Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

"Hope to Die" lacks a script

Cleveland Press August 16, 1973

"And Hope to Die" is a pretentious melodrama that aspires to being more then melodrama and which ends up being a good deal less.

It was directed by Rene Clement who did the superb "Rider on the Rain" a few seasons ago. There is no comparison between the two.

THE FRENCH, director has assembled an international cast and filmed the exteriors of his movie in Canada, the interiors in a Paris studio. What he didn't have was a script, especially one with reasonably believable dialog.

The story concerns a fleeing man (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who is being pursued by a gang of gypsies. After a series of labored flashbacks we learn that he caused the accidental death of a number of gypsy children in France and their parents followed him to Canada.

He falls in with a bunch of gangsters led by Robert Ryan. The gang is holed up in a house on an island. At first they are going to kill him, then -- because he has let them think he also is a gangster -- they enlist him in their plan.

THE CRIME itself is an elaborate affair with everyone doing things the hard way.

Aside from the built-in difficulties of pulling a perfect crime, there are the fortuitous coincidences (or unfortuitous, depending on the point of view) that continue to make a mess of well-laid plans.

Clement starts his picture with a childhood episode continues to go back to the episode and ends his movie with a reenactment of an incident out of that episode.

HE LOVES TO go full circle, even if he has to twist his material all out of shape to do it. It is part of the pretentiousness of the movie -- a concern with style to the exclusion of matter.

Ryan has been stuck with bad roles before and been good. He's stuck again in this one.