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A secret military organization, the OAS, believing French President Charles de Gaulle has betrayed the nation by giving Algeria its independence, backs an assassination attempt in July 1962 that fails. A year later, the OAS steps up its efforts, hiring a professional killer who goes by the code name The Jackal for $500,000. The Jackal, believed responsible for the murder of Dominican leader Trujillo and at least one other head of state in Africa, sets out on an elaborate plan using forged identity papers, a weapon hand-crafted according to his specifications, and a mole in De Gaulle's staff to tip him off to any information authorities may gather about him. The story cuts back and forth in the cat-and-mouse game between the ever-elusive Jackal and the French authorities trying to stop him before it too late. When De Gaulle makes a series of public appearances on Liberation Day, The Jackal has foiled all attempts to stop him and takes his sniper's position.
Director: Fred Zinnemann
Producers: John Woolf, Julien Derode, David Deutsch
Screenplay: Kenneth Ross, based on the novel by Frederick Forsyth
Cinematography: Jean Tournier
Editing: Ralph Kemplen
Art Direction: Willy Holt, Ernest Archer
Music: Georges Delerue
Cast: Edward Fox (The Jackal), Michel Auclair (Col. Rolland), Delphine Seyrig (Collette), Alan Badel (Minister), Derek Jacobi (Caron).
C-143m. Closed captioning.
At the time of its release, some critics said The Day of the Jackal was a rare case of a film far surpassing the source material on which it was based. Adapting Frederick Forsyth's hugely popular international bestseller to the screen was no simple task. Knowing audiences would be very familiar with the story, director Fred Zinnemann and screenwriter Kenneth Ross followed the book faithfully. But where Forsyth had to describe the details of a fictional assassination attempt on French President Charles de Gaulle in an excessively verbose novel, Zinnemann was able to take viewers through the intricate plot by means of the efficient visual narrative conventions of film, using very little dialogue. The film skillfully intercuts between the painstaking detective work of the French authorities to foil the scheme and The Jackal's brilliant steps to carry out the plan while evading several near captures and maintaining his secret identity.
To achieve this effect, Zinnemann employed a semi-documentary style he had honed in a few previous pictures (The Men, 1950, Teresa, 1951). Returning to the screen after a seven-year hiatus, the Austrian-born Zinnemann, one of the most acclaimed directors of post-war American cinema, had to shift gears considerably. Known for stories that tested the conscience of his protagonists, among them High Noon (1952) and A Man for All Seasons (1966), Zinnemann abandoned character development for plot mechanics. Still, creating suspense was a major challenge. Because De Gaulle was never assassinated and lived several years beyond the 1963 setting of the story, audiences knew from the beginning that the assassination attempt would fail. Some critics considered this historical awareness a drawback, but Zinnemann was nevertheless able to create a sense of tension by having The Jackal slip from the hands of authorities several times. We know The Jackal will fail, but we don't know how and when his pursuers will stop him, and we are surprised by the other murders the assassin commits along the way to keep his scheme on track.
Zinnemann instead focuses our attention on tiny details that become fascinating in the telling: (SPOILER ALERT) The Jackal's specifics about the kind of weapon he commissions especially for the task, an odd set of demands that becomes clear at the end when he converts the crutches he uses in his last clever disguise into a long-range rifle; the hints of multiple identities he establishes early on that become more real as he switches between them to elude capture; the unexpected move De Gaulle makes, bending down suddenly to greet a much-shorter man so that The Jackal first shot misses. Zinnemann attends to the tiniest details to lend the film an authenticity that, regardless of the historical facts we already know, makes the assassination seem plausible and possible.
The race against time set up by the film also works to foster audience identification with The Jackal, especially since the government officials bent on stopping him often seem inept and their efforts futile. Edward Fox brings a suave attractiveness to the role, depicting the assassin as a kind of evil James Bond, right down to the meetings with weapons specialists (like Bond's Q) and dalliances with beautiful women encountered along the way. And here is a telling comparison that makes the awareness of De Gaulle's true death (not by assassination) almost irrelevant: In Bond pictures, we know 007 will succeed in his mission, yet we are constantly enthralled by how he will do it and by his close calls with death and capture. The historical truth of the outcome of De Gaulle's real life adds to this identification; because we know The Jackal is a fictional character who will fail, we can almost root for him, as opposed to someone like Lee Harvey Oswald, who history (at least the official version we've been given) informs us was a real killer.
Later films would also wring suspense despite foregone conclusions, such as Executive Action (1973) and JFK (1991), both dealing with the murder of President John F. Kennedy, or All the President's Men (1976), about the uncovering of the Watergate conspiracy. Zinnemann's work here can be seen as something of a blueprint for how to hold attention and create excitement even when the outcome is well known.
The Day of the Jackal is notable as the first major Anglo-French co-production. The cast employed top-notch actors from both countries who were not yet well known, especially in America, heightening the semi-documentary approach and keeping the focus on the mechanics of the plot rather than tipping the balance toward star turns.
by Rob Nixon
The Day of the Jackal (1973)
A semi-remake was made under the name The Jackal (1997) with Bruce Willis as the title character (hired by a Russian mobster to assassinate a high-ranking American official), Sidney Poitier as the FBI official in charge of the case and Richard Gere as an IRA sniper sent to stop the assassin.
The semi-documentary style director Fred Zinnemann used to tell this story was often successfully employed in crime and international-intrigue thrillers, such as The House on 92nd Street (1945), The Naked City (1948) and Operation Manhunt (1954). Zinnemann himself employed the style to varying degrees in other films, notably his directorial debut Menschen am Sonntag (1930), The Seventh Cross (1944) and The Search (1948). Although not strictly "documentary" in style, Zinnemann's film High Noon (1952) bears marks of this method in the way it unfolds in a "real time" narrative.
Zinnemann's realistic, semi-documentary style owes much to the great documentarist Robert Flaherty, who Zinnemann called "probably the greatest single influence on my work as a filmmaker." Among Flaherty's many acclaimed documentaries were Nanook of the North (1922), Tabu (1931), Man of Aran (1934) and Louisiana Story (1948).
Zinnemann faced a similar challenge to creating suspense in his early feature Kid Glove Killer (1942). In that picture, the audience knew the killer's identity from the start and the suspense had to come from watching him methodically tracked down.
Assassination plots involving real-life political leaders are the focal points of such films as Nine Hours to Rama (1963, Gandhi), Executive Action (1973, JFK) and JFK (1991). Fictional stories of high-level political assassinations are also the basis of many films, among them The Man Who Knew Too Much (both the 1934 & 1956 versions by Alfred Hitchcock), Suddenly (1954), The Manchurian Candidate (1962), Hour of the Assassin (1987), In the Line of Fire (1993) and Nick of Time (1995).
Alan Badel, who plays the Minister overseeing the effort to stop De Gaulle's assassination in The Day of the Jackal, plays a man plotting to kill the Prime Minister of a Middle Eastern country in the Gregory Peck thriller Arabesque (1966).
In The Films of Fred Zinnemann: Critical Perspectives (State University of New York Press, 1999), Lloyd Michaels points out that the suspense and threat of gruesome, anonymous murder in The Day of the Jackal is heightened by our awareness of the most famous assassination footage of all time, the Abraham Zapruder home movie of John F. Kennedy's 1963 murder. Michaels likens the image of the shot to Kennedy's head in the Zapruder film to the scene where The Jackal target practices on a dangling melon that explodes into shards of flesh and red pulp,
Frederick Forsyth's international thriller novels have been adapted several times to the screen, notably The Odessa File (1974), The Dogs of War (1981) and The Fourth Protocol (1987).
by Rob Nixon
The Day of the Jackal (1973)
THE DAY OF THE JACKAL - Trivia and Other Fun Stuff
Born in Vienna, Fred Zinnemann's long and distinguished career began with his contribution to Menschen am Sonntag (1930), the documentary-style look at pre-Nazi Berlin that was also directed by future film greats Curt and Robert Siodmak and Edgar G. Ulmer (with a script by the Siodmaks and Billy Wilder).
Zinnemann had one of Hollywood's most successful careers, winning Academy Awards® for his direction of From Here to Eternity (1953) and A Man for All Seasons (1966) and nominated five other times. He also won a Best Documentary Short Subject Oscar® for Benjy (1951). He won a number of other awards for his work on High Noon (1952), A Hatful of Rain (1957), The Nun's Story (1959), and Julia (1977). His four citations from the New York Film Critics Circle have been unmatched by any other director in the post-war period.
Second unit director Andrew Marton once had a fairly successful directorial career on such productions as King Solomon's Mines (1950), The Thin Red Line (1964), and Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion (1965). In the late 60s, the Hungarian native returned to Europe, where he did uncredited directorial work on a couple of films. The Day of the Jackal was his last film before his death in 1992.
A year after this movie, Derek Jacobi appeared in another thriller adapted from a Frederick Forsyth novel, The Odessa File (1974). Jacobi, one of England's most respected actors, is probably best know for his portrayal of the title character in the BBC and PBS mini-series I, Claudius (1976).
Cyril Cusack, who plays the gunsmith, is the father of actress Sinead Cusack, wife of Oscar®-winner Jeremy Irons.
Delphine Seyrig, who plays the woman The Jackal sleeps with and then murders, was one of France's most successful and famous stars. She appeared in internationally acclaimed films by Luis Bunuel - The Milky Way (1969), The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972); Alain Resnais - Last Year at Marienbad (1961), Muriel (1963); and Joseph Losey - Accident (1967), A Doll's House (1973). She also appeared in the beat generation short, Pull My Daisy (1958) with Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, the cult vampire thriller Daughters of Darkness (1971) and Chantal Akermann's experimental drama, Jeanne Dielman 23 Quai du Commerce (1976).
Olga Georges-Picot, the conspirators' mole in the French government, played the small role as the lustful Countess Alexandrovna in Woody Allen's Love and Death (1975). She committed suicide in 1997 at the age of 53.
Composer Georges Delerue also wrote the original music for Zinnemann's A Man for All Seasons (1966) and Julia (1977).
Screenwriter Kenneth Ross also adapted for film Forsyth's novel The Odessa File (1974) and wrote the play that was the basis for the movie Breaker Morant (1980).
There is a noticeable continuity error in the opening sequence of the failed assassination attempt on De Gaulle. The presidential car is seen having its rear window completely shot out by assassins bullets, but when it pulls up to the airport, the window is damaged but intact.
There are 31 individual insert shots of clocks in the movie. By contrast, Zinnemann's High Noon (1952), also concerned with the passage of time, contains only 13 insert shots of clocks.
Famous Quotes from THE DAY OF THE JACKAL
JACKAL (Edward Fox): Half a million.
ROLLAND (Michel Auclair): Half a million new francs?
ROLLAND: You are crazy!
JACKAL: Considering you expect to get France itself, I'd say it was a very reasonable price.
JACKAL: It's possible. The point is getting away with it. And speaking as a professional, that's a very important consideration.
JACKAL: Not only have your own efforts failed, but youe simply queered the pitch for everyone else.
GUNSMITH (Cyril Cusack): Will you be trying for a head or chest shot?
BERTHIER (Timothy West): Action service can't destroy him; they don't know who to destroy. Territorial surveillance can't pick him up at the border because they don know what he looks like. The gendarmes, all 48,000 of them, can't pursue him; they don't know who to pursue. And the police can't arrest him; how can we? We don't know who to arrest.
JACKAL: Boring, aren't they? The magazines?
COLETTE (Delphine Seyrig): Oh, I find them endlessly fascinating.
JACKAL: What, articles on pig breeding and combine harvesters?
COLETTE: I'm enthralled by combine harvesters. In fact, I yearn to have one, as a pet.
MINISTER (Alan Badel): The President rekindles the eternal flame at 10.
MINISTER (referring to the dead Jackal): Who the hell was he?
Compiled by Rob Nixon & Jeff Stafford
The Day of the Jackal (1973)
Fred Zinnemann had not made a movie since his award-winning A Man for All Seasons (1966) when he happened upon a manuscript in the office of British producer Sir John Woolf. "It's a suspense thriller; I just bought it," Woolf said, according to Zinnemann's autobiography. "It will be published next month. You can't put it down." Zinnemann took the manuscript home, read the entire book through the night, and next morning called Woolf and suggested they film it. Woolf agreed.
The book, The Day of the Jackal, was written by Frederick Forsyth, a reporter who had been assigned for several years to cover French President Charles de Gaulle. During that time, he assembled a wealth of details about the president and his government and, after losing his job over a dispute with the BBC over coverage of the war in Biafra, he spent 35 days cranking out the novel. The plot had some basis in fact; attempts had been made on De Gaulle's life before, and it was known that military elements of French society were infuriated by Algeria's winning independence.
The novel was printed in over 30 editions in more than 15 languages with more than a half million in sales in the hardback edition alone. It had been in the top three positions on the U.S. bestseller list for six months, ten weeks of that as number one. In the U.K. it was a bestseller for ten months. As Zinnemann himself found, it was a real page-turner that readers devoured for its sense of suspense and excitement.
"The challenge was to see if we could maintain the same sort of breathless expectancy on the screen," Zinnemann said. "It would be like putting together a giant puzzle, all coldly rational, without any kind of emotion."
Zinnemann entrusted the adaptation to screenwriter Kenneth Ross, whose only previous credit had been the vastly different Franco Zeffirelli film about the life of St. Francis of Assisi, Brother Sun, Sister Moon (1972)
Because the film was planned as an international co-production, Zinnemann had to find a cast of actors from several countries that was up to the task but not such high-profile stars that they would detract from the rather impersonal semi-documentary style he thought best for approaching the story. He brought together a number of French and English actors whose work he admired, among them Delphine Seyrig, Michael Lonsdale, Michel Auclair, Derek Jacobi, Eric Porter, and Alan Badel. His trickiest casting, however, was the crucial title role.
Zinnemann wanted a relative unknown to play The Jackal, someone young, clean-cut, deceptively cheerful and friendly. "My idea was to find someone who was against the type of what one would think a professional killer looks like," he said. "In addition, I thought that it would be very interesting to have something aristocratic about him, very English upper class." He found his actor in Edward Fox, who had recently won a British Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor for Joseph Losey film The Go-Between (1970). Zinnemann had seen Fox in that picture and was impressed with the way he delivered what he considered an "impossible" line - "Nothing is ever a lady's fault" - with such conviction "that he made me believe it."
The other trick was getting someone to portray De Gaulle. Casting Director Margot Capelier found an actor, Adrien Cayla, who specialized in impersonating the beloved French president, who had died two years previously. Cayla had studied De Gaulle minutest gestures, down to his habit of never touching the rim of his cap when he saluted.
Zinnemann and Woolf expected difficulties in securing locations and cooperation because of the sensitive and controversial nature of the story, but the director later credited the smooth diplomacy of producer Julien Derode with achieving a surprisingly eager degree of cooperation from French authorities. They also approved of the way Ross depicted them and their work.
by Rob Nixon
The Day of the Jackal (1973)
The film was shot on location in Paris, London, Rome, Genoa, Nice and director Fred Zinnemann's native city, Vienna.
Because of French producer Julien Derode's skill in dealing with authorities, Zinnemann was able to shoot in usually restricted locations, such as inside the Ministry of the Interior. That was something, according to the director, that had never been granted to any other film company, French or foreign, and which led to outcries in the French press of "favoritism for the Anglo-Saxons."
The company was also able to film inside the police lines of the huge annual July 14 parade down the Champs-Elysees, beginning at dawn with the gradual massing of troops, tanks and artillery that took part in the march. Against this backdrop, Zinnemann shot actors impersonating police personnel. In one scene, the gendarmes arrest and frisk a spectator who reaches inside his coat for what turns out to be merely a pack of cigarettes. Some onlookers thought the scene was real and protested loudly against the "police action."
The Paris police also agreed to clear a very busy square of all traffic for three days during the weekend of August 15, the height of the vacation season when most Parisians left the city. Unfortunately, it rained almost the entire weekend, but the bad weather didn't register on film.
The Parisian train station Gare Montparnasse, which had been razed since the film's 1963 setting, was recreated in the Studios de Boulogne in Paris.
The first scene Edward Fox shot was The Jackal's hiring by the OAS. According to the actor, it didn't go well at first. "We worked on it for three days," he said. "I was leaning too hard on the scene. I needed to be cool, but somehow I couldn't seem to get it." Zinnemann took him on a long car ride to discuss the scene. "He told me not to be depressed, that whatever the drawbacks, it was still a wonderful way to make a living," Fox said.
For The Jackal's last disguise as a one-legged veteran, Fox had to have his leg bent back and strapped to his body. Because this was so painful and cut off all circulation, the company doctor would not allow the actor to do this for more than five minutes at a time.
Cayla's remarkable resemblance to De Gaulle caused quite a stir on location in the streets of Paris. In one scene, where he emerges from a car at the Arc de Triomphe, bystanders gasped when they saw what they thought was De Gaulle's ghost, and according to Zinnemann, one onlooker crossed himself and passed out.
The special light weight, concealable rifle The Jackal has made for the assassination was an actual working weapon constructed by a master British gunsmith. Two rifles were made; one now resides in the Paris Cinematheque and the other was turned over to British authorities as agreed.
by Rob Nixon
The Day of the Jackal (1973)
The Critics' Corner on THE DAY OF THE JACKAL
"Zinnemann's way with this material is cool, sober and geographically stunning. Where Hitchcock would have made it funny, Zinnemann plays it straight (and perhaps dull) allowing himself only that margin of humor provided by the bureaucratic style of the good guys (cops and government functionaries), so that the funniest line of the film comes when someone says of De Gaulle: "At 10 he rekindles the eternal flame." - Vincent Canby, New York Times, May 17, 1973
Praising Zinnemann for "showing us exactly what a thinking-man's fact-fiction thriller can - and should - be," Judith Christ in New York magazine commended the director for "yielding to none of the technical tomfoolery-and-jazz, box office casting and mob-catering sex-and-violence that have misled so many of his peers."
"The triumph of Zinnemann's work is that the suspense is sustained; and the movie as a whole celebrates the old-fashioned values of movie craftsmanship." - Charles Champlin, Los Angeles Times, 1973.
"The Day of the Jackal makes one appreciate anew the wonderful narrative efficiency of the movies. Frederick Forsyth's best-selling novelkept losing its basically simple story line in a forest of words...This is the kind of material a good director can give us in the wink of a panning camera's eye...What might have been just another expensive entertainment becomes, on a technical level, a textbook of reels in the near-forgotten subject of concise moviemaking." - Richard Schickel, Time, May 28, 1973
"The Day of the Jackal is a fascinating contrast to Zinnemann's films of conscience, for the plot hinges on the professional killer's complete lack of conscience or other human attributes that would make it possible to trace him. Given such a protagonist, Zinnemann's impersonal style cannot but be an asset." - Jean-Pierre Coursodon, American Directors (McGraw Hill, 1983)
"...this adaptation of Frederick Forsyth's best-sellerprovides an occasionally satisfying core of tension that owes less to Zinnemann's penchant for High Noon-ish clock-watching than to his schematic opposition of a cold, chameleonic lone killer....with a messy, though equally ruthless, bureaucracy of 'democratic' defence. Low on documentary conviction and political context, but an intriguing exercise in concealing the obvious." - Paul Taylor, TimeOut.
"The Day of the Jackal is all the more depressing a work to see through; plot-heavy, without any of the honest character study that Zinnemann once knew how to manage, and with Frenchmen talking like zis and zat. No director could have made a flop of The Day of the Jackal, but few could have taken its listless neglect of style so compliantly." - David Thomson, The New Biographical Dictionary of Film.
"In spite of its flat, characterless reporter's style and unsurprising denoucement (history insists that the Jackal must fail in his attempt on De Gaulle's life; equally immutable laws of suspense fiction require that at the moment of failure he must have his towering target fairly in his sights), the novel predictably scooped the pool. There is a very steady appetite for fiction sustained by the apparatus of fact; and Forsyth's ingenious and thorough construction left a strong impression that if the characters were only best cardboard, the buildings and the weapons and the timetables were authentic...But the film's theory is often better than its practice. Where accuracy is such a factor, it falls down on surprising points - like the failure to give any clear indication of how the Jackal, having tricked his way inside the tightest of police cordons, has planned his escape...And partly because of the language dilemma, there is a general thinness of atmosphere...In The Day of the Jackal, the viewpoint is merely neutral; like the Jackal himself, the film is something of a professional without an identity." - Penelope Houston, Sight and Sound.
"Fred Zinnemann's movie version of The Day of the Jackal looks so attractive and moves with such crisp authority for the first reel or two that one anticipates a more satisfying picture than fate ultimately has in store. Jackal turns out to be a peculiarly neutral, noncommital entertainment: moderately absorbing but not in the least exciting or intense; a skillfully crafted exercise in essentially spurious suspense." - Gary Arnold, The Washington Post.
"One hell of an exciting movie." - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.
"A film that believes in its own vision can seduce us into forgiving its failings - even as serious a flaw as the improbable destruction of the killer hero at the last possible moment. But this is a frigid enterprise, attempting only to turn the synthetic suspense of a best seller into cold cash." - Paul D. Zimmerman, Newsweek.
Awards & Honors
The Day of the Jackal received an Academy Award® Nomination for Best Editing (Ralph Kemplen). Kemplen's work was also nominated for an American Cinema Editors Award and won the British Academy Award.
The picture received six British Academy Award nominations: Best Film, Direction, Screenplay, Soundtrack, Supporting Actor (Michael Lonsdale), Supporting Actress (Delphine Seyrig).
Golden Globe nominations for Best Motion Picture (Drama), Director and Screenplay.
Compiled by Rob Nixon & Jeff Stafford
The Day of the Jackal (1973)
A riveting historical speculation regarding a hired assassin's calculated bid to kill French President Charles De Gaulle in the early '60s, Fred Zinnemann's adaptation of The Day of the Jackal (1973) was one of the most popular suspense films to come out of the early '70s. Utilizing a staggering array of European locations and a more than capable international cast, the veteran filmmaker spun his story with precision and care, creating a gripping and disquieting portrait of an ingenious killer at work and a desperate chase to derail his objective.
Onetime BBC reporter Frederick Forsyth drew upon his years spent covering the Gallic leader's administration to concoct a suspense story that enjoyed a long stint atop the best-seller charts. The novel took its impetus from the failed attempt upon De Gaulle's life taken in 1962 by the OAS, an extremist faction of the French military that deemed the Old General's grant of autonomy to Algeria to be the greatest of betrayals. In Forsyth's scenario, the cabal decided that it would place the matter in the hands of a professional; a contract killer purported to be responsible for the Trujillo and Lumumba assassinations. The triggerman (Edward Fox)--a natty young Briton answering only to the code name "Jackal"-- agrees to a half-million dollar fee for carrying out the OAS' lethal agenda.
Unsurprisingly, the ranking members of OAS were subjected to constant surveillance by the French authorities; the government learns of their intent to carry out another assassination attempt, but precious few particulars. The ungodly burden of divining the when, where and how is unceremoniously dumped on the man deemed by Paris' police commissioner to be his best detective, an unassuming middle-aged cop named Lebel (Michel Lonsdale). For the course of the film, the viewer follows the Jackal as he criss-crosses the continent in search of the implements for his deadly mission; forged ID and passports, disguises, and a custom-crafted, cannily disguised single-shot rifle. In the parallel plotline, Lebel doggedly interrogates authorities in London and Washington for what crumbs he can about his prey's identity and whereabouts.
Since history tells us that De Gaulle was never assassinated, the ultimate outcome is never in doubt. Regardless, The Day of the Jackal is a compelling watch from start to finish, as the viewer becomes completely absorbed in the killer's methodical machinations to the point where the fact that he failed becomes secondary to discovering the reasons why. This was Zinnemann's first feature in seven years, since the completion of A Man for All Seasons (1966). The director had made his first professional inroads with documentary filmmaking, and he brought a documentarian's eye to this project, with the meticulous, newsreel-like locale shooting in Paris, Britain, Vienna, Rome, Genoa and the Riviera enhancing the verite feel.
In assembling his talented international cast, Zinnemann knew that he didn't want the project to be star-driven, and resisted studio pressure to cast a marquee name as the Jackal. In the patrician mien of Fox, the director found exactly what he was looking for, according to his autobiography A Life in the Movies (Robert Stewart). "He had everything the part needed: he could look starchy and somewhat inbred, with excellent manners--an unlikely type for a hired killer; he could be unobtrusive and lose himself in a crowd; and, best of all, he was hardly known to film audiences; this would help to enhance a feeling of realism," Zinnemann wrote.
The supporting players turn in sturdy vignettes as well, particularly Lonsdale as the initially overwhelmed cop who is entrusted with a crucial, potentially deadly mission. Also noteworthy are Cyril Cusack as the chillingly matter-of-fact gunsmith who constructs the murder weapon; Olga Georges-Picot, as an Algerian War widow recruited by the OAS to seduce a French cabinet minister and serve as a leak for De Gaulle's activities; and Delphine Seyrig as a wealthy aristocrat who comes to regret a sexual dalliance with the cunning killer.
Zinnemann recalled an amusing anecdote regarding Adrien Cayla-Legrand, the De Gaulle impersonator who bore a striking resemblance to the General, particularly in physical gestures and behavior. "One scene called for Cayla to be driven to the Arc de Triomphe," the director reminisced. "When he emerged from his car and started to walk, there was a large gasp from the bystanders and one of them, who was not quite sober, crossed himself and passed out, convinced he had seen De Gaulle's ghost." While afforded a popular reception by audiences, The Day of the Jackal would only earn a single Academy Award® nomination, for Ralph Kemplen's editing.
Producer: Julien Derode, David Deutsch, John Woolf
Director: Fred Zinnemann
Screenplay: Kenneth Ross, Frederick Forsyth (novel)
Cinematography: Jean Tournier
Film Editing: Ralph Kemplen
Art Direction: Robert Cartwright, Pierre Charron
Music: Georges Delerue
Cast: Edward Fox (The Jackal), Terence Alexander (Lloyd), Michel Auclair (Colonel Rolland), Alan Badel (The Minister), Tony Britton (Inspector Thomas), Denis Carey (Casson).
C-143m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.
by Jay S. Steinberg