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The Day Of The Jackal [DVD]  
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World-class assassin 'The Jackal' (Edward Fox) is hired by the right-wing OAS to kill France's President De Gaulle. Meanwhile, French police investigator Lebel (Michael Lonsdale) learns of the Jackal from an informer and attempts to piece together the clues to the his identity before it is too late. Directed by Fred Zinnemann, this screen version of Frederick Forsyth's bestseller describes the assassin's preparations and the detective's investigations in precise, methodical detail.
With its high-intensity plot about an attempt to assassinate French President Charles de Gaulle, the bestselling novel by Frederick Forsyth was a prime candidate for screen adaptation. Director Fred Zinnemann brought his veteran skills to bear on what has become a timeless classic of screen suspense. Not to be confused with the later remake The Jackal starring Bruce Willis (which shamelessly embraced all the bombast that Zinnemann so wisely avoided), this 1973 thriller opts for lethal elegance and low-key tenacity in the form of the Jackal, the suave assassin played with consummate British coolness by Edward Fox. He's a killer of the highest order, a master of disguise and international elusiveness, and this riveting film follows his path to de Gaulle with an intense, straightforward documentary style. Perhaps one of the last great films from a bygone age of pure, down-to-basics suspense (and a kind of debonair European alternative to the American grittiness of The French Connection), The Day of the Jackal is a cat-and-mouse thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat until its brilliantly executed final scene (pardon the pun), by which time Fox has achieved cinematic immortality as one of the screen's most memorable killers. --Jeff Shannon --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A Classic best film edward fox ever made. The remake is rubbish compared to original.Published 3 days ago by sky
Some people say it's dated, of course it is, it was made in the 70's about the 60's, very enjoyable.Published 9 days ago by brian
Received on the date; an excellent drama on this original production.Published 26 days ago by Pierre Lebec