis Carrol's Through the Looking Glass, the sequel to his Alice in Wonderland book. At two points in the film the image of the Chesire Cat, a character from Alice and Wonderland, is seen. The first is a poster in a shop window in Paris as the children play. The second instance is at the close of the film, when a poster of the Cheshire Cat is used as the target for the two main characters as they shoot for marbles.
he scene of the children playing at the beginning of the film is followed by the character "Tony" fleeing on foot from a gypsy chief and his thugs, after being held at knifepoint. This pursuit scene is intercut with the opening title credits. Occasionally in the film, Tony has flashbacks to similar childhood memories. Closing credits acknowledge Paris-Studios-Cinema, Boulogne-Billancourt-Studio and Auditorium and Éclair, Epinay-Studio, and Éclair, Paris-film laboratory and the assistance of Air France.
Filmfacts states that the original running time for the September 1972 Paris opening of And Hope to Die was 140 minutes. When the U.S. version was edited, the running time was cut to 99 minutes. Reviews of the French version mention numerous scenes referring to Tony's childhood memories, suggesting that the film was a metaphor for how boys' games become adult heists; however, many of these scenes are missing in the edited U.S. version. In addition, U.S. reviews mention that the gypsies are chasing Tony because he accidentally crashed his plane on a beach, killing several gypsy children. This plot detail was not explained or seen in the viewed print.
A May 27, 1970 Daily Variety article reported that Jeanne Moreau was originally cast opposite Jean-Louis Trintignant, with Jean Jose Richer directing, and that Moreau asked Lee Marvin to co-star in the picture. An December 18, 1970 Daily Variety news item stated that Frank Sinatra's daughter Christina was also being considered for a role. According to a October 6, 1971 Variety article, when the film began shooting that month it was directed by René Clement. Location shooting for And Hope to Die took place in Montreal, Canada. Studio interiors were shot in Billancourt Studios, Paris.
Some critics noted that Clement (1913-1996), who was famous for such French thrillers as The Knave of Hearts and Purple Noon (see below), did not live up to his past fame with And Hope to Die. According to a February 15, 1972 Daily Variety article, the picture was the first English-speaking role for French film star Trintignant. A modern source states that And Hope To Die marked the film debut of actress Emmanuelle Béart, who May have been one of the children in the opening sequence of the film.
Released in United States 1972
Released in United States 1972