The Day of the Jackal: Edward Fox’s Tan Herringbone Suit

Edward Fox in The Day of the Jackal (1973)


Edward Fox as “The Jackal”, mysterious professional assassin

Europe, Summer 1963

Film: The Day of the Jackal
Release Date: May 16, 1973
Director: Fred Zinnemann
Costume Design: Joan Bridge, Rosine Delamare, and Elizabeth Haffenden


The Day of the Jackal culminated 60 years ago today on August 25, 1963 in Paris, commemorating the liberation of Paris from Nazi Germany during World War II. Frederick Forsyth’s excellent 1971 novel The Day of the Jackal was hardly two years old before it was adapted for the screen by screenwriter Kenneth Ross and director Fred Zinnemann, who reportedly wanted to make the film after reading Forsyth’s yet-unpublished manuscript all in one night.

Zinnemann didn’t want a recognizable major star to distract from the intrigue on screen, and—despite Universal Studios pushing for Jack Nicholson—cast Edward Fox as the eponymous “Jackal”, whose codename is determined in the book after he was “speaking of hunting” with his handlers. In addition to the film benefiting from faithfully following Forysth’s narrative and structure, a highlight is Fox’s performance as the enigmatic and oft-elegantly dressed assassin, whose demeanor can shift from affable to icily dangerous as needed.

The Jackal’s reputation precedes him, as the French far-right terrorist organization O.A.S. is seeking an unaffiliated assassin to kill Charles de Gaulle, then the President of France whose war hero reputation had been tarnished in the eyes of some—including the O.A.S.—for the way he ended the Algerian War of Independence. The early 1960s had seen a wave of real-life political assassinations, including Patrice Lumumba and Rafael Trujillo, with The Day of the Jackal alluding to its titular hitman’s participation in these notorious killings.

“One Englishman did all these jobs?” asks the O.A.S. treasurer André Casson (Denis Carey), as we cut to the fair-haired Fox deplaning in Vienna on June 15, 1963. By his manner, his dress, and his deprecating smile, he could be any regular businessman or well-dressed tourist.

Edward Fox in The Day of the Jackal (1973)

While the O.A.S. leadership doesn’t ask the Jackal his strengths or weaknesses, they do follow the typical job interview format by inquiring about his salary expectations… then balking at the figure he quotes.

Colonel Marc Rodin (Eric Porter) and his two lieutenants begin the Jackal’s unconventional interview by making their “patriotic” case against de Gaulle, but the Englishman sitting before them doesn’t care about Algeria, the pieds-noirs, or any idealistic cause—all he cares about is being paid. While I wouldn’t necessarily laud his tactics on LinkedIn, the Jackal turns the conversation into one of the most effective job interviews of all time, convincing the O.A.S. that their organization is “so riddled with informants” that they need an outsider for such a high-profile assassination. And the outsider needs to be him. And he needs to be paid half a million dollars:

Considering you expect to France in returned, I’d have thought it a reasonable price. If you can’t manage it, then there’s nothing more to be said.

Once the payment terms are agreed upon, the assassin lays out his conditions—including that the trio of O.A.S. leaders remain in hiding until the job is completed, not share any details of the assignment with anyone else (at all!), and that they can rob their own banks to raise the funds to hire him.

Colonel Rodin: One last thing… what code name will you use?
The Jackal: Why not “The Jackal”?
Colonel Rodin: Why not.

After the streak of bank robberies that enrage the French government, the O.A.S. finally has enough to fund the Jackal’s mission, so he beings researching de Gaulle’s movements and personality while also collecting the tools and cover identities he needs for the job. For the latter, he swipes a passport from bespectacled Danish tourist Per Lundquist at London Airport, and he stakes out a cemetery to steal the identity of Paul Oliver Duggan, who died in 1931 at the age of two and would be approximately the Jackal’s age in 1963.

The Jackal spends the following month traveling through Europe to prepare his cover identity documentation, custom-made weapon, and the car which he’ll use to ingeniously transport it across the well-guarded borders. In Genoa, he works with the prolific underground gunsmith Gozzi (Cyril Cusack) on the design for a one-of-a-kind bolt-action single-shot sniper rifle. Across the city, he also meets with a shady forger (Ronald Pickup) who makes the ill-advised decision to attempt extorting additional fees from his mysterious client.

Although the attempts on his life have understandably spooked de Gaulle into hiding, the Jackal knows enough from his research to know that the general’s pride would forbid him from missing the August 25th celebration of Liberation Day—providing the perfect, if only, opportunity for the Jackal to take his “once-in-a-lifetime” shot.

What’d He Wear?

When we meet the Jackal in Vienna, he’s dressed in an elegant tan herringbone suit, with an iridescent sheen that suggests Solaro cloth. According to Henry A. Davidsen, this worsted wool fabric was invented in 1907 by Louis Westenra Sambonn of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, who hoped it could be used for British military uniforms to protect its wearers from UV rays. “As it’s simply wool, it obviously does nothing to protect against UV rays,” the Davidsen site concludes. “Regardless, Solaro made its way into civilian closets. Smith Woolens has been the exclusive manufacturer of Solaro since 1931, though there are other cloth mills that produce a nearly identical product of comparable quality.”

“Considering the particular chromatic characteristics, it is a garment to show off only during the during the months from May to September: therefore spring and summer are the ideal time to wear it to the fullest,” determines the Laniera Italia website. “The seasonal features of the suit are also reflected in the choice of fabrics used for making it: cotton and light wool.”

Solaro cloth is typically a light shade of brown, consistent with the khaki uniforms it had been originally intended for. The Jackal’s suit is no exception.

Edward Fox in The Day of the Jackal (1973)

The Jackal may be on his way to be interviewed by the O.A.S., but this shot frames him perfectly to take over Waystar Royco if the whole international assassin thing doesn’t work out.

The Jackal’s single-breasted suit jacket has notch lapels that roll to a single-button closure, neatly balancing Edward Fox’s 5’8″ stature by not adding rows of buttons that could make him look shorter. The concave-shaped pagoda shoulders curve out to heavily roped sleeveheads, and the sleeves are finished with three-button cuffs.

The jacket fashionably applies aspects of hacking jackets—specifically the long single vent and hip pockets that slant dramatically rearward, though these pockets are jetted rather than flapped as seen on traditional equestrian jackets (as this suit is clearly not meant for horseback riding). The jacket also has a welted breast pocket, which the Jackal wears sans kerchief.

Edward Fox and Ronald Pickup in The Day of the Jackal (1973)

In a rakish touch that recalls the sartorial philosophy of “studied carelessness” known as sprezzatura, the Jackal typically wears his tie with the rear tail slightly longer than the front blade.

Like all of the Jackal’s trousers, the suit’s matching trousers are tailored perfectly to fit Edward Fox, with button-tab side adjusters in lieu of a belt or other suspension system. These flat-front trousers have slightly slanted side pockets, no back pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms.

The Jackal’s brown leather shoes appear to be derby-laced. He wears them with tan cotton lisle socks that continue the leg-line of his trousers into his shoes.

Edward Fox in The Day of the Jackal (1973)

The Jackal’s cool tan high-twist cotton shirt coordinates with his suit, a shade lighter than the overall color presented by the two-color herringbone suiting. The Jackal’s choice to wear a button-down shirt with a suit and tie was typically accepted in the United States than his native England, further complicating the matter of his national identity that stymies Scotland Yard by film’s end. The shirt has a button-down collar, front placket, and button cuffs.

Both times that the Jackal prominently wears this full suit—in Vienna on June 15th then back in Genoa on August 14th—he also wears this shirt and a maroon tie, detailed with small woven beige pin-dots that echo the shade of his suit and shirt. It may be perhaps intentional that the Jackal’s neutral clothing is broken up only by this streak of blood-red fabric, suggesting the image of the blood he spills via his dangerous profession.

Edward Fox in The Day of the Jackal (1973)

Note how the tie’s pin-dots pick up the tan shades present in his suit and shirt.

Throughout The Day of the Jackal, the Jackal wears a classically oriented yellow-gold dress watch secured to a brown leather strap. The round white or off-white dial features an outer ring and gilt Arabic numeral hour indices.

While staking out London Airport and eventually choosing to follow Per Lundquist to purloin his passport, the Jackal orphans this herringbone suit jacket with a silky cream-colored shirt with a covered front fly, double (French) cuffs, and a point collar he wears open at the neck to show a mustard leaf-printed silk day cravat knotted around his neck.

Edward Fox in The Day of the Jackal (1973)

Following this airport scene, wearing neutral-toned shirts and trousers with colorful day cravats would become the Jackal’s most frequent dress code, though he swaps out this herringbone suit jacket with a slightly heavier camel sports coat.

The movie’s costume design departs significantly from how Frederick Forsyth describes the Jackal’s clothing in his novel; for instance, Forsyth describes no more than one of the Jackal’s “elegant suede boot” after his interview with Colonel Rodin and the fact that he wears a “check suit and dark glasses” on the night he kills the opportunistic forger.

The Gun

At the beginning of August, the Jackal had met with Genoan gunsmith Gozzi to construct the custom rifle he would need for the de Gaulle assassination, with specifcations that would make it easy to smuggle but accurate and powerful enough to make his single shot count.

The Jackal: You think you can do it?
Gozzi: Certainly! I can take an existing gun, make the modifications.
The Jackal: Must be very light in weight, and it must have a short barrel.
Gozzi: A short barrel… yes, that’s a pity.
The Jackal: And lastly, there must be a silencer and, of course, a telescopic sight.
Gozzi: Over what range will you fire?
The Jackal: I’m not sure yet, but probably not more than 400 feet.
Gozzi: Will the gentleman be moving?
The Jackal: Stationary.
Gozzi: Will you go for a head shot or a chest shot?
The Jackal: Probably head.
Gozzi: And what about the chance of a second shot?
The Jackal: I might get the chance, but I doubt it. In any event, I’ll need a silencer to escape.
Gozzi: In that case, you better have explosive bullets. Yes, I can prepare a handful for you along with the gun.
The Jackal: Glycerin or mercury?
Gozzi: Oh, mercury, I think. Much cleaner.

The Jackal then mitigates Gozzi’s design duties by presenting his own blueprints, which would allow it to be concealed in a series of hollow aluminum tubes to evade customs. When the Jackal returns in two weeks to collect the weapon, Gozzi explains that he used stronger stainless steel tubes than the requested aluminum. IMFDB users have identified the bullets it fires as .22 Magnum.

Edward Fox and Cyril Cusack in The Day of the Jackal (1973)

The Jackal inspects the unique single-shot rifle that Gozzi constructed for him, built to his desired specifications.

While the scene of him executing Gozzi was scripted but cut, we do follow the Jackal as he takes the gunsmith’s suggestion to test his new product in the Montemurro Forest.

How to Get the Look

Edward Fox in The Day of the Jackal (1973)

The Jackal establishes his warm, neutral palette from the start when he greets his new employers in an elegant yet uniquely detailed suit with its shiny cloth, slanted pockets, and blend of English, American, and Italian tailoring influences.

  • Tan herringbone-woven solaro worsted wool suit:
    • Single-button jacket with notch lapels, welted breast pocket, slanted jetted hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and long single vent
    • Flat-front trousers with button-tab side adjusters, slanted side pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
  • Ecru cotton shirt with button-down collar, front placket, and button cuffs
  • Maroon polka-dotted tie
  • Brown leather derby shoes
  • Tan cotton lisle socks
  • Yellow-gold wristwatch with round champagne dial on brown leather strap

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Check out the movie and read Frederick Forsyth’s thrilling 1971 novel.

The Quote

You must understand that this is a once-in-a-lifetime job, whoever does it can never work again.


  1. RM

    Great write up. I enjoy the realism of the Jackal’s limited mix and match wardrobe, adding to the documentary feel of the movie.

  2. Demostene Romanucci

    (Re)watched this last night. Remembered this post. Hoped for something on the Jackal’s watch. Anything?

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