The Day of the Jackal is probably my all-time favourite movie, and is the prototype of the long-plot thriller.
As a movie, it shouldn’t work. For a start, the viewer knows that the central aim of the plot, an attempt to assasinate President De Gaulle, will fail, and so that should make any attempt to make it dramatic superflous. No such thing. The plot is so good, so workmanlike in its attention to detail as to how one would go about planning to assasinate a major world figure as to be almost voyeuristic.
Edward Fox is excellent as the ice cool hitman, and Michel Lonsdale (Who would later find fame as Hugo Drax in Moonraker) is superb as the unkempt but intellectually razor sharp Commissioner Label, the police officer tasked with finding the Jackal in time.
The film is crammed with stalwarts of British television, including our own Cyril Cusack doing his usual “umming and ahhhing”.
Aside from the plot, early 1970s France looks fabulous in it, and one of the great ironies of the movie is that despite starring Edward Fox and based on the novel written by Frederick Forsyth, two ardent eurosceptics, it is a textbook case for why Europe needs greater integration of its police forces!
It’s also well worth reading Forsyth’s original novel as well, again if only for the attention to detail.