The Day of the Jackal (1973) Poster


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The novel and film adaptations of "The Day of the Jackal" caused the London Public Records and Passport offices to tighten their regulations to avoid/reduce the chance of anybody stealing and using a deceased person's identity, as the Jackal carried out.
Director Fred Zinnemann wanted the Jackal to be played by someone anonymous and indistinct, so he eschewed famous names in favour of casting a then-unknown actor named Edward Fox. He later admitted this concept may have led to the film's below-expectations performance when it released in theatres.
During the filming of the final sequence where President de Gaulle is presenting medals to veterans, the large crowd of extras were unaware of how close a resemblance actor Adrien Cayla-Legrand bore to the actual President. On the first take, when the President exits his limousine, most of the crowd gasped and an elderly extra, who was playing one of the veteran soldiers, fainted in shock.
When the Jackal meets the weapons supplier in Genoa, there is a picture of John F. Kennedy on the cover of an Italian magazine reporting on President Kennedy's recent visit to Europe. The scene is set on 2 August 1963, about three months before Kennedy himself was assassinated.
According to Roger Moore, producer John Woolf wanted him to play the Jackal, but Fred Zinnemann refused Moore as he was too famous an actor. Moore would later face off against Michael Lonsdale (Claude Lebel) in the OO7 film Moonraker (1979).
The film features no soundtrack music after the first five minutes other than diegetic background music from marching bands, street musicians and radios.
Michael Caine, Jack Nicholson and Roger Moore were considered for the role of the Jackal.
Though the film was not a box office success, it received generally excellent reviews and made Edward Fox much in demand in films and on television.
French president Charles de Gaulle was actually alive when Frederick Forsyth completed his novel in 1970 but died shortly before it was published in 1971.
Michael Caine, who was considered for the role of the Jackal, went on to star in The Fourth Protocol (1987), another adaptation of a Frederick Forsyth novel.
Presumably to avoid confusion with the names of living French people, the fictitious names used by Frederick Forsyth in the novel were replaced by those of famous French historical people: for example, Colbert (Louis XIV's Minister of Marine), Dumont (famous explorer), Berthier (Napoleon Bonaparte's chief of staff).
The first scene filmed was the Jackal's meeting with the OAS members. It took three days to shoot, as Edward Fox was having a hard time getting into the character. It took a long drive with Fred Zinnemann, who assured him it wouldn't harm his career if he didn't get it right since he had been Oscar-nominated, before he finally got the portrayal right.
Casson mentions the Jackal having done "that fellow in the Congo". He probably refers to Patrick Lumumba, the first Congolese president, who was rumored to have been assassinated by a European; this also alludes to Frederick Forsyth's third novel, 'The Dogs of War', which focused on European soldiers (mostly mercenaries) getting involved with African affairs (conflicts commonly) back in the 1960s-70s.
Technical specifications and fold-out diagram for building the actual assassin's rifle are included with the hardcover Franklin Mint special edition of the novel.
There are 31 individual insert shots of clocks in the movie. By contrast, High Noon (1952), also directed by Fred Zinnemann and more directly concerned with the passage of time, contains only 13 insert shots of clocks.
The French government contributed support toward the making of the film, providing soldiers and use of extensive locations for filming throughout the film (and especially the Liberation Day scenes).
The Liberation Day scenes were filmed at a real parade, with most spectators being unaware of a film being shot. This caused a bit of confusion: many of the crowd mistook the arrests being filmed for real ones, and attempted to assist.
When the Jackal looks in the hotel registrar to find out which room Madame de Montpelier is staying in, the names of the production crew for France can be seen: assistant director Louis Pitzele, chief grip René Strasser and set designer Willy Holt.
When the British find the bogus passport request it's mentioned that it was applied for on July 14. That is Bastille Day, a national holiday in France that commemorates the storming of the French prison the Bastille (which signified the start of the French Revolution the end of the Monarchy in France).
Earlier in the film, Colbert exclaims how 960000 Francs got stolen in three weeks by the OAS in a series of robberies. The scene was set on 6th July 1963, 3 weeks after the Jackal met the three OAS men. As in July 1963, the exchange rate between French Francs to the US Dollar was 4.9371 : 1, which when converted stands at $194,447, short of the $250,000 advance money to be paid to the Jackal.
Edward Fox was cast as the Jackal after director Fred Zinnemann was impressed with him in The Go-Between (1970).
One of the Jackal's targets was a man named Trujillo. This is likely Rafael Trujillo, the president of the Dominican Republic, who was considered a tyrant and a dictator and who was assassinated in 1961.
Derek Jacobi (Inspector Caron) went on to star as Klaus Winzer in The Odessa File (1974), another adaptation of a Frederick Forsyth novel.
The visual effect of the Jackal's misfire at De Gaulle (as seen through the sniper scope) was done optically.
Frederick Forsyth wrote the book in the period of 6 weeks.
Michael Lonsdale (Commissioner Lebel) and Delphine Seyrig (Colette Montpillier) only share one scene together, when Lebel interrogates her in her home. Two years after making this film, the two actors portrayed a married couple in the film, "India Song."
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The opening commentary was provided by Barrie Ingham, who also plays Colonel St. Clair in the film.


The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

The policeman who gets gunned down was played by Philippe Léotard, who ironically also died in 2001 on Liberation Day (August 25), the day of the Jackal's attempt.
A scene was filmed where the Jackal shoots the Gunsmith with his custom-made gun (right after the Jackal asks for one explosive bullet from the Gunsmith). This scene was cut so that it would lead smoothly into the Jackal's rifle test in the forest, as well as provide a more interesting dynamic with the previous scenes of the Forger (who was trying to blackmail him and got his neck broken for it).
When the Jackal is shot by Lebel he is seen flying through the air, arms up, having dropped his rifle. However, in the reverse angle shot, the rifle can still be seen in his right hand.
A real-life forger told Frederick Forsyth three possible ways a person can obtain a false identity: apply in false name, steal another man's identity, or bribe an official for an "en blanc" passport and fill in the details. In the film, the Jackal uses all three, but the first was the most effective as it was very straightforward and very simple.

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