The Day Of The Jackal | 1973
Fred Zinnemann’s detailed, episodic filming of Frederick Forsyth’s novel was filmed on locations all over Europe as the OAS, in 1963, hires a professional hitman to assassinate French president General de Gaulle.
The coldly professional gunman, known only as The Jackal (Edward Fox), initially meets up with the OAS leaders in Vienna’s Prater Park, home of the familiar Big Wheel, famous from Carol Reed’s The Third Man, in the Leopoldstadt district.
The UK locations are now largely defunct: The Jackal consults French newspaper Le Figaro in the old circular Reading Room at the British Museum Library, British Museum, Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury WC1.
The Reading Room, which opened in 1857 and stands at the heart of the Museum, was accessed by applying for a reader’s ticket. Among those granted such tickets were Karl Marx, Lenin (who signed in under the name Jacob Richter) and novelists Bram Stoker and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
In 1997 the vast book collection was moved to a new purpose-built building in St Pancras, and the stacks were taken down. As part of the Great Court development, the interior of the Reading Room was carefully restored. Sadly, it's been closed to the public since 2013, and its future use is undecided.
Jackal gets a false birth certificate at Somerset House in the Strand, where all UK births, marriages and deaths were recorded until the register moved to St Catherine’s House (it’s moved again since then). Somerset House, now renovated as a gallery-exhibition space, has since found fame as a regular movie location, in Bond movies GoldenEye (as 'St Petersburg') and Tomorrow Never Dies (as the 'Ministry of Defence'), as well as costume dramas such as The Duchess (as 'Devonshire House') and biopic Wilde (as the writer's London apartments).
The Metropolitan Police operate out of New Scotland Yard, now known as the Norman Shaw Buildings (and housing office space for the nearby Houses of Parliament) on Victoria Embankment north of Westminster Bridge, SW1, and a familiar sight from countless films and TV shows. In 1967, the Met moved to a new purpose-built HQ in Victoria, but is currently moving again.
The town where the Jackal collects his customised pack-away gun from the Gunsmith (Cyril Cusack) and his fake ID from the Forger (Ronald Pickup), is Genova on the coast of northern Italy. His fraught border crossing back into France is at Ventimiglia on the coast road a few miles east of Monaco.
He meets up with Colette (Delphine Seyrig) in a hotel, supposedly near Grasse, ten miles northwest of Cannes on the N85, but actually a dilapidated chateau near Paris, and he catches his train to Paris at Tulle, arriving at the Gare d’Austerlitz, Place Valhubert on the Quai d’Austerlitz.
The Jackal makes his attempt on de Gaulle from a hotel window opposite the Montparnasse Bienvenue Métro Station. The hotel can be seen virtually unchanged at 150 rue de Rennes on the place du 18 Juin 1940, at the boulevard du Montparnasse (Métro: Montparnasse Bienvenue).