Although I’m a bit behind the times, I’ve become a big fan of Jack Lemmon over the last few years — starting with Billy Wilder classics like The Apartment and Some Like It Hot and then leaping at a chance to watch him in anything I can. What luck that Imprint has given boutique-release treatment to Save the Tiger, the 1973 film for which Lemmon won his second Academy Award for Best Actor. While the film itself is somewhat lacking, Lemmon’s turn is wholly worthy of that award.
He plays Harry Stoner, owner of an L.A. fashion company that’s not quite in the black. Harry is stressed. He’s having World War II flashbacks. To paraphrase Grandpa Simpson: Harry used to be with it, but then they changed what “it” was. Now what Harry’s with isn’t “it” anymore and what’s “it” seems weird and scary. The film spans several days of Harry trying to right the company and his existential woes but sliding further down a slippery slope. Although a worthy insight into early-1970s concerns in America, Tiger fails to land any of its ideas or themes in a meaningful way (compared to, say, Midnight Cowboy). Still, Lemmon’s amazing performance carries the film, finding a way to ground a morally bleak, often repugnant human being — perhaps one too far gone to come back.
The 1080p transfer is lovely, and as is Imprint’s way, they have gone above and beyond with extra features for a niche film. There’s a new audio commentary by film historian Daniel Kremer, along with an existing one from director John Avildsen and producer-screenwriter Steve Shagan. Additionally, there is a video essay from Kremer and a smattering of new and vintage interviews. It’s all presented in a clean slipcase. While Save the Tiger will be outside the wheelhouse for most viewers, it’s definitely worthwhile for fans of Lemmon and / or 1970s Hollywood.