Literature: The Day of the Jackal
's most famous novel, by some margin.
The year is 1963. Following a deeply divisive and costly Civil War
, French President Charles De Gaulle
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 The Jackal
is a far looser
The Day of the Jackal novel provides examples of:
The 1973 film provides examples of:
- Bi the Way: The Jackal is certainly not averse to picking up a guy in a Turkish bath in order to get a bed for the night.
- Blown Across the Room: To save himself from being shot, Lebel grabs a machine gun in desperation, and the bullets splash his target spread-eagle into the wall.
- The Cameo: French actor/singer Philippe Leotard, as the ill-fated gendarme in the climactic scene.
- Casting Gag: OAS adjutant Wolenski is played by Jean Martin, better-known as Colonel Mathieu from The Battle of Algiers.
- Death by Adaptation: Colonel St. Clair, who simply resigns in the book after being exposed, commits suicide.
- Gilligan Cut: Bastien-Thiry telling his lawyer "No French soldier will raise his rifle against me." Cut to a firing squad doing exactly that.
- Hollywood Silencer
- Master of Disguise: The character (along with 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, The Jackal.
- Shirtless Scene: Quite a few.
- Source Music: Opening narrative or at least the last part of it is apparently spoken by a newsman on the radio OAS members are listening to.
- The Voiceless: De Gaulle, who's always seen in crowds or long distance (unlike the book where he's a more substantial presence).
- What Happened to the Mouse?: 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.