Save the Tiger
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|Save the Tiger|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John G. Avildsen|
|Produced by||Steve Shagan|
|Written by||Steve Shagan|
|Edited by||David Bretherton|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$2,300,000 (rentals)|
Save the Tiger is a 1973 film about moral conflict in contemporary America. It stars Jack Lemmon, Jack Gilford, Laurie Heineman, Thayer David, Lara Parker and Liv Lindeland. The film was directed by John G. Avildsen. The screenplay was adapted by Steve Shagan from his novel of the same title (the first book by the author of The Formula and other thrillers, and generally regarded to be his most successful novel by literary standards).
Lemmon won the 1973 Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Harry Stoner (making him the first of six actors to win Oscars for both Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor), an executive at a Los Angeles apparel company on the edge of ruin. Throughout the film, Stoner struggles with the complexity of modern life versus the simplicity of his youth. He longs for the days when pitchers wound up, jazz filled the air, and the flag was more than a pattern to put on a pants pocket. He wrestles with the guilt of surviving the war and yet losing touch with the ideals for which his friends died. To Harry Stoner, the world has given up on integrity, and threatens to destroy anyone who clings to it. He is caught between watching everything he has worked for evaporate, or becoming another grain of sand in the erosion of the values he once held so dear.
The film's main character is Harry Stoner (Jack Lemmon), an executive at an apparel company close to ruin. With no legal way to keep the company from going under, Stoner considers torching his warehouse for the insurance settlement. The arson is agreed to very reluctantly by his partner (Jack Gilford), a stable family man who watches Harry's decline with alarm. Through it all, Harry drinks, laments the state of the world, and tries his best to keep the business rolling as usual. This last task is complicated when a client has a heart attack in the arms of a prostitute provided by Stoner. With nerves still shaky, Stoner takes the stage at the premiere of his company's new line, only to be overcome by war memories. He ends the day spontaneously deciding to go home with a young, free-spirited girl hitchhiker, whose ignorance of his generation underscores his isolation from the world around him.
Production and reception
The movie was written by Steve Shagan and directed by John G. Avildsen. Lemmon was determined to make the movie, despite its limited commercial prospects, and so he waived his usual salary and worked for scale. The movie was filmed in sequence after three weeks of rehearsal in Los Angeles. There is also a novel version of Save the Tiger, by Shagan: the title comes from a campaign to save tigers from extinction to which Stoner contributes. The movie failed financially at the box office, but critics and viewers who saw it liked the Oscar-winning performance of Jack Lemmon as Stoner.
Award wins and nominations
- Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role – Jack Lemmon
- Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay – Steve Shagan
- Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor – Jack Gilford
- Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay – Steve Shagan
- Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama
- Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture Actor (Drama) – Jack Lemmon
- Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Jack Gilford