Monday 13 February 2012

The Day of the Jackal [1973]

The book by master storyteller Frederick Forsythe ranks among the most compelling and popular spy thrillers ever written in mainstream literature. Fred Zinnemann’s adaptation of the bestselling novel did considerable justice to it by being nearly as engaging and immaculate in its detailing. It was also imbued with European sensibilities, viz. stylishness, slow buildup and exquisite pacing, as opposed to the kind of ‘slam-bam’ and frenetic pacing most American thrillers are equated with. The film, like the book, has two parallel narratives – the first concerns with the preparations and the subsequent activities carried out by a mysterious and ruthless lone-wolf contract killer code-named ‘Jackal’ (played by Edward Fox) who has been hired to assassinate French President Charles De Gaulle; the second deals with the frantic investigation being carried in the dark by the resourceful French police detective Lebel (Michel Lonsdale) in order to track down the nameless and faceless assassin. The way in which the identity of the Jackal is pieced together by Lebel and the British police is worth beholding, and it has been wonderfully juxtaposed with the brilliant planning and one-track agenda of the cold-blooded chameleon-like assassin with a chilling smile. On-location shoots added to the film’s visceral quotient.

Director: Fred Zinnemann
Genre: Thriller/Political Thriller
Language: English
Country: UK/France


Chris said...

Just got that film on dvd, a childhood fav of mine. Even though I know what is going to happen, somehow it remains suspenseful on repeat viewings. I hope to review The Day of the Jackal when I have the time.
Not a novel that I ever read, sounds like you loved the book?

I just gave you the Liebster blog award, because your blog is great.
Head over to my blog to find out what I said about you ( :

pk said...

great review. There are a lot of tight, politically charged thrillers from those years that have aged very well. Costa Gavras' Z, and Bertolucci's Il Conformista which you also reviewed. I can't think of many modern equals.

Shubhajit said...


Yes, the novel by Frederick Forsythe was a great read, and I'd recommend it to you - more so because you liked the movie so much.

Thanks a lot for the award. I'm on my way to your blog :)

Shubhajit said...


Yes, I agree that this movie has aged well. Il Conformista ranks as one of my favourite movies, though unfortunately I haven't seen Z yet - need to correct that sooner rather than later.