219 user 68 critic

The Day of the Jackal (1973)

2:03 | Trailer
A professional assassin codenamed "Jackal" plots to kill Charles de Gaulle, the President of France.


Fred Zinnemann


Frederick Forsyth (book), Kenneth Ross (screenplay)
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 ... Inspector Thomas
Denis Carey Denis Carey ... Casson
Adrien Cayla-Legrand Adrien Cayla-Legrand ... The President
Cyril Cusack ... The Gunsmith
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


Nameless, faceless... relentlessly moving towards the date with death that would rock the world. See more »


Crime | Drama | Thriller


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


According to Sir Roger Moore, producer John Woolf wanted him to play the Jackal, but director Fred Zinnemann refused Moore as he was too famous an actor.

Moore would later face off against Michael Lonsdale (Claude Lebel) in Moonraker (1979). See more »


(at around 5 mins) In the shooting at the Petit Clamart ambush the lower part of the rear window of the presidential limousine is shattered and falls to pieces, but when the car arrives at the airport the rear window, though badly cracked, is still largely in place. 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 Cross of Lorraine, a symbol General Charles de Gaulle used during his lifetime, appears at the beginning of the film. See more »


Referenced in Unforgettable: Day of the Jackie (2013) See more »


Marche Lorraine
Composed by Louis Ganne
[Heard during the Liberation Day parade in Paris]
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User Reviews

Coldly efficient like it's central character
22 November 2010 | by Red-BarracudaSee all my reviews

Much like the novel from which it was based on, The Day of the Jackal is a detailed, compelling and cold thriller. Frederick Forsyth has never been an author who imbues his characters with much humanity or depth; he is much more adept with presenting technical and political aspects in fine detail. This served him very well in the case of The Day of the Jackal, a novel that not only was detailed in these ways, but also was primarily about a cold calculated professional killer, whose lack of depth or real identity was actually a positive for the story. In other words this story was perfectly suited to Forsyth's style.

For those who don't know, the film is set in 1963 and is about a French right-wing political group who want president Chares de Gaulle assassinated because of his decision to grant Algeria independence. They hire a professional killer with no ties to them to carry out the difficult task.

Edward Fox plays the titular character with the requisite cold efficiency required. He is very much an anti-hero, as while he does murder some innocent people he is also the only figure in the film to really get behind. The French authorities are shown to not be slow to use brutal methods on their enemies themselves, while the two policemen assigned to the case are so lacking in charisma that it's just very hard to get behind them in their pursuit of the villain. If there is a fault with the film it must surely be that we as viewers are drawn to the Jackal and his against-all-odds mission - I think most people want him to succeed – and I'm not entirely sure this is what the film-makers actually intended.

The period detail and French locations are lovely, so cinematically this is a very attractive looking film. It's well-paced and direct with no wastage. We never get into the Jackal character's head ourselves as viewers, there is a definite distance and we don't always immediately know why he does certain things. This only adds to the compelling voyeurism of watching him on his deadly mission. Despite the genre, there is a definite restraint shown in the depictions of violence. It's often implied or shown just off-screen. The focus of the film is very much on the way in which the assassin navigates through his mission via different methods of subterfuge. The film could not be further away in style from the laughable 90's remake The Jackal, a film that seems to do everything in an opposite way.

The Day of the Jackal is overall an excellent political thriller that combines intelligence with a gripping narrative. It shows how this kind of material should be presented on screen, where less can absolutely be more. The way that it always stays within the realm of the plausible is one of its strongest suits too. All this combined with its enigmatic central villain make it a superlative film.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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UK | France


English | Italian | French

Release Date:

30 July 1973 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Day of the Jackal See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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