The Day of the Jackal (film)

1973 film by Fred Zinnemann

The Day of the Jackal is a 1973 film about a professional assassin codenamed "Jackal" who plots to kill Charles de Gaulle, the President of France.

Directed by Fred Zinnemann. Written by Kenneth Ross, based on the the novel by Frederick Forsyth.
Nameless, faceless...relentlessly moving towards the date with death that would rock the world. taglines

The Jackal

  • This is a once in a lifetime job. Whoever does it can never work again.


Col. Rodin: We are not terrorists, you understand. We are patriots. Our duty is to the soldiers who've died fighting in Algeria, and to the three million French citizens who have always lived there.
The Jackal: And so you want to get rid of him.
Col. Rodin: [after a pause] Speaking as a professional, do you think it's possible?
The Jackal: It's possible. The point is getting away with it. And speaking as a professional, that's a very important consideration.

The Jackal: You see, gentlemen, not only have your own efforts failed, but you've rather queered the pitch for everyone else.
Casson: How dare you suggest that?
The Jackal: In this work you simply can't afford to be emotional. That's why you've made so many mistakes.
Col. Rodin: But if we decided to employ a professional...
The Jackal: You have to employ a professional. Your organization is so riddled with informants that nothing you decide is a secret for long.

The Jackal: Half a million. In cash. Half in advance, and half on completion.
Montclair: Half a million francs?
The Jackal: Dollars.
Montclair: Are you mad?
The Jackal: Considering you expect to get France in return, I'd have thought it a reasonable price.

The Jackal: How many people know about this?
Rodin: Just the four of us.
The Jackal: Let's keep it that way. This job depends on absolute secrecy. No notes must be kept. If any one of you is captured, I shall feel free to call it off. I suggest you go somewhere and remain there under heavy guard until the job is done. Agreed?
Rodin: Agreed.
The Jackal: The planning will be mine. Here's the number of my account in Switzerland. When I receive word that the first $250,000 has been deposited, I'll move - provided I'm ready. But I'll not be hurried or interfered with in any way.
Rodin: Agreed.

The Gunsmith: Over what range will you fire?
The Jackal: I'm not sure yet but probably not more than 400 feet.
The Gunsmith: Will the gentleman be moving?
The Jackal: Stationary.
The Gunsmith: Will you go for a head shot or a chest shot?
The Jackal: Probably head.
The Gunsmith: What about the chance of a second shot?
The Jackal: Well I might get the chance but I doubt it. In any event I'll need a silencer to escape.
The Gunsmith: In that case you'd better have explosive bullets. I can prepare a handful along with the gun.
The Jackal: Glycerin or mercury?
The Gunsmith: Oh mercury... much cleaner.

Minister: Commissioner Berthier, any suggestions?
Berthier: We're in trouble on this one. Our agents inside the OAS can't pin him down, since not even the OAS knows who he is. Action Service can't destroy him; they don't know who to destroy. The gendarmes, all forty-eight thousand of them, can't pursue him; they don't know who to pursue. The police can't arrest him. How can they? They don't know who to arrest. Without a name, all other proposals are meaningless. The first task, then, is to find it. We get a name, we get a passport and a face. And with a face, we get an arrest. But to find his name, and to do it in secret, is a job of pure detective work.
Minister: Commissioner, who is the best detective on the force?
Berthier: The best detective is my own deputy commissioner, Claude Lebel.

Caron: You know, sir, what they'll do to you if you don't catch this man in time...
Lebel: I've been given a job to do, so we'll just have to do it.
Caron: But no crime has been committed yet, so where are we supposed to start looking for the criminal?
Lebel: We start by recognizing that, after De Gaulle, we are the two most powerful people in France.

Mallinson: The prime minister?
Insp. Thomas: The prime minister, sir. That he said if there's the remotest possibility of General de Gaulle's life being threatened by a person of these islands, then it is to be stopped. And he's given me full powers and top priority.
Mallinson: Is this some kind of bloody joke?
Insp. Thomas: No, of couse not, sir. I've got to drop whatever I'm doing, and I shall need six of your best men, straight away.
Mallinson: Where's the notification for all this? Where's the proper authority? [Telephone rings. Mallison answers] Yes! [Mallison listens then rises] Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Of course, sir.

[Lebel arranges calls from Holland, Belgium, Italy, West Germany, South Africa, the United States and Britain]

Caron: Sir, how do you know that the Jackal comes from any of these seven countries?
Lebel: I don't. But he must be on file somewhere.

Lebel: Excuse me, but it has just occurred to me that we have forty-eight hours in which to find this Jackal.
[There is a chorus of "What?" and "How do you know?" from the committee members]
Lebel: Am I right in assuming that the President has no engagements outside the Elysee Palace today, tomorrow and Saturday?
Minister: None.
Lebel: And what is Sunday, August the twenty-fifth?
Minister: [Slaps forehead] Of course! Liberation Day!
Lebel: That's what he's been waiting for.
Minister: We must have been blind.

Mallinson: There's no question of Her Majesty's Government ever conceding the fact that this Jackal was an Englishman. So far as one can see, there was a period when an Englishman came under suspicion, but he has now been cleared. Certainly, the Jackal masqueraded as an Englishman, but he also masqueraded as a Dane and as a Frenchman. So there's no way of proving his identity at all.
Inspector Thomas: But, if the Jackal wasn't Calthrop, THEN WHO THE HELL WAS HE?


  • Nameless, faceless...relentlessly moving towards the date with death that would rock the world.
  • The Jackal spent 71 days, 56 minutes thinking a bullet into the brain of de Gaulle.