Was there any film that was truly, madly and absolutely Fred Zinneman‘s? He did High Noon proud, but that 1952 western wasn’t Zinneman’s as much as it was screenwriter-producer Carl Foreman‘s. From Here to Eternity was well assembled by Zinneman, but it’s hard to see him as the auteur with Montgomery Clift, Burt Lancaster, screenwriter Daniel Taradash, Frank Sinatra and Deborah Kerr being so perfectly on their game. Likewise, A Man for All Seasons seemed more particularly empowered by the brilliance of screenwriter Robert Bolt and actors Paul Scofield, Roy Kinnear, John Hurt and Robert Shaw than by Zinneman’s solid, somewhat rote direction.
If there is a definitive Zinneman film, it is 1973’s The Day of the Jackal. I agree with David Poland that it was odd — curious — of Emanuel Levy to overlook this film in his Zinneman centennial essay. It is Zinneman’s best because it’s the most taut and well-honed film of his career. Its crisp, dry efficiency not only satisfies from an audience absorption perspective, but it also harmonizes with the arid efficiency of the “Jackal” assassin (Edward Fox). And don’t forget the exquisitely subtle sexiness of Delphine Seyrig as the 40ish woman of property whom Fox meets and beds at that small Southern France hotel.
A shot I took in May 2001 of the exact same beach, located on the east coast of Oahu, where Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr had their famous tryst in From Here to Eternity