|The Day of the Jackal is a masterful procedural.|
Directed by Fred Zinnemann
Produced by John Woolf
Written by Kenneth Ross (screenplay); Frederick Forsyth (book)
Starring Edward Fox, Terence Alexander and Michael Lonsdale
Plot Summary: A nameless assassin (the Jackal) is hired to kill French president Charles de Gaulle.
Significance: Generally considered one of the best political thrillers ever made, the film received multiple BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations, including Best Picture at both, respectively. It also received an Oscar nomination for Best Film Editing. In 1997, a loose remake called The Jackal was made starring Bruce Willis and Richard Gere.
Thoughts: This engrossing procedural is a first-rate political thriller, akin to classics like Army of Shadows and Three Days of the Condor. Like some incarnations of the genre, the film takes its time, but at nearly two and a half hours, it’s a riveting watch. It’s a well-crafted nail-biter that features a solid ensemble and (deservedly) Oscar-nominated work by editor Ralph Kemplen, who doesn’t let the film feel too bulky or convoluted. On the whole, the film is more about the sum of its parts, though director Fred Zinnemann and stars Edward Fox and Michael Lonsdale deserve praise for making it seem so easy. If you like ’70s thrillers, this somewhat undervalued classic is a must-see.