Director Fred Zinnemann’s 1973 British film adaptation of Frederick Forsyth’s labyrinthine bestselling novel about the plot to assassinate General Charles de Gaulle, the President of France, in 1963 is a tense and exciting movie, convincing in every detail.
Edward Fox plays the would-be professional killer code-named ‘Jackal’ chillingly in what may still be his best role. The movie belongs to him and he owns it but he is supported by strong work from a first-rate Franco-British cast. It also stars Michel Lonsdale, Alan Badel, Eric Porter, Cyril Cusack, Delphine Seyrig, Donald Sinden, Tony Britton and Timothy West.
In an absolutely first-rate thriller, Zinnemann cleverly achieves an extremely high level of tension and suspense despite the audience’s pre-knowledge of the plot’s outcome, at least for the historically minded. The film is attractively shot on a huge number of striking European locations by cinematographer Jean Tournier. The clever, intelligent screenplay is by Kenneth Ross and there is a notable score by Georges Delerue to add to the mood and tension.
Also in the cast are Olga Georges-Picot, Barrie Ingham, Maurice Denham, Anton Rodgers, Jean Sorel, Derek Jacobi, Ronald Pickup, Terence Alexander, David Swift, Michel Auclair and Philippe Leotard.
Ralph Kemplen won a Bafta award for Best Film Editing and was Oscar nominated.
It was remade in 1997 as The Jackal with Richard Gere and Bruce Willis.
© Derek Winnert 2017 Classic Movie Review 4894
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