In early 1963, having failed in its effort to kill General de Gaulle, the hard-line French Secret Army Organization (OAS), under the leadership of Colonel Rodin (Eric Porter), decides to hire a top foreign professional assassin to do the job for them.
The man – a British assassin reputed to have engineered the dispatch of both Trujillo and Lumumba – is hired at a price of $500,000. He suggests his own code name: The Jackal, commenting “Whoever takes this job can never work again”.
The ultimate man on a mission, the film follows The Jackal (Edward Fox) in almost documentary style as he sets about laying plans with almost religious care and procuring false papers, disguises, and his ultra-cool precision-built, made-to-measure skeletal assassination snipers rifle.
In the meantime, French authorities, by chance, become alert that a plot is afoot and The Minister (Alan Badel) warns the President.
He assigns Chief Inspector Lebel (Michel Lonsdale) to locate the killer before he can get to the General.
Fox’s stiff acting style is perfect for the utterly ruthless terrorist – probably the most dangerous man ever to don a beige sports jacket and cravat – and which Briton worth their salt can honestly say they haven’t rooted for him over the snotty and ungrateful Anglophobe de Gaulle?
Remember, no watermelons were killed or injured during the making of this movie!
The film was later remade starring Bruce Willis and Richard Gere under the title of The Jackal, but it had none of the finesse of the original and only serves to make people want to see the original again.
Chief Inspector Lebel
Colette de Montpelier
President De Gaulle