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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 12 February 2014
The Day of the Jackal is directed by Fred Zinnerman and adapted to screenplay by Kenneth Ross from the novel of the same name written by Frederick Forsyth. It stars Edward Fox, Michael Lonsdale, Terence Alexander, Michel Auclair, Alan Badel, Tony Britton and Denis Carey. Music is by Georges Delerue and cinematography by Jean Tournier.

As the French political climate reaches boiling point over the Algeria situation, underground organisation the OAS plot to have President Charles de Gaulle assassinated. When an attempt fails the OAS members not caught are exiled in Vienna and decide that bringing in an outsider to kill the President is the best way forward now. That outsider is an Englishman, code name The Jackal, a methodically cunning and deadly assassin…

Wonderful, the kind of character driven thriller that has become in short supply over the decades. It’s all so simple, even sedate, yet this calm approach serves the plotting perfectly. After the initial set ups we follow The Jackal (a super icy turn by Fox) on his mission to kill General de Gaul. His planning, the people he meets, the people he has to kill to stay one step ahead of the authorities. From cons to weapon smuggling, to disguises and sexual encounters, it’s thoroughly compelling from Jackal’s story arc alone, but the frequent shifts to the hunt for him by a whole ream of suits and detectives is also fascinating viewing.

Backing Fox up is a raft quality performers, a cast very much in tune with the material to hand. Delure’s musical composition is purposely of the minimalist breed, Tournier’s photography is period compliant and smooth, while Ralph Kemplen’s excellent editing was rightly nominated for an Academy Award. Zinnerman does sterling work from the director’s chair, amazingly keeping a two and half hour movie free of extraneous scenes or pointless exposition. Everything is relative, it really is a film to stay focussed with, to give it respect by giving it your undivided attention. So go the bathroom before sitting down to view this truly great and smart thriller. 9/10
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on 22 July 2004
Think of the problem here in terms of suspense: "The Day of the Jackal" is the story of meticulous hitman (Edward Fox) who is hired by disgruntled French generals to assassinate French President Charles de Gaulle. But we all know that de Gaulle was NOT assassinated, so how does this film achieve suspense? The answer is: extremely well. This is a superior thriller from the novel by Frederick Forsyth and directed by Fred Zinnemann ("High Noon"), who gives equal weight to the professional preparations of the assassin and the dogged efforts of the French detectives to run down the "Jackal." The audience is placed in the position of actually rooting for both sides as the story develops. The excellent cast includes Michel Lonsdale, Delphine Seyrig, Alan Badel, Cyril Cusack and Derek Jacobi. "The Day of the Jackal" offers an unforgettable conclusion in which you come to the moment you thought was impossible, as the Jackal finally gets de Gaulle in his sights.
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on 8 April 2006
I have just looked at the Day of the Jackal for the umpententh time and it never fails to impress. Edward Fox plays the lead role expertly as the assasain in this outstanding thriller from the pages of Fredrick Forseyth's novel. I thought the book was outstanding but the film portrays the story brilliantly. An edge of your seat experience and one in which you will not be dissapointed.
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on 10 October 2013
Having caught this recently on TV in Hi-Def, I decided to add it to my collection. Firstly, addressing the technical aspects of the DVD itself. This is not anamorphic but is presented in letterbox format. The transfer is grainy but perfectly acceptable for a 40 year old film, although there is clearly a Hi-Def transfer now available to broadcasters, if not to retail. The soundtrack is mono and the extras consist only of the theatrical trailer and production notes. Addressing the film itself, this is one of the finest thrillers ever produced, dealing with an attempt on the life of President Charles de Gualle. It is evenly paced and boasts an excellent cast. Edward Fox's minimalist performance as the Jackal is utterly convincing, but for me it's Michel Lonsdale as Deputy Commisioner Claude Lobel, who steals the film.
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VINE VOICEon 4 March 2004
That we know de Gaulle was not assassinated makes Zinneman's achievement all the more remarkable. This is a film crafted with genius.
He's taken Frederick Forsyth's fine thriller and improved upon it in almost every particular. The plot is more logical, the pace tighter; the characters retain their intense and personal distance (essential for the plot), but are somehow far more human and calculating, and the suspense is palpable.
There have been many cat-and-mouse stories of the detective tracing the criminal, but none so effective. Just to appreciate how good the original is at the art of film-making, compare it to the dire American remake starring Bruce Willis and Richard Gere.
The directorial techniques used are stunningly effective: freeze frame highlights key moments. Silence is used to stunning effect, particularly at the climax which creeps upon the viewer without being signposted by creepy music - big improvement that other directors could do well to note.
The cool ruthlessness of the Jackal is beautifully drawn out by Edward Fox, using the meticulous planning process to tune his character's determination to suceed in the assassination.
By contrast, Michael Lonsdale's detective, burdened by the awesome responsibility of saving France, applies to the task with dogged and passionate determination. That he succeeds is not enough for his own satisfaction - he does not know his enemy, and never really knew who he was chasing.
This film has consistently stayed in my personal top 10 of all time since way back when. DotJ has been accused of being emotionally cold and lacking human warmth, but it strikes exactly the right balance between steely realism and hypothetical retelling of history - one reason why the remake is hokum by comparison!
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 24 May 2012
EDIT: Should probably have said when I first wrote this - just in case there is anyone left on the planet who does not know the story, there is a slight spoiler in here. If you haven't seen it and don't know the story, stop reading!

The mark of a truly great thriller is when you can watch it over and over again and it still grips and entertains - and Day Of The Jackal delivers here in spades. I never tire of watching this film, and every time when the climax is reached, you are left thinking "will he manage it this time?".

Edward Fox is a seriously underrated actor, and the cold-blooded ruthless malevolence he manages to convey through a facade of such quintessentially British genteelness is a real masterpiece.

A truly great piece of story telling from a pre-internet pre-mobiles pre-instant-communication and yet so recent era. Wonderful.
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on 13 April 2012
I agree whole-heartedly with previous reviews that `The Day of the Jackal' is a great suspenseful film. But, contrary to what is noted on the box specifications (and in Amazon specs), this DVD is NOT Widescreen, but 4:3 letterbox (black bars all around, leaving you with a `postage stamp'). I'm deeply disappointed about the misleading information. Guess I will have to wait for a future blu-ray release (but I won't hold my breath for it).
Greetings, Kalliope
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on 16 January 2007
I read somewhere theat Fred Zimmerman, the director of The Day Of The Jackal had toyed with casting Roger Moore in the lead role but plumped for Edward Fox instead. Commercially, Zimmerman was said to regret this decision as Moore, having recently been cast as James Bond and already known to millions in the US and the UK from his roles in The Saint and The Persuaders, was far better known. The decision to cast Fox was taken however precisely because he was less well known, a feature which helps to make the shadowy, anonymous, enigmatic and cold hearted assassin portrayed in the film all the more realistic.

Whilst commercially it might have made sense to cast Moore, critically Fox is the perfect choice for the lead role. His cultured, refined and debonair English Gent portrayal of a highly lethal, dangerous and effective assassin is brilliant. The direction is slick, it never loses pace yet it never drowns the senses in overly fast paced editing or intesne cinematography. The support cast, particularly the excellent Michel Lonsdale and Cyril Cusack are all brilliant. The historical fact of DeGaulle's fate and the inevitability of the outcome do not in the slightest detract from the film as one is not given so much to wondering whether The Jackal will succeed but how such a meticulous, determined and relentless person could not fully succeed.

The most compelling feature about this film however is its style. It borders at times on documentary in its presentation and demonstrates quite rarely in a mainstream film characteristics usually associated with a New Wave movement,- no background music, all the sound seems to be diegetic (actual sound from the filming rather than an artifical soundtrack recorded later) and extensive location work in 'real' settings (note how members of the crowd stare at the actors and at the camera while the scenes at the Liberation Day Parade).

In short, this is one of those films that remain as remarkable nearly forty years after it was made for exactly the same reasons it was remarkable when it was first released. Never betterd in this genre!
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After reading Frederick Forsythe's book I just had to watch the film. Not a scratch on the book, but it does well to capture the overall essence of the book.

The Jackal is a code-name for an assassin who is hired to kill the president of France by a bunch of disgruntled foreign legion members. He is pursued by an astute detective once the plot is discovered, but will he be able to stop the murder from taking place?

Not as gripping as the book, but still a film that will keep your attention throughout. Considering that this film was completed in the early 70's it still has a lot of mileage today. They don't use computers, mobile phones, e-mails, electronic surveillance, CCTV, GPS trackers or re-aligning satellites to get aerial footage - just good old fashioned coppering!
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on 7 July 2007
Why oh why cant they make films like this anymore!
All this hollywood blockbuster rubbish is like watching the output from a sausage production line. Same stories, same direction, same characters, same ridiculously fast frame rates, same annoying background music, where has the film industry gone wrong? What has happened to individuality? Where has the creativity gone?
Any film producers out there please, please, please watch this film!
The characters are not one dimensional like most characters in todays films, they have depth and realism, the camera men do not have st.vitus dance, the film does not jump from one time zone to the other all the time and there is absolutely NO BACKGROUND MUSIC. Why do all modern films have to have distracting music throughout every second of the film. This film has no music in the background at all and this makes it captivating and gives it tension. Background music does not add anything to a film, it takes it away. All the good films have little or no background music.
This film is a masterpiece, every scene is relevant to the story and it never wanders off into aimless subplots or delves into pointless background psycho-babble on why the hard-working cops marriage is struggling because hes so overworked; piffle! How cares, this garbage is just to pad out the film. "The Day of the Jackal" uses none of these pathetic cliches, it is an individual, unique, non-American, brilliantly acted, believable and gripping thriller. The pace is relentless but not manic as with most lesser thrillers, it flows brilliantly and has a European atmosphere that is such a thrill to absorb and so refreshing after enduring the pitiful, wise-cracking, Yankie drivel that Holywood spews out! If there are any film makers out there watch this film and study it in detail. Please observe what you are doing wrong and get your act together. I am saddened to think that despite new technology, which seems to have destroyed modern film making, film producers are incapable of producing films like this. My motto has always been "Special effects maketh not the film" Notice that this film not only has no background music but no special effects either, am I the only one that can see this?
None of the rubbish that is in modern films is in this film at all and yet it's a classic, why? because most modern films are rubbish by comparison.
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