The Fox is a Jackal
Angered by President Charles de Gaulle's actions over Algiers the OAS are formed to kill him, but after various failed attempts de Gaulle has become so well protected that a highly trained killer is needed. It is how they come to employ the services of expert assassin The Jackal (Edward Fox) who tells them it is a once in a lifetime job and so he expects half a million dollars, 250,000 upfront and the same on completion of the job.
I have watched "The Day of the Jackal" 3 times, first time I found it incredibly hard going, slow, overly detailed and whilst I had never read Frederick Forsyth's original novel felt that it might be too literal in its adaptation to work as a movie for anyone other than those who watched having read the novel. In truth I am impressed by the amount of detail which Zinnemann has included in the movie but feel that it comes at the cost of the movie's watch ability especially for those who don't know where the events are leading.
But then there was the second time I watched it and with some jiggery pokery increased the playing speed by 15% and it made for an interesting outcome as whilst the amount of detail still made it difficult hard work the slowness of scenes was lost and it made for certain scenes such as the confrontation between the Jackal and the forger when he tries to blackmail him much more exciting. It then has a positive effect on a subsequent scene between the Jackal and the gun maker, making you much more alert to what may happen.
Then there was that third time and I watched it back at normal speed yet with the improvement made by that sped up second viewing I found it much more easy to follow as the story had started to come alive having been sped up. Despite that and the solid performances throughout I still feel that "The Day of the Jackal" with its story of the assassin preparing for the job and then the French government preparing to stop him whilst the British government try to work out who the Jackal is, is best suited to those who have already read Forsyth's original story.
What this all boils down to is that "The Day of the Jackal" didn't work for me and found it slow going with Zinnermann's seemingly laborious attention to detail being too much. But didn't work doesn't mean it is bad and as I said I am sure there are those who have read the novel who are impressed by the detail, engrossed waiting for the next moment they remember reading to be dramatized.