Fred Zinnemann’s film of The Day of the Jackal is a patient, studied and quasi-documentary translation of Frederick Forsyth’s big-selling political suspense novel. Film appeals more to the intellect than the brute senses as it traces the detection of an assassin hired to kill French President Charles de Gaulle.
The recruitment of Edward Fox as the assassin and his planning of the murder is a sort of carrier frequency for the story. Around this is the mobilization of French and other national law enforcement agencies to discover and foil the plot. The final confluence of the plot lines is somewhat brief and anti-climactic.
The major asset of the film is that it succeeds in maintaining interest and suspense despite obvious viewer foreknowledge of the outcome.
Fox does very well as the innocent-looking youth who plans his stalk with meticulous care.
1973: Nomination: Best Editing