Jack Lemmon was in Europe filming Avanti! (1972) for director Billy Wilder when this film was edited and scored. A print was flown to show Lemmon and he invited Wilder to see it. Afterwards, Lemmon asked for Wilder's opinion. Wilder advised one change, cut out the scene in the film where Lemmon's character visits his mistress early in the story. Wilder felt it slowed down the momentum of the story. The scene was cut, the picture was released to box office success and Lemmon won a second Oscar.
Jack Lemmon admitted to having had a serious drinking problem at one time, which is one reason he looks back on his Oscar-winning role as Harry Stoner in Save the Tiger (1973) as perhaps the most gratifying, emotionally fulfilling performance of his career.
This movie was a project of the heart. A message movie never intended to be a box office smash and it was never a box office success. The picture was made for a small budget of only around US $1 million.
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.
Star Jack Lemmon was being touted as an Oscar candidate even before the film was released. On April 4th, Lemmon became the first performer in history to win both a "Best Actor" and "Best Supporting Actor" Academy Award (for Save the Tiger (1973) and Mister Roberts (1955) respectively).
The baseball players that Harry mentions are all Major League players from the 1930s and 1940s. He mentions both a 'Dolph Camilli' and a 'Lou Camilli'. 'Lou Camilli' is unlikely to be the Cleveland Indians player of 1969-1972, but more likely another reference to Dolph Camilli, whose full name was Adolph Louis Camilli.
Many movie posters for the film featured a long blurb that read: "Juggle the books. Set fire to the factory. Supply women for the clients. Harry Stoner will do anything to get one more season. Jack Lemmon in his most important dramatic role since Days of Wine and Roses (1962)".
According to Richard Harland Smith at the TCMDb Turner Classics Movies website, "[Jack] Lemmon had championed the project against the better judgment of Paramount, who wanted nothing to do with what was considered a message picture and a downer at that. After two years of lobbying, Lemmon, John G. Avildsen and Steve Shagan (who also signed on as a producer) were given a parsimonious one million dollar budget. To stretch the funds, Lemmon volunteered to work for union scale, at $165 per week plus a percentage of the profits".
Many cost cutting measures were used on the picture. These included using a Cinamobile Camera, a revolutionary mobile filming unit invented by former I Spy (1965) cameraman Fouad Said, which enabled filmmakers to keep location costs to a minimum.