The Day of the Jackal (1973)

With French police on his trail, a mysterious English assassin attempts to kill President de Gaulle in this gripping adaptation of Frederick Forsyth’s thriller.
“Not just a suspense classic, but a beautifully executed example of filmmaking. It’s put together like a fine watch.” Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times, 30 July 1973 The Jackal’s real name is unknown even to the paramilitary group that has hired him to assassinate President Charles de Gaulle. Apparently an upper-class Englishman, he is completely unconcerned about the consequences of his violent actions. Yet he remains resolute, ruthless and resourceful, always leaving his pursuers - and the audience - one step behind him as he effortlessly switches identities throughout his mission. Based on thriller writer Frederick Forsyth’s novel and shot on location all over Europe, Zinnemann’s film is detailed enough to seem plausible, and exciting even when the outcome seems inevitable. Although the film was not a commercial success, the film was nominated for seven Baftas and boosted the career of Edward Fox, who beat Roger Moore and Michael Caine to the role. Fictionalised assassination attempts on real-life leaders feature in Inglourious Basterds (2009) and Death of a President (2006), where Adolf Hitler and George W. Bush are the respective targets.
1973 United Kingdom, France
Directed by
Fred Zinnemann
Produced by
John Woolf
Written by
Kenneth Ross
Edward Fox, Terence Alexander, Michel Auclair
Running time
142 minutes