[[quoteright:219:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/The-Day-of-the-Jackal_1627.jpg]]

-> ''[[TitleDrop The day of the Jackal]] was over.''

Creator/FrederickForsyth's most famous novel, by some margin.

The year is 1963. Following [[{{UsefulNotes/Algeria}} a deeply divisive and costly Civil War]], French President UsefulNotes/CharlesDeGaulle has granted independence to Algeria. His decision is seen as a betrayal by many of his former supporters. A disenchanted paramilitary group, the OAS, has vowed to kill de Gaulle in revenge but each plot has failed. In desperation, the OAS turn to a mysterious foreign assassin, known only as ''The Jackal'', to carry out the job. The government learns of the plot, but know nothing of the would-be assassin besides his code name. So they call upon the best detective in France: Deputy Commissioner Claude Lebel, who is given unlimited authority to capture or kill The Jackal, with only two requirements: no publicity, and do not fail.

The 1973 movie holds us for nearly two and a half hours as we watch as the Jackal's plans proceed with inexorable precision, as Lebel struggles to thwart a man of whom he knows nothing: no name, no picture, no nationality. He isn't even sure if the plot is real or simply the ravings of a tortured terrorist. To make matters worse, the terrorists have infiltrated the French Cabinet, and the Jackal is being passed valuable information about the pursuit. After the members of the cabinet tire of Lebel using the authority they granted him to find the cabinet member who is leaking information, they essentially fire him, thinking they can find the Jackal easily enough. When that doesn't work, they reluctantly call Lebel back, in desperation, because the Jackal has eventually disappeared, and they need to find him before he carries out the assassination.

Has been adapted twice -- in the famous 1973 film ''The Day of the Jackal'' starring Edward Fox (of the Fox acting dynasty), while the second, just called ''Film/TheJackal'' is a [[InNameOnly far looser]] 1997 adaptation.
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!!''The Day of the Jackal'' novel provides examples of:
* AffablyEvil: Lampshaded by Lebel when witnesses talk of what a perfect gentleman the Jackal is.
-->They were the worse ones. No-one ever suspected them.
* ArmsDealer: The man who provides The Jackal with the take-down sniper rifle is one of these.
* AssholeVictim: The colonel who is seduced into becoming a source of information for the OAS HoneyTrap. He's an ObstructiveBureaucrat only concerned with his own ego and the sycophantic advancement of his career. No-one's sorry when he's exposed and has to resign in disgrace.
* BadAss: The Jackal. Ruthless, intelligent, elusive and a cold-blooded killer.
** Lebel, too. He alone finds the one man that the entire French security force couldn't. And kills him.
* BadHabits: One of the Jackal's disguises is as a Danish clergyman.
* BankRobbery: The Jackal suggests the OAS carry out some of these to fund his fees. A string of these eventually leads the Action Service to notice that something is up.
* BlackAndGrayMorality: The OAS are far-right terrorists who tortured during the war in Algeria. Their opposition are more than capable of being bastards in return, torturing an OAS member just to get information.
* {{Blackmail}}: A forger tries to blackmail the Jackal. [[spoiler:[[GroinAttack It doesn't end]] [[NeckSnap well for him]].]]
* BlackmailBackfire: The documents forger tries to swindle more money out of The Jackal, and follows up by not bowing to the Jackal's one request (that they don't meet at the forger's apartment for payment) when the Jackal accepts. The Jackal [[NeckSnap breaks his neck]] and stuffs his body in a trunk in response.
* BewareTheNiceOnes/BewareTheQuietOnes: Lebel is calm, soft-spoken, and keeps his mouth shut until asked. He has also taken down some of France's most powerful and dangerous criminals.
* BoringButPractical: Lebel eschews fancy espionage tradecraft in favor of simply looking at the case deeper than the other guys. In fact, this is exactly how he catches the Jackal: During the Liberation Day parade, he goes around the security cordon and asks the patrol guards one by one until he stumbles upon one guard that lets in a guy who fits in Jackal's profile.
** Similarly, he also doesn't rely on any fancy detective tricks to bust OAS's mole inside the French cabinet. He just bugs their phones, all of them.
** The move by the French police of grabbing the guest records of all the hotels in the country and search through every single one of them for the signature of the aliases they know the Jackal could be using (and the search through all of the birth and death records in the countries they know the Jackal was in for said aliases). Brute-force (and in an era of pure paper records ''incredibly'' slow) but still provides them with all of the information they need to keep track of the Jackal.
* ColdSniper: The Jackal himself, though occasionally he snaps.
* ConspicuouslyPublicAssassination: The Jackal plans to assassinate Charles [=DeGaulle=] at a public event, [[spoiler:notably the award ceremony on Liberation Day, the one occasion he can be certain the President of France will turn up, no matter what threats have been made against his life.]]
* DeadMansChest: Done to a blackmailing photographer.
* TheDeterminator: The Jackal carries out his plan despite his cover identities being blown and the massive manhunt for him. From this Lebel deduces that he not only has a foolproof plan of assassination, but that it must take place on a particular date (otherwise he'd simply lay low until the heat dies off).
* DrivingQuestion: The Day of the Jackal--when is it?
* ElectricTorture: With crocodile clips ''to the testicles''. The subject dies.
* EnemyMine: A subplot has Colonel Rolland of Action Services asking the Unione Corse, the Corsican Mafia, for help locating the Jackal [[DealWithTheDevil in exchange for reduced police pressure]].
* EvenEvilHasLovedOnes: Kowalski, the OAS courier, spends much of the novel fretting over his daughter, dying of leukemia. Ultimately [[spoiler:he's captured by Action Services while trying to visit her in hospital.]]
* EvilBrit: The Jackal is British and a ProfessionalKiller. [[spoiler:Or is he? At the end of the novel, Her Majesty's Government point out there's no proof, given his multiple identities, that he was ever British in the first place. The Brit who originally came under suspicion, Charles Calthrop, turned out to be innocent.]]
* FauxYay: The Jackal pretends to be gay to sneak past a French manhunt, counting on the homophobia of the policemen to make them not bother to look closely.
* ForegoneConclusion: The Jackal's mission will fail, as De Gaulle died peacefully of natural causes several years later; the reader is reminded of this early in the novel.
* GameChanger: None of the OAS's efforts to assassinate French President Charles de Gaulle succeeded, because their ranks were riddled with police informers. The Game Changer comes when the OAS leaders contract the services of a foreign assassin, about whom the French Secret Service know almost nothing.
* GentlemanAdventurer: The Jackal is characterized as similar to this type, albeit an evil version.
* GrayEyes: The Jackal has them and fits the danger archetype.
* GreatDetective: Lebel.
* GroinAttack: A would-be blackmailer gets this before the Jackal finishes him off. Of course, the ElectricTorture to the penis and testicles...
* HaveYouToldAnyoneElse
* HenpeckedHusband: Lebel is one.
* HeroAntagonist
* HistoricalDomainCharacter: UsefulNotes/CharlesDeGaulle obviously; he's a constant presence, and has a scene where he's briefed about the Jackal's plot against him. British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, [=DeGaulle=]'s Interior Minister Roger Frey and Colonel Bastien-Thiry (leader of the Petit-Clarmont assassination plot) also appear.
* HoneyTrap: One character in the book was the girlfriend of a (now dead) OAS member and she starts up a relationship with a high-ranking French official so she can learn about developments in the investigation and aid the Jackal.
* HowDidYouKnowIDidnt: Lebel taps all of the phones of the ''entire'' French Cabinet to identify the mole.
* TheInfiltration: The OAS has an insider close to a Government minister, who passes on information to the Jackal.
* IWorkAlone: The second reason why the Jackal is so hard to catch. Not only is he not on their files, the French intelligence agencies can't use their network of informants in the OAS either. The Jackal supplies his own weapon, false identities, and safe houses, only phoning a single contact who can pass on information from TheMole.
* LampshadeHanging: The Jackal points out that it would be far easier (and more practical) for the OAS to simply get a suicidal fanatic to jump de Gaulle than to spend a fortune on an assassin.
* LastStand: Kowalski, the huge Polish OAS member who is kidnapped by French security forces, goes down fighting and immobilizes three agents before the rest finally overpower him.
* MasterOfDisguise: The movie adaptation in turn depict The Jackal as a Master of Disguise, which Carlos was known for being.
** In the book it's the forger who advises the Jackal how to disguise himself to fit the false passports he's created.
* MeaningfulName (also FunWithAcronyms): The Jackal is suspected to be an Englishman named '''Cha'''rles '''Cal'''throp, ergo ''Chacal'', French for "Jackal". [[spoiler: He actually isn't.]]
* MinorCrimeRevealsMajorPlot: The OAS's spree of bank robberies draws the attention of French authority, who quickly realize something bigger's going on.
* MurderSimulators: Several assassins/attempted assassins are fans of the book or at least rumored to be. Carlos the Jackal got his nickname because he was mistakenly believed to own a copy. Yitzhak Rabin's assassin, Yigal Amir was found to have a copy; while his assassination of Rabin was quite different than that the Jackal attempts on de Gaulle, it's easy to see parallels between Amir and Bastien-Thiry. Vladimir Arutyunian, who attempted to assassinate both UsefulNotes/GeorgeWBush and the President of Georgia, kept an annotated copy of the book as a how-to-guide.
* MysteriousPast: Much of the Jackal's past is only hinted at. [[spoiler:What country did he come from? How did he gain his deadly skills? Did he really take part in the assassination of President Trujillo, or was that also a RedHerring? We never find out.]]
* NearVillainVictory: The Jackal actually manages one shot at de Gaulle before he gets killed.
* NeckSnap: The Jackal does this a few times.
* NoNameGiven: [[spoiler: We never find out the real name of the Jackal]].
* ObfuscatingDisability: The war veteran identity, which justifies the crutches in which he hides his ScaramangaSpecial.
* ObstructiveBureaucrat: Lebel has to report to a committee full of them. Every day.
* PoliceAreUseless: Averted by Lebel, who is very effective at his job.
* PressurePoint: Action Service men once demonstrate their knowledge of this.
* ProfessionalKiller: The Jackal is one. His wages are so high that the OAS has to rob several banks to gather the money needed.
* RedHerring: A man on British Intelligence's list of suspected assassins-for-hire has a name which suggests a StevenUlyssesPerHero for the Jackal: Charles Calthrop ("Chacal" is French for "jackal"). [[spoiler:He turns out to be a completely different person.]]
* ReverseMole: The OAS is so full of Action Service infiltrators that its head trusts only two others and has to rely on an outsider, namely the title assassin, for the task.
* RightWingMilitiaFanatic: The OAS, as was TruthInTelevision.
* ScaramangaSpecial: The SniperRifle is disguised as a crutch.
* SedgwickSpeech: Bastien-Thiry gives one before his execution.
* ShownTheirWork
** The opening assassination attempt really took place and is a very good re-creation.
** Perhaps most notably the method where the Jackal gets a fake passport, getting a birth certificate from a person who died as a child. Forsyth got some criticism for revealing that method. In his defense, Forsyth was trying to call attention to the loophole so it would be closed, and almost the entire criminal world was already aware of the trick and had been using it for years. [[http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/3098104.stm See this article for more]] -- amazingly, they only really started to close the loophole after almost ''30 years''.
*** A year earlier, hippie author Abbie Hoffman had refused to publicize the method in ''Steal This Book!'', out of fear of governments closing the loophole.
** Not surprising as Frederick Forsyth had covered the real-life events which inspired the film as a journalist for Reuters.
* ShoutOut: A fairly subliminal one, but in one section of the book it's mentioned that the head of British Intelligence plays cards at a club called Blades. Blades is from the ''Literature/JamesBond'' series.
* SniperRifle: No surprise.
* SpannerInTheWorks: Quite a few, but the most ironic one was Charles de Gaulle himself [[spoiler:who's French, and therefore more likely to kiss a man on the cheeks instead of shaking his hand, thereby just dodging the Jackal's bullet]].
** The otherwise well-planned opening assassination failed because Bastien-Thirty looked at an almanac for the wrong year and so misjudged when the sun would go down. As a result it was too dark for the gunners to see his signal and they opened fire too late.
** The leader of the OAS uses the Jackal's codename in front of his bodyguard, who is later captured by the Action Service. From this one mistake, the head of the Action Service deduces that the OAS have hired a ProfessionalKiller and that De Gaulle must be the target.
* StephenUlyssesPerhero: About halfway through the story, Lebel deduces that the Jackal, or "le chacal" in French, is a Brit by the name of '''Cha'''rles '''Cal'''throp. [[spoiler:A subversion, as Calthrop is entirely innocent and unrelated.]]
* TitleDrop: The last line of the book.
* TheUnsolvedMystery: [[spoiler:The Jackal's true identity]].
* VillainProtagonist
* WorthyOpponent: Lebel and the Jackal (Chacal in French) develop a grudging respect for each other, without ever meeting -- with the Jackal again and again evading Lebel's clever traps and Lebel again and again penetrating the Jackal's clever disguises. Lebel certainly appreciates the Jackal far higher then he does the government officials he has to work with. When they at last meet face to face they look for a split second into each other's eyes, Lebel saying "Chacal" and the Jackal saying "Lebel" before they scramble to kill each other. Lebel having been a split second quicker, he on the following day attends the Jackal's burial in a nameless grave, saying nothing to the handful of other people present.
* YourHeadASplode: Not 100%, but that's the Jackal's aim. Witness the watermelon scene.

!!The 1973 film provides examples of:
* BiTheWay: The Jackal is certainly not averse to picking up a guy in a Turkish bath in order to get a bed for the night.
* BlownAcrossTheRoom: To save himself from being shot, Lebel grabs a machine gun in desperation, and the bullets splash his target spread-eagle into the wall.
* TheCameo: French actor/singer Philippe Leotard, as the ill-fated gendarme in the climactic scene.
* CastingGag: OAS adjutant Wolenski is played by Jean Martin, better-known as Colonel Mathieu from ''Film/TheBattleOfAlgiers''.
* DeathByAdaptation: [[spoiler:Colonel St. Clair, who simply resigns in the book after being exposed, commits suicide.]]
* GilliganCut: Bastien-Thiry telling his lawyer "No French soldier will raise his rifle against me." Cut to him being executed by firing squad.
* HollywoodSilencer
* MasterOfDisguise: The character (along with [[Literature/TheBourneSeries Jason Bourne]]) is heavily influenced by the real life terrorist Carlos "The Jackal", who was a Master of Disguise. This is carried over into the remake film, ''Film/TheJackal''.
* NotEvenBotheringWithTheAccent: The English actors playing French characters, mostly noticeable when they play scenes opposite actual French actors.
* ShirtlessScene: Quite a few.
* SourceMusic: Opening narrative or at least the last part of it is apparently spoken by a newsman on the radio OAS members are listening to.
* TheVoiceless: De Gaulle, who's always seen in crowds or long distance (unlike the book where he's a more substantial presence).
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: The gunsmith, who disappears after the Jackal picks up his rifle. The movie excises a scene from the novel where the Jackal visits the gunsmith a third time, possibly to silence him, and the latter reveals he's planted incriminating evidence should the Jackal murder him.
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