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This film, which contemporary sources credit as a French-Canadian-U.S. production, was first released in France under the title La course du livre 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 clair, Epinay-Studio, and clair, 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 Ren 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 Bart, who May have been one of the children in the opening sequence of the film.