There's something about classic spy novels that were made into 1970s movie thrillers that television executives just can't resist. The Peacock streaming service has announced that it is making a new series based on Frederick Forsyth's 1971 novel, "The Day of the Jackal."
The new series follows "The Ipcress File," which was a hit for AMC earlier this year, and "Condor," a 2018 series based on "Three Days of the Condor."
"The Day of the Jackal" was made into a 1973 movie, an espionage classic directed by Fred Zinnemann (an Oscar winner for the World War II movie "From Here to Eternity") and starring Edward Fox ("A Bridge Too Far") and Michael Lonsdale ("Moonraker").
The novel and the movie tell the story of a fictional attempt to assassinate French President Charles de Gaulle. Fox plays "The Jackal," a mysterious British hitman hired by a far-right political group to carry out the mission. Lonsdale is Claude Lebel, the police detective leading an investigation into a rumored assassination plot.
The movie was remade in 1997 as "The Jackal" with Bruce Willis ("Die Hard"), Richard Gere ("An Officer and a Gentleman") and Army veteran Sidney Poitier ("In the Heat of the Night"). The movie is a very loose adaptation that updates the story to a possible hit on the FBI director. Willis is The Jackal, Gere is an IRA sniper sprung from prison because he can identify The Jackal, and Poitier is the deputy director of the FBI.
"The Jackal" isn't as memorable as the novel or the original movie, but Willis and Gere were big stars back then and the film was a success.
"The Day of the Jackal" series will be written by Ronan Bennett, creator of the British gangster series "Top Boy" (streaming on Netflix) and directed by Brian Kirk ("Game of Thrones"). There's no word on casting yet.
Peacock has yet to make itself a destination for military and spy dramas, but it is home to the excellent British spy drama series "The Capture," which just released its second (and likely final) season.
"The Ipcress File" is based on the 1962 novel by Len Deighton and the 1965 movie starring Michael Caine, which gave the novel's unidentified protagonist the name Harry Palmer and created a couple of new characters who've been included in the television series. The show, which has been picked up for a second season, stars Joe Cole ("Peaky Blinders") as Harry Palmer and Lucy Boynton ("Bohemian Rhapsody") as Jean Courtney.
"Condor" had a weird life. A modern reimagining of James Grady's spy novel "Six Days of the Condor," the show was originally commissioned by the AT&T Audience Network, a forgotten channel that was exclusive to DirecTV. AT&T killed the network after ordering a second season, and the show was in limbo until Epix bought both seasons and ran the second season in the fall of 2021.
If the television networks are looking for ideas about which '70s movie thrillers to adapt next, we've got plenty of ideas. Start with "The Parallax View" (1974), then move on to "Marathon Man" (1976),"The Odessa File" (1974) and "The Conversation" (1974). Those are just the obvious ones, and there are plenty of other options if you know who to ask.
We'll have production and casting updates on "The Day of the Jackal" as they become available.
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