The Day of the Jackal (1973) Poster


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  • Following an unsuccessful assassination attempt on the life of French president Charles de Gaulle [1890-1970] (Adrien Cayla-Legrand) in the summer of 1963, the three top members of the Organisation de l'armée secrète (OAS) (English: Secret Army Organization)—Colonel Rodin (Eric Porter), Casson (Denis Carey), and Montclair (David Swift)—hire an English professional assassin known only by the code name Jackal (Edward Fox) to make another attempt on de Gaulle's life. However, the plan is uncovered by French police who send Commissioner Claude Lebel (Michael Lonsdale) to pick up the Jackal's trail. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • The Day of the Jackal is a 1971 novel by English writer Frederick Forsyth. The novel was adapted for the film by Scottish-American screenwriter Kenneth Ross. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • The OAS, along with many French citizens, were enraged by de Gaulle's 1962 decision to grant independence to French Algeria, seeing it as a betrayal to all the French soldiers who lost their lives during the Algerian War. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • The story surrounding the Jackal is fictitious, although the historical background is true. The OAS was a French terrorist group formed after President de Gaulle granted independence to Algeria in 1962. It was made up mostly of French Foreign Legionnaires and French citizens of Algeria (pieds noirs). The group engaged in a vicious campaign of terrorism within Algeria itself, attacking Arabs and clashing with the Algerian FLN, before shifting its focus to de Gaulle. The OAS was involved in over thirty plots against de Gaulle, most of which were scrapped in the planning stages. The assassination attempt depicted at the beginning of the film occurred at Petit-Clamart (a suburb of Paris) on August 22, 1962, and was led by Lt. Colonel Jean-Marie Bastien-Thiry (played in the film by Jean Sorel) of the French Air Force. After the failure of this attempt, Bastien-Thiry was executed, and most other OAS leaders imprisoned. By early 1963, the OAS was effectively neutralized. De Gaulle pardoned most of the surviving leaders in 1969. Frederick Forsyth, the author of the novel, was working as a journalist in Paris during the time the OAS was active. He got the idea for the novel after hearing of the Petit-Clamart shooting and considering how he would go about killing de Gaulle, deciding a contract killer would be the best idea. Shortly after de Gaulle's death, he decided to use this idea for a novel. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • $500,000 (US)—half up-front and the other half after he has killed de Gaulle. At first, Rene Montclair thinks that the Jackal wants 500,000 ₣ (French), which would be about $100,000 or over $700,000 today. The Jackal corrects him and says that he wants $500,000—a lot of money back then, the equivalent of maybe $3.5 million today, allowing for inflation. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Within the context of the film, this cannot be proven either way. In the original novel, however, the gunsmith was left alive by the Jackal, because the Jackal respected him (as opposed to the forger who tried to swindle him) and, perhaps more importantly, because the Gunsmith left evidence that would incriminate the Jackal, should he be killed. In the book, the gunsmith even sympathises with the OAS and the Jackal's objective, as he himself has experienced personal losses due to the independence of Algeria. A scene from the book which is not in the movie has the Jackal returning to the gunsmith a third time, after practicing with his rifle in the book. He spells out the consequences if the gunsmith should ever reveal anything to the authorities; the gunsmith feels slightly offended by the mere suggestion of his treachery. The second scene between the two ends with the Jackal asking the gunsmith for an explosive bullet and wrapping it in a handkerchief; later, he takes a shell out of the handkerchief while practicing. This implies, but does not prove, that the Jackal did not kill the gunsmith. Some viewers claim to have seen an apparently deleted sequence involving the Jackal killing the gunsmith while testing his rifle. These scenes, if they exist, could only have been in early cuts of the film and are not present on any of the existing video, laserdisc, or DVD versions of the film. A similar sequence does appear in the 1997 remake The Jackal (1997), which may be the source of the confusion, where the gunsmith in question is combined with the role of the forger: he is commissioned to build the Jackal a mount for a Gatling gun, and is killed with said gun when he tries to swindle his client out of money. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • As the security preparations are made for the President's appearance at the Liberation Day celebration in Paris, a street guard allows the Jackal, now disguised as an elderly amputee on crutches, to pass through security on the pretext that he lives in a nearby building. The Jackal knocks out a woman living in an apartment overlooking the celebratory plaza, assembles the rifle hidden in his crutches, lines up his sights, and waits. Meanwhile Lebel questions the street guards, looking for anything suspicious. When the guard who let through the elderly amputee informs Lebel of the fact and points out the apartment, which has a window open, Lebel races into the building. As Lebel rushes up the stairs, the Jackal fires just as de Gaulle bends over to kiss the cheek of a Resistance veteran. The Jackal misses. Lebel bursts into the apartment and shoots the Jackal. In the final scene, back in Britain, the real Charles Catlhrop returns to his flat and is confronted by the police. In the final scene, as the authorities wonder who was the real Jackal, Lebel watches as the Jackal's coffin is lowered into an unmarked grave. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • No. In the book, when the Jackal finds the grave of Alexander James Quentin Duggan (Paul Oliver Duggan in the movie), he notes that the boy, who died aged three and a half, was born only a few months before he was, but a later scene where DCI Dixon is comparing Charles Calthrop's passport with the details of Alexander Duggan's shows that Calthrop was born several years earlier. Therefore the Jackal could not have been Calthrop. The novel also featured a scene in which Thomas and Dixon noted and explained away the discrepancies in the descriptions of Duggan and Calthrop (hair dye, lifts in his shoes, tinted contact lenses, etc.); for obvious reasons, the film omitted this sequence. In the movie, the OAS are told that the Jackal killed President Trujillo. Charles Calthrop was in the Dominican Republic at the time and his name was linked to the assassination, but nothing could be proved. In the book, the Jackal may have carried out the Trujillo job and may have been mistaken for Charles Calthrop, but this is not made clear. What is clear is that the Charles Calthrop who turns up at the end of the story is the real Charles Calthrop, and the Special Branch stumbled across the Duggan identity by accident. They didn't even know that the Jackal was an Englishman. Some viewers have wondered why Calthrop's passport had no departure visa from the Dominican Republic, as noted by the British detectives after searching his apartment. While the movie never accounts for this, the book explains that Calthrop, a disreputable arms-dealer, fled the Republic in a private boat. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • The biggest difference is structurally. In the book, Lebel is not put on the case until halfway through, while in the movie he is introduced at the end of the first act (about quarter of the way through). The first half of the book shows the elaborate planning The Jackal takes and how the French slowly uncover the plot. Most of the characters, except for the Jackal himself, get an elaborate personal history in the book, which motivates their choice to side with either the OAS or the French Secret Service. This was largely left out in the movie, although it is briefly suggested in the film that Denise (Jacqueline in the novel) lost her fiancé in the Algerian Liberation war. A subplot in which Kowalski (Wolenski in the movie) is lured into France on the pretence that his daughter is sick was cut and, in the film, Wolenski is simply knocked out while in Genoa.

    The Jackal meets the gunsmith three times, not twice, in Brussels, not Genoa. The second time he is told that the tubes are not ready, so he will have to come back after test firing the gun. The Jackal fires over twenty bullets into the watermelon before using the explosive bullet, and in the movie this has been reduced to just three shots. Lebel is a henpecked husband in the book, but has a beautiful and caring wife in the film. International police forces give Lebel several suggestions for possible Jackals, but they all prove false alarms. The British police are already investigating Charles Calthrop when someone points out the Cha-Cal connection. A meeting between Dixon and the Prime Minister is in the book but happens between scenes in the film. The Baroness leaves the hotel before The Jackal and she is not interviewed by the police. The Jackal tracks her down and stays for several days until she discovers his identity and he ruthlessly kills her. Jacqueline does not find Colonel St. Clair having killed himself: in the novel he simply resigns his post. The Jackal has only one crutch, not two, that contains the component parts of the rifle. The rifle in the book has a triangular stock, but is otherwise the same. The Liberation Day sequence takes up about ten percent of the novel, but almost the entire third act of the film.

    Many other subplots were cut from the novel. A significant amount of time is devoted in the book to the French government's cooperation with the Unione Corse, the Corsican Mafia based in Southern France. The OAS leaders are given considerably more time as they tensely monitor the Jackal's assassination plot, and Wolenski has a much larger role. The British investigation is back-grounded by recent tensions between Britain and France (France had recently rejected Britain's attempt to join the European Economics Union), making Thomas and Dixon's investigation more difficult. In the novel the Jackal picks up Jules Bernard at a gay bar while disguised as Marty Schulberg, an American college student. The movie drops the Schulberg identity and shifts this scene to a Turkish bath. Per Lundqvist, the Jackal's other disguise, was a Danish clergyman in the novel, not a school teacher.

    Although a minor point, the movie altered many characters' names from the book: Kowalski becomes Wolenski, Jacqueline the OAS informant is re-named Denise, Madame Challionare becomes Madame de Montpellier, Per Jensen becomes Per Lundqvist, and Alexander James Quentin Duggan (the deceased child whose identity is used by the Jackal to obtain a false passport) is called Paul Oliver Duggan. Duggan's death certificate, seen briefly in the movie, states that the child died of diphtheria, while in the book he was killed in a road accident. Edit (Coming Soon)


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