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The Day of the Jackal (1973)

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A professional assassin codenamed "Jackal" plots to kill Charles de Gaulle, the President of France.


Fred Zinnemann


Frederick Forsyth (book), Kenneth Ross (screenplay)
3,920 ( 1,640)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 10 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Edward Fox ... The Jackal
Terence Alexander ... Lloyd
Michel Auclair ... Colonel Rolland
Alan Badel ... The Minister
Tony Britton Tony Britton ... Inspector Thomas
Denis Carey Denis Carey ... Casson
Adrien Cayla-Legrand Adrien Cayla-Legrand ... The President
Cyril Cusack ... The Gunsmith
Maurice Denham Maurice Denham ... General Colbert
Vernon Dobtcheff ... The Interrogator
Jacques François ... Pascal (as Jacques Francois)
Olga Georges-Picot ... Denise
Raymond Gérôme Raymond Gérôme ... Flavigny (as Raymond Gerome)
Barrie Ingham ... St. Clair
Derek Jacobi ... Caron


It is the early 60s in France. The remaining survivors of the aborted French Foreign Legion have made repeated attempts to kill DeGaulle. The result is that he is the most closely guarded man in the world. As a desperate act, they hire The Jackal, the code name for a hired killer who agrees to kill French President De Gaulle for half a million dollars. We watch his preparations which are so thorough we wonder how he could possibly fail even as we watch the French police attempt to pick up his trail. The situation is historically accurate. There were many such attempts and the film closely follows the plot of the book. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Fred Zinnemann's film of... See more »


Crime | Drama | Thriller


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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UK | France


English | Italian | French

Release Date:

30 July 1973 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Chacal See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


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. See more »


The 1st shot at de Gaulle is a miss, but there is no ricochet sound from the bullet off the pavement that certainly would have startled him or his security force. See more »


[first lines]
Commentator: August 1962 was a stormy time for France. Many people felt that President Charles de Gaulle had betrayed the country by giving independence to Algeria. Extremists, mostly from the Army, swore to kill him in revenge. They banded together in an underground movement, and called themselves the OAS.
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Crazy Credits

The closing credits roll over a lion statue at the Élysée Palace, the residence of the President of France. See more »


References Moulin Rouge (1952) See more »


Colonel Bogey March
(1914) (uncredited)
Music by Kenneth Alford
Played by an accordionist
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Iconic assassination thriller spawning faux-doc aesthetic
16 November 2009 | by FramescourerSee all my reviews

An echt-1973 movie. There are plenty of them in this year; films which seem to belch belligerent independence from the screen. From an virtual unknown in the title role and unmodulated (if implicit) scenes of homosexuality, to daring to run for over 2 hours largely without music, this is another exhilarating winner from this richest of movie years.

I think what I like most about the film is its pace. The economy with which Zinneman tells the story is stripped right down. There is no patronising voice-over or script-embedded exposition. Consequently, those moments where we're not entirely sure what's happening act as moments of suspense, not so much twists as notches in the grain of the plot. It's a wonderful, organic piece of thriller-narrative film-making.

Edward Fox is as horribly calculating and driven as Zinneman could possibly have hoped, really compounding the cad of The Go-Between that hastened his casting. Michael Lonsdale's pursuing detective Lebel is brilliantly understated as his humble doppelganger. It amuses me to think what Lebel would have made of his extrovert contemporary Jimmy Doyle in the second French Connection film! The smattering of oh-so familiar British acting talent also invest the long list of tropes with real character - there is a super, unobtrusive sense of ennui, pride, professionalism and mordant humour even in the briefest of exchanges. No doubt the naturalism of location and non-acting extras rubbed off on the pros. I also feel inclined to mention the marvellous performance of Delphine Seyrig, managing function, beauty and pathos in her 2 1/2 short scenes as Madame de Montpellier.

For all that the cast understand the nature of the film and inhabit it so fluently, it's Zinneman's attention to all the detail that's so satisfying. There are more wonderful location views than in any Bond film but shot with a marvellous photographer's sense of their innate value - they are not presented for the viewer like trophies. I cannot imagine that Paul Greengrass, our contemporaneous master of shaky-cam action-thriller realism cannot have absorbed the well-executed 'verité' of this film as an early initiation of his own art. I also admire one or two of the stunts. Above all, I simply love the Liberation Day set piece which is almost symphonic in its editing construction, crescending masterfully into the long-awaiting climax of this fantastic film. 9/10

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