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Save the Tiger (1973)

R | | Drama | 14 February 1973 (USA)
A disillusioned aging decent man and once proud WWII veteran is dealing with midlife crisis as well as a tough moral dilemma. If he wants his small near-bankrupt clothing company to survive, he has two days to let go of his shaken morals.




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Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Fred Mirrell
Janet Stoner
Charlie Robbins
William Hansen ...
Harvey Jason ...
Liv Lindeland ...
Ula (as Liv Von Linden)
Eloise Hardt ...
Janina ...
Sid Fivush
Pearl Shear ...
Tiger Petitioner (as Biff Elliott)


The film depicts a day and a half in Harry Stoner's life. Harry is down on his luck, and trapped in his own indulgences. He daydreams about his youth, trying to escape from the fact that business is rotten and his company owes bundles of money. His day is filled with unusual episodes as he picks up a hitchhiker/prostitute, arranges for his company's warehouse to burn down so he can collect the insurance-money, he hires strippers for his buddies and gets engaged in an animal rights campaign, a fashion show and experiences a rather uncomfortable flashback to the war. Written by Kristian Krokfoss <krokus@online.no>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Juggle the books. Set fire to the factory. Supply women for the clients. Harry Stoner will do anything to get one more season. See more »




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

14 February 1973 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Salven al tigre  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The picture was nominated for three Academy Awards including Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Jack Gilford and Best Writing, Story and Screenplay Based on Factual Material or Material Not Previously Published or Produced - Steve Shagan and won one Oscar, for Best Actor in a Leading Role - Jack Lemmon. See more »


Harry wipes Fred's face almost completely clean of the red body paint. In a subsequent shot, Fred's face is covered with red paint again. See more »


Harry Stoner: How old are you?
Myra: Twenty.
Harry Stoner: Nobody's twenty.
See more »


Referenced in Mike & Mike: Episode dated 30 August 2016 (2016) See more »


Air Mail Special
Composed by Jim Mundy, Benny Goodman & Charlie Christian
See more »

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User Reviews

A Movie You Can Watch Many Times and Always Enjoy
16 January 2007 | by (western US) – See all my reviews

"Save the Tiger" is a great movie, perhaps because its strongest moments come in rather conventional situations where the believable characters are realistically profane but never gratuitously vulgar, which is a common failing in today's films. Some might call this unpretentious realism "slow pacing," but I don't think there's anything "slow" about it unless your attention wavers with anything less engaging than several gruesome deaths or graphic sex scenes per hour. On the contrary, I find this interesting flick to be sophisticated and entertaining. Having seen it at a theater when it first came out, and then having watched a heavily censored TV version on numerous occasions since that time, I rented the new DVD and was once again blown away by the original, uncensored script.

The often biting interplay between pragmatic businessman, Harry Stoner (played by Jack Lemmon), and his more idealistic partner, Phil Greene (played by Jack Gilford) supplies among the film's most dramatic moments as they wrestle with a rather drastic solution designed to keep "Capri Casuals" afloat for another season. Equally effective is the gritty exchange between Stoner and a kinky Midwestern buyer who becomes adamant that he be supplied with a favored prostitute as a precondition for placing his usual generous order. Stoner's attempts to discourage him prove fruitless and only make him more determined to get what he wants. Facing this unexpected resistance, the client pleads, "I need these little diversions," explaining that his wife is, "a sick woman all scarred up from all those damn operations."

But the callgirl is all booked up for the day. "That's a very popular lady," Stoner explains. "Why didn't you call me from Cleveland?" "Harry," the client responds, beginning to lose his cool, "I don't make calls like that from Cleveland." When Stoner makes one last attempt to weasel out of pimp duty by bringing up the expense involved, the client finally blows his stack. "You rotten son of a bitch," he cries. "The whole goddamn thing is a write off! I throw my heart across your desk and you're giving me cost!" Suddenly, Phil pops into the office and things cool down immediately. This is good stuff.

As well, the tension boiling over between the old Jewish cutter and the pompous gay designer provide grist for some brief fireworks. Another high point is Stoner's interaction with a naive young hippie girl named Myra who hitches a ride with him down Sunset Blvd. She at first comes off as rather superficially and stereotypically drawn, but in time becomes more appealing, offering Harry non-judgmental affection with no strings attached and a temporary refuge from the pressures and stresses that are edging him ever closer to a nervous breakdown. In contrast, while he's obviously cracking up, the only attention he gets from his concerned yet emotionally distant wife is, "Go see Dr. Frankfurter." A guy in a white coat named "hotdog" is supposed to fix him right up? Gee, I don't think so. Why doesn't she try putting out a little more?

The scenes in the porno theater with the cool and efficient arsonist are also good, as is the one in which Stoner's bitter memories from WWII surface rather inconveniently while he's onstage, attempting to address the assembled buyers at the all-important fashion show. There, he suffers a disturbing hallucination in which audience members are suddenly replaced by his fallen comrades in Charlie Company who died at Anzio. His grip on "reality" takes a serious nosedive right in front of his potential clients. I suspect that scene is considered the best one by professional critics and members of the Academy, but ironically, it is my least favorite moment. In any case, Jack Lemmon has so many good scenes in this movie that it is difficult to single out any one of them as the best. In my most recent viewing, I got the biggest kick out of one of the early scenes, in which Lemmon imitates the windup and delivery of a great pitcher from the good old days, his fond memories of baseball and jazz being all that inspire him anymore.

When you want to see a good movie from the past, cue this one up. It never gets old.

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