Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Day of the Jackal (second review, 2017)

(UK, France, 1973)

Book and movie are both masterpieces, among the best thrillers I have ever read or seen. Frederick Forsyth worked a miracle here. How do you tell the story of an attempted assassination of Charles De Gaulle, when you know it didn’t work? By almost fanatical attention to detail, that’s how. We track the Jackal (a perfect performance by Edward Fox) from his hiring through all his amazing preparations, and begin to wonder, just how the hell could this go wrong? He is the perfect killing machine, but he does it with subtlety. The director, Fred Zinneman, took advantage of a huge Liberation Day parade in Paris to put his actors right into the real world, and was granted unprecedented access to indoor and outdoor locations. There is great supporting work by all involved, particularly Michael Lonsdale as the dogged cop assigned to stop the Jackal, without increasing security! De Gaulle wouldn’t have it, which is I think right in character for the pompous twit.

A word of warning: Whatever you do, do not confuse this with the horrible piece of shit remake starring Bruce Willis. Forsyth refused to let his name be associated with it, and he and Zinneman insisted that they could not use “The Day of,” calling it merely The Jackal. Avoid it at all costs.