The Day of the Jackal (1973)

PG | 141-143 mins | Drama | May 1973

Director:

Fred Zinnemann

Writer:

Kenneth Ross

Producer:

John Woolf

Cinematographer:

Jean Tournier

Editor:

Ralph Kemplen

Production Companies:

Warwick Film Productions, Ltd., Universal Pictures
Full page view
HISTORY

The title credit card reads: “Fred Zinnemann’s film of The Day of the Jackel .” Prior to the opening credits, the film begins with an image of the Cross of Lorraine, the symbol of the Forces Françaises Libres (Free French Forces), which were led by Charles de Gaulle’s government in exile in 1940 during the occupation of France by Germany in World War II. A hand drawn “hangman” figure then appears, with de Gaulle in the noose. The letters OAS are then superimposed as an unknown narrator explains in voice-over the formation of the group, the Organisation Armée Secrète (Secret Army Organization). The group was made up primarily of French army officers unhappy that the de Gaulle government granted Algeria independence in 1962. The opening credits commence as an OAS-led assassination attempt on de Gaulle occurs. When the narration resumes describing the attack and the subsequent arrests, it is spoken by actor Michel Lonsdale, who portrays deputy police detective “Commissaire Claude Lebel.”
       As shown in the film’s opening sequence, on 22 Aug 1962, in the Paris suburb of Petit-Clamart, the OAS conducted a failed attempt on the life of French president Charles de Gaulle in response to the successful referendum of self-determination for Algeria the previous month. As depicted, the president’s automobile and security escorts were sprayed with machine gun fire from three positions, but no one was injured. The attack led, as shown in the film, to the arrest and execution of the plot’s organizer, Lt. Col. Jean-Marie Bastien-Thiry, in Mar 1963.
       The file on the film in the Fred Zinnemann Collection at the AMPAS library ... More Less

The title credit card reads: “Fred Zinnemann’s film of The Day of the Jackel .” Prior to the opening credits, the film begins with an image of the Cross of Lorraine, the symbol of the Forces Françaises Libres (Free French Forces), which were led by Charles de Gaulle’s government in exile in 1940 during the occupation of France by Germany in World War II. A hand drawn “hangman” figure then appears, with de Gaulle in the noose. The letters OAS are then superimposed as an unknown narrator explains in voice-over the formation of the group, the Organisation Armée Secrète (Secret Army Organization). The group was made up primarily of French army officers unhappy that the de Gaulle government granted Algeria independence in 1962. The opening credits commence as an OAS-led assassination attempt on de Gaulle occurs. When the narration resumes describing the attack and the subsequent arrests, it is spoken by actor Michel Lonsdale, who portrays deputy police detective “Commissaire Claude Lebel.”
       As shown in the film’s opening sequence, on 22 Aug 1962, in the Paris suburb of Petit-Clamart, the OAS conducted a failed attempt on the life of French president Charles de Gaulle in response to the successful referendum of self-determination for Algeria the previous month. As depicted, the president’s automobile and security escorts were sprayed with machine gun fire from three positions, but no one was injured. The attack led, as shown in the film, to the arrest and execution of the plot’s organizer, Lt. Col. Jean-Marie Bastien-Thiry, in Mar 1963.
       The file on the film in the Fred Zinnemann Collection at the AMPAS library provides the following information on the production: In May 1971 author Frederick Forsyth completed a screenplay adaptation of his best-selling novel The Day of the Jackal . Kenneth Ross, who received sole onscreen credit for the screenplay, was later hired to do an adaptation, the first draft of which was completed in Dec 1971. Correspondence files indicate that as early as Aug 1971, Universal Pictures hoped to cast a well-known American actor in the lead role of “The Jackal,” despite Zinnemann’s plan to cast largely unknowns. Zinnemann nevertheless agreed to meet with Robert Redford at Universal’s recommendation. Although Jack Nicholson was also suggested by the studio and flown to Europe to meet the director, Zinnemann had already viewed tests of his eventual choice, English actor Edward Fox. Due to stipulations in the Anglo-French production agreement, it was ultimately decided that only English and French actors would be cast for all roles.
       Other British actors considered for the lead role were David McCallum, Ian Richardson and Michael York. Jacqueline Bisset was offered the role of “Denise” but a conflict in scheduling and salary demands led to her turning down the part. A Mar 1972 DV news item indicated that Romulus Films, which had been founded by producer John Woolf in the early 1950s, would be producing the adaptation of The Day of the Jackal , but his company is listed in no other contemporary sources.
       The Day of the Jackal marked the first release in seven years for director Zinnemann, whose previous film had been the 1966 Columbia production A Man for All Seasons . Filmfacts noted Zinnemann had then spent four years working on a film project entitled Man’s Fate for M-G-M , but three days before commencing principal photography, the company’s new president canceled the film. The Day of the Jackal marked the first English-speaking role for French actor Lonsdale, who had appeared in a bit part in Zinnemann’s 1964 Columbia release Behold a Pale Horse . The Day of the Jackal was shot on location in Vienna, Rome, Genoa, Nice, Paris and London with interiors at Studios de Bollogne in France and Pinewood Studios, England. The Day of the Jackal ’s Los Angeles premiere benefited the UCLA Inter-nation Student Center. The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Film Editing.
       The film adaptation of The Day of the Jackal differed from the Forsyth novel primarily in that the book included additional sequences and identities for the Jackal, some of which were included in a 1996 adaptation of the novel, The Jackal , directed by by Michael Caton-Jones and starring Bruce Willis. According to numerous articles in Oct 1996, Zinnemann, Forsyth and Woolf protested and threatened an injunction against Universal Pictures for their plan to make a film “inspired” by The Day of the Jackal , but shifting the story to concern a Russian mafia plot to assassinate the U.S. president while retaining the title of the Forsyth book and original film. Edward Fox was reportedly offered a small role in the new film and refused. A Nov 1996 DV article indicated that Universal had agreed to rename the project The Jackal , which was released the following year and credited Forsyth’s novel as its source.
       ”The Jackal” became the sobriquet of one of the world’s most wanted criminals, Illich Ramirez Sanchez. Sanchez, a mercenary assassin nicknamed “Carlos” and a long-time member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was dubbed “Carlos the Jackal” when a copy of Forsyth’s book was found amongst his personal effects. As alluded to in both the book and the film, Carlos’ name has been linked to the assassination of Rafael Trujillo, former president and political strongman of the Dominican Republic for many years.
       Modern sources add to the cast: Féodor Atkine, Jean Champion, Max Faulkner, Robert Favart, Andréa Ferréol, Gilberte Géniat, David Kernan, Robert Le Béal, Bernard Musson, Howard Vernon, Nicholas Young. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
28 May 1973
p. 4594.
Daily Variety
10 Mar 1972.
---
Daily Variety
26 Nov 1996
p. 1, 20.
Filmfacts
1973
pp. 81-85.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jun 1972
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jun 1972.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Oct 1972
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jan 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 May 1973.
---
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
18 May 1973.
---
Los Angeles Times
13 May 1973.
---
Los Angeles Times
28 Oct 1996
Section F, p. 1, 12.
New York Times
30 Jan 1972.
---
New York Times
17 May 1973
p. 53.
The Observer (London)
20 Oct 1996.
---
Variety
7 Jun 1972.
---
Variety
14 Jun 1972.
---
Variety
16 May 1973
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Fred Zinnemann Film; A John Woolf Prouction
A John Woolf Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
Asst dir, France
Asst dir, England
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Co-prod
Co-prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
Cam op, France
Cam op, England
2d unit photog
2d unit photog
Chief elec, France
Chief elec, England
Chief grip, France
Chief grip, England
ART DIRECTOR
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set des, France
Set des, England
Set dressing, France
Set dressing, England
Prop master, France
Prop master, England
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost des
Cost supv
Miss Seyrig's clothes
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
VISUAL EFFECTS
Visual eff
Spec eff, France
Spec eff, England
Spec eff, England
MAKEUP
Hairdresser, France
Hairdresser, England
PRODUCTION MISC
Script ed
Casting dir
Casting dir
Prod mgr, France
Prod mgr, England
Cont, France
Cont, England
Prod secy, France
Prod secy, England
Unit pub
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth (London, 1971).
DETAILS
Release Date:
May 1973
Premiere Information:
Premiere in Los Angeles: 17 May 1973
New York opening: 16 May 1973
Production Date:
1 June--14 October 1972 at Studios de Boulogne, Paris, France and Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, England
Vienna, Rome, Genoa, Nice, Paris and London
Copyright Claimants:
Warwick Film Productions, Ltd. Universal Productions France, S.A.
Copyright Dates:
17 May 1973 17 May 1973
Copyright Numbers:
LP43786 LP43786
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
Technicolor
Lenses/Prints
LTC
Duration(in mins):
141-143
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
United Kingdom, France, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In August 1962, after France grants Algeria independence, disgruntled members of the French military in the extremist underground group called the OAS make an unsuccessful assassination attempt on President Charles de Gaulle. The botched plot results in the arrest and trial of several top OAS members and the execution of organizer Lt. Col. Jean-Marie Bastien-Thiry in March 1963. New OAS leader Col. Marc Rodin and the group’s top two officials, Rene Montclair and Andre Casson, go into hiding in Austria and, at Rodin’s suggestion, agree on contracting a foreign assassin for their next attempt on de Gaulle. The men then meet with a highly credentialed British assassin, who confirms that it is possible to kill de Gaulle despite his extremely tight security. Although Montclair and Casson are indignant when the assassin sets his fee at half a million American dollars, Rodin agrees to his price. The assassin insists that only he and the three men know of the deal and requests half of the payment deposited in advance into his Swiss bank account. Declaring that he will reveal no details of his plot to anyone, the assassin asks only that a telephone contact be provided for regular updates on de Gaulle’s movements. When a stunned Montclair asks how they can raise the enormous amount of money, the assassin recommends using the OAS network to rob banks. As the guard, Adjutant Victor Wolenski, prepares to escort the man to the lift, Rodin asks for the assassin’s code name and the man suggests “Jackal.” Over the next several days, numerous banks all over France are robbed, alerting French security, which soon ... +


In August 1962, after France grants Algeria independence, disgruntled members of the French military in the extremist underground group called the OAS make an unsuccessful assassination attempt on President Charles de Gaulle. The botched plot results in the arrest and trial of several top OAS members and the execution of organizer Lt. Col. Jean-Marie Bastien-Thiry in March 1963. New OAS leader Col. Marc Rodin and the group’s top two officials, Rene Montclair and Andre Casson, go into hiding in Austria and, at Rodin’s suggestion, agree on contracting a foreign assassin for their next attempt on de Gaulle. The men then meet with a highly credentialed British assassin, who confirms that it is possible to kill de Gaulle despite his extremely tight security. Although Montclair and Casson are indignant when the assassin sets his fee at half a million American dollars, Rodin agrees to his price. The assassin insists that only he and the three men know of the deal and requests half of the payment deposited in advance into his Swiss bank account. Declaring that he will reveal no details of his plot to anyone, the assassin asks only that a telephone contact be provided for regular updates on de Gaulle’s movements. When a stunned Montclair asks how they can raise the enormous amount of money, the assassin recommends using the OAS network to rob banks. As the guard, Adjutant Victor Wolenski, prepares to escort the man to the lift, Rodin asks for the assassin’s code name and the man suggests “Jackal.” Over the next several days, numerous banks all over France are robbed, alerting French security, which soon ascertains OAS involvement. During the same period, the Jackal, who has returned to England, puts together his plot, researching de Gaulle and concocting a forged birth certificate using the records of a dead child, Paul Oliver Duggan. The Jackal applies for a passport under the name of Duggan and later at the airport steals the passport of a Danish school teacher, Per Lundquist, who matches the Jackal’s physique. After notification from his bank that a quarter of a million dollars has been deposited, the Jackal receives a phone number and the name of OAS contact Valmy. Traveling as Duggan, the Jackal leaves England. Meanwhile in Paris, chief of the Security Action Service Col. Rolland reports to army Gen. Colbert on recent OAS movements, revealing that Rodin, Montclair, Casson and eight of their guards have settled in the top two floors of a small hotel in Rome. Rolland explains that the only member of the group to appear in public is Wolenski, who visits the post office twice daily. At the same time, an OAS agent contacts Denise, the fiancée of a dead OAS officer, to assign her the job of infiltrating the French ministry to keep tabs on de Gaulle’s security. Arriving in Genoa, the Jackal meets with gunsmith Gozzi to request a customized, lightweight, powerful rifle that can be easily disassembled and hidden in a metal tube. Later, a few blocks away, the Jackal meets with a forger to arrange for a false French identity card and other identification papers. Having given Gozzi and the forger two weeks to complete their tasks, the Jackal travels to Paris where he explores particular neighborhoods and monuments. Scouting a particular block, the Jackal overhears an elderly landlady stating that most of her tenants have left the building for the annual summer holiday. The Jackal sneaks into the building’s office and makes a wax imprint of a key to a top floor apartment. Later at an outdoor market, the Jackal purchases an old suit, a beret and several WWII medals. Frustrated by the police’s inability to further their investigation of the OAS arranged robberies, Colbert orders Wolenski’s kidnapping. Within days, Wolenski is brought to France where under torture he reveals the name “Jackal.” Soon after in a park, Denise contrives to meet Col. St. Clair, a minister in the Elysée Palace. In a report to the Minister of the Interior, Rolland declares his suspicion that the OAS has contracted a foreign assassin, possibly called Jackal, to make another attempt on de Gaulle. In mid-August, the Jackal returns to Genoa to retrieve the gun from Gozzi. When the Jackal visits the forger to pick up the identity papers, the man demands more money to turn over the negatives of the Jackal’s pictures and the Jackal kills him and hides the body in a trunk. Meanwhile, after meeting with de Gaulle, the Minister summons the nation’s security heads, including St. Clair, to an emergency meeting to discuss the implications of Rolland’s report. The Minister informs the others that the president has refused to alter his late summer schedule and insists that the investigation of the suspected plot be carried out in total secrecy. Police Commissioner Bertier points out that without a crime and without knowing the identity of the Jackal, there is no one to arrest and nothing for Security Action Services to do, yet recommends placing the department’s best detective, Deputy Commissaire Claude Lebel, on the case. Lebel is summoned to the meeting and after the briefing meets with Bertier to request detective Lucien Caron as his assistant. Within hours the pair has arranged telephone conferences with the security heads of numerous countries, including Scotland Yard in England. That same evening, Denise, who has seduced St. Clair and moved into his apartment while his wife and children are on holiday, discovers the details of his late night meeting and telephones Valmy to report that the government knows about the Jackal. At Lebel’s request, Scotland Yard’s Assistant Commissioner Mallinson grudgingly orders an investigation of British assassins, assigning associate Brian Thomas to the job. Thomas is soon summoned by the Prime Minister and informed that security must make every effort to assist France if there is any possibility that a British subject is involved with an assassination plot. On information from an associate in the foreign office, Thomas learns that the 1961 assassination of Dominican Republic strongman Rafael Trujillo was linked to British citizen Charles Harold Calthrop. Meanwhile, in Italy, after testing the rifle, the Jackal solders the steel tube holding the gun to the undercarriage of his Alfa Romeo convertible. When Scotland Yard searches the apartment of the absent Calthrop and finds his passport, Lebel concludes that he is using another and requests that the British examine passport applications from the past three months. As the weary agents finally discover that the Duggan passport is linked to a dead person, the Jackal drives across the French border as Duggan without incident. Despite learning from Valmy that French security is aware of him, the Jackal purposely proceeds toward Paris. Upon checking into a posh hotel in the town of Gap, the Jackal flirts with and soon seduces Baroness Colette de Montpillier, spending the night in her room. Learning that Duggan has crossed the border, Lebel chafes that the secrecy restriction forces them to wait for receipt of hotel tourist registration cards. Despite discovering “Duggan’s” location the next morning, by the time Lebel and his men arrive at the hotel, the Jackal has checked out. Informed by Valmy that the police have a description of his car, the Jackal steals a license plate and in the forest, spray paints the convertible blue. From details gathered from the hotel staff, Lebel helicopters to Colette’s estate to question her about her brief association with the Jackal, but Colette can convey very little information. Resuming his journey, the Jackal is run off the road by a Mercedes and after taking the gun tube and his bags, abandons the wrecked Alfa and commandeers the Mercedes, then drives on to Colette’s estate. That evening in bed, Colette relates Lebel's visit to the Jackal, who strangles her. The Jackal then assumes the identity of Lundquist and after disposing of all the items associated with Duggan, catches a train from Tulle to Paris. Later that afternoon, Caron informs Lebel of Colette’s murder, which releases the police from continuing in secrecy. After ascertaining the names of the few passengers who boarded the Paris train in Tulle, Lebel confirms the Jackal’s Lundquist identity. In Paris, the Jackal visits a Turkish bath where he allows himself to be picked up by homosexual Jules Bernard, who invites him to his apartment. That evening, making his daily report to the Minister and security heads, Lebel states that he has concluded that the Jackal has had inside information allowing him to keep one step ahead of the investigation. Outraged by the implication, the Minister protests until Lebel plays a tape recording of Denise conveying information to Valmy from St. Clair’s phone. St. Clair acknowledges his inadvertent connection and, apologizing, departs. Lebel then realizes the Jackal has timed his arrival in Paris to coincide with that Sunday’s Liberation Day celebration. Returning to St. Clair’s apartment, Denise discovers he has committed suicide and she is promptly arrested. At the next ministry meeting, Lebel provides a picture of “Lundquist” but, now able to proceed openly with the investigation as a murder case, the Minister thanks Lebel and dismisses him. When Bernard tells the Jackal he has seen his picture on a television monitor on the way home from work, the Jackal kills him. Unable to find any trace of the Jackal, the Minister summons Lebel, but the detective can only join the huge security contingent put in place for the following day’s celebrations. At dawn, Lebel wanders over the ceremony sites, and as the crowds gather and parades commence, he keeps continual watch. De Gaulle arrives to participate in various observances while the Jackal, dressed as an elderly one-legged WWII veteran, makes his way to the nearly empty apartment building. After killing the landlady, the Jackal goes to the top floor apartment where he removes the rifle hidden in his crutches and sets up at a window overlooking the veterans’ medal ceremony. As de Gaulle arrives, Lebel by chance speaks with a gendarme near the apartment building and learning of the one-legged veteran, rushes into the building with the policeman. As the men race up the stairs, the Jackal takes aim at the president, who bends to kiss the medal recipient just as the Jackal fires. Startled by the unexpected miss, the Jackal immediately reloads as the gendarme and Lebel shoot their way into the apartment. The Jackal shoots the gendarme but as he frantically reloads, Lebel takes the machine gun and kills him. Soon after, when Charles Calthrop returns to London from his holiday, he startles the policemen searching his flat but is soon cleared by Scotland Yard. As the Jackal receives an anonymous burial in France with only Lebel in attendance, in England, Thomas and Mallinson, relieved that the Jackal’s British identity remains unconfirmed, wonder who he was. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.