Save the Tiger (1973)

R | 99-100 mins | Drama | February 1973

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HISTORY

Steve Shagan's onscreen credit reads "Written and produced by." According to contemporary news items, Shagan's script for Save the Tiger , which was his first for a feature film, was first acquired by Cinema Center Productions in Nov 1970. Various news items in 1972 reported that Shagan had turned his script for the film into a novel. The novel was published in late Nov 1972, after the film had been completed but before its release. Co-production company Jalem Productions, Inc. was owned by Jack Lemmon.
       As noted in the pressbook and other contemporary sources, the film was shot on location throughout Los Angeles, including the downtown garment district, Chinatown and Beverly Hills, CA. A number of scenes take place along Sunset Blvd. and at a house on the beach in Malibu. The pressbook noted that the Tudor style house owned by "Harry Stoner" was located on No. Alden Drive in Beverly Hills, and a 16 Apr 1972 LAT article stated that the park in the final scenes was Roxbury Park in Beverly Hills. Most of the film's action takes place during the course of one day, from the time Harry wakes up in the morning until late that night. The remaining scenes take place in the morning of the next day.
       According to an article in The Times (London) on 23 Jun 1973, at one time Marcello Mastroianni was considered for the lead, and the setting was to be either Italy or France. Laurie Heineman, who previously acted on television, made her motion picture debut as "Myra." In a scene in a hotel bar, a clip from the 1940 ... More Less

Steve Shagan's onscreen credit reads "Written and produced by." According to contemporary news items, Shagan's script for Save the Tiger , which was his first for a feature film, was first acquired by Cinema Center Productions in Nov 1970. Various news items in 1972 reported that Shagan had turned his script for the film into a novel. The novel was published in late Nov 1972, after the film had been completed but before its release. Co-production company Jalem Productions, Inc. was owned by Jack Lemmon.
       As noted in the pressbook and other contemporary sources, the film was shot on location throughout Los Angeles, including the downtown garment district, Chinatown and Beverly Hills, CA. A number of scenes take place along Sunset Blvd. and at a house on the beach in Malibu. The pressbook noted that the Tudor style house owned by "Harry Stoner" was located on No. Alden Drive in Beverly Hills, and a 16 Apr 1972 LAT article stated that the park in the final scenes was Roxbury Park in Beverly Hills. Most of the film's action takes place during the course of one day, from the time Harry wakes up in the morning until late that night. The remaining scenes take place in the morning of the next day.
       According to an article in The Times (London) on 23 Jun 1973, at one time Marcello Mastroianni was considered for the lead, and the setting was to be either Italy or France. Laurie Heineman, who previously acted on television, made her motion picture debut as "Myra." In a scene in a hotel bar, a clip from the 1940 Warner Bros. production High Sierra (see above), in which actors Humphrey Bogart and Barton MacLane can be seen, is shown on the bar television. HR charts add Richard Bull to the cast, but his appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Modern sources include Tony Regan, Leoda Richards, Jeffrey Sayre and Ken Weiner in the cast.
       The title Save the Tiger is referenced during the film when Harry leaves the movie theater and a man asks him to sign a petition to save an endangered species of tiger. At other junctures in the film, allusions are made to dying tigers or lions. At the time of the film's production, there was a well-known, but unrelated, ad campaign conducted by the Exxon Oil Co., which had recently changed its name from Esso Oil. Capitalizing on Esso's corporate logo of a tiger and a popular ad campaign from the late 1960s, "Put a tiger in your tank," Exxon promoted a tongue-in-check attempt to "save the tiger" from being abandoned.
       Although the film received mixed reviews, primarily due to its depressing plot, both Lemmon and Jack Gilford received excellent notices for their performances. Lemmon received an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role, and Gilford received a nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Shagan received the film's third nomination, for Best Original Screenplay. Throughout the years, Lemmon often was quoted as saying that Harry Stoner was his favorite screen role, although it was one that was very difficult to play and was impossible to shake off during filming. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
12 Feb 1973
p. 4563.
Daily Variety
23 Nov 1970.
---
Daily Variety
29 Dec 1971.
---
Daily Variety
22 Nov 1972.
---
Filmfacts
1973
pp. 29-33.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Feb 1972
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Feb 1972.
---
Hollywood Reporter
10 Mar 1972.
---
Hollywood Reporter
31 Mar 1972
p. 3, 19.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Apr 1972.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Apr 1972
Calendar, p. 1, 19.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jan 1973.
---
Los Angeles Times
11 Feb 1973
Calendar, p. 1, 24-25, 75.
Motion Picture Herald
3 Feb 1973.
---
New Republic
10 Mar 1973
p. 28.
New York Times
15 Feb 1973
p. 53.
Saturday Review
Feb 1973.
---
The Times (London)
23 Jun 1973.
---
Variety
7 Feb 1973
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Martin Ransohoff production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst cam
Asst cam
Key grip
Grip
Gaffer
Stills
Best boy
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Asst prop master
Leadman
Swing gang
Const coord
COSTUMES
Fashion show ward from
MUSIC
Mus scored and cond
SOUND
Boom op
Sd cable
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles, opticals & processing by
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod mgr
Fashion show consultant
Scr supv
Transportation capt
Secy to prod-dir
Secy to production man
Dial coach
Auditor
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Air Mail Special," composed by Jimmie Mundy, Benny Goodman and Charlie Christian
"Stompin' at the Savoy," composed by Benny Goodman, Chick Webb and Edgar Sampson
"I Can't Get Started," composed by Vernon Duke and Ira Gershwin, original Bunny Berigan recording through courtesy of RCA Records.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Release Date:
February 1973
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 14 February 1973
Production Date:
14 February--1 April 1972
Copyright Claimants:
Paramount Pictures Corp. Filmways, Inc. Jalem Productions, Inc. Cirandinha Productions, Inc.
Copyright Dates:
3 November 1972 3 November 1972 3 November 1972 3 November 1972
Copyright Numbers:
LP41832 LP41832 LP41832 LP41832
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Lenses/Prints
Prints by Movielab; cameras and lenses by Panavision
Duration(in mins):
99-100
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
23319
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Middle-aged Los Angeles clothing manufacturer Harry Stoner is anxious over his business’ finances and the high cost of the lifestyle that he and his wife Janet have in Beverly Hills. Waking up from a bad dream, Harry laments to Janet that he needs "two hundred bucks a day" just to get up every morning, but then suggests that they fly to Switzerland to visit their teenaged daughter, who is attending finishing school. Janet is about to leave for a trip to New York to go to her uncle's funeral, but suggests that Harry, who is rambling about the past, needs to see a psychiatrist, then turns down his suggestion that they make love. On the way to his office, Harry drives along Sunset Blvd., where he picks up Myra, a young hippie. Although Harry is amused and flattered when the twenty-year-old asks him if he "wants to ball," he declines and wishes her a nice day when he drops her off. Later, at his downtown factory, everyone is busy and tense because of the buyer's show that afternoon, which is critically important to their business, Capri Casuals. After trying to settle an argument between homosexual designer Rico and elderly Jewish pattern cutter Meyer, Harry talks with his partner, Phil Greene, about their dire financial straights. Fearful that their creative arithmetic with the company's books the previous year would result in fraud charges if they were audited, and knowing that the bank is threatening foreclosure, Harry insists that their only way out is to hire professional arsonist Charlie Robbins to set fire to their under-utilized Long Beach factory. Both Harry and Phil know ... +


Middle-aged Los Angeles clothing manufacturer Harry Stoner is anxious over his business’ finances and the high cost of the lifestyle that he and his wife Janet have in Beverly Hills. Waking up from a bad dream, Harry laments to Janet that he needs "two hundred bucks a day" just to get up every morning, but then suggests that they fly to Switzerland to visit their teenaged daughter, who is attending finishing school. Janet is about to leave for a trip to New York to go to her uncle's funeral, but suggests that Harry, who is rambling about the past, needs to see a psychiatrist, then turns down his suggestion that they make love. On the way to his office, Harry drives along Sunset Blvd., where he picks up Myra, a young hippie. Although Harry is amused and flattered when the twenty-year-old asks him if he "wants to ball," he declines and wishes her a nice day when he drops her off. Later, at his downtown factory, everyone is busy and tense because of the buyer's show that afternoon, which is critically important to their business, Capri Casuals. After trying to settle an argument between homosexual designer Rico and elderly Jewish pattern cutter Meyer, Harry talks with his partner, Phil Greene, about their dire financial straights. Fearful that their creative arithmetic with the company's books the previous year would result in fraud charges if they were audited, and knowing that the bank is threatening foreclosure, Harry insists that their only way out is to hire professional arsonist Charlie Robbins to set fire to their under-utilized Long Beach factory. Both Harry and Phil know that their current season's clothing line is good enough to generate high sales to keep them afloat for another year, but they need at least $142,000 in cash to fill orders. Phil is adamantly against committing a felony and thinks that there are other options, but Harry insists that collecting insurance from the fire is the only way out. As they are arguing, one of their long-time clients, Fred Mirrell, arrives at Harry's office. Fred, whose wife is ill, looks forward to his annual visit to Los Angeles for meetings arranged by Harry with Margo, a high-end call girl. Although Margo complains to Harry on a telephone call that she is too busy for Fred's involved sexual rituals, under pressure to close a lucrative deal with Fred, Harry talks Margo into meeting the buyer that afternoon. Minutes later, as Harry waits for Phil to join him for lunch, his mind wanders and he starts to recite the names of retired baseball players. At lunch, Harry worries Phil as he talks about World War II, when his unit landed on the beach at Anzio and laments that when he recently visited, the beach where so many men once died was "covered with bikinis." After lunch, while waiting in the hotel bar for their show to start, Harry gets an urgent call from Margo. Harry and Phil immediately rush up to the room, where Fred has had a heart attack during his sexual encounter with Margo and another woman. Even though Margo's mouth-to-mouth resuscitation has kept Fred alive, Harry lashes out at her for not being "professional" and barks that Fred is "a casualty." After shocking Phil by callously saying that he should have gotten Fred's order first, Harry finally tells Phil to call an ambulance and have the hospital bill sent to him. Still stunned and disoriented when he goes downstairs to the buyer's show, Harry steps up to the podium to speak but starts to imagine members of the audience as comrades who died at Anzio. As he becomes increasingly incoherent, the show moderator takes over, after which Harry is greeted backstage by stunned silence and uncomfortable glances. Despite Harry’s behavior, the show is a great success, prompting mob loan shark Sid Fivush to offer Phil an immediate advance to cover what they need. Phil thinks that they should take the loan, but Harry balks at paying outrageous mob interest and insists that Charlie is their only hope of making their year. Despite his misgivings, Phil accompanies Harry to the meeting with Charlie in the balcony of a pornographic movie theater. They give Charlie a $2,500 retainer, and Charlie arranges another meeting for 10:00 the next morning, allowing him a chance to look at the Long Beach factory that night. Later, after hearing that Fred may pull through, Harry has a drink with Margo in the hotel bar. He apologizes for his outburst and suggests that they have dinner some time, professional to professional, but Margo, who likes Harry, knows that he is not interested in her. Before leaving for the night, Harry goes to speak with Meyer, who has been trying to talk to him all day. Meyer, a happy man who still has dreams, despite being a holocaust survivor, initially tells Harry that he is too old to play Rico’s games, but after realizing how lonely and unhappy Harry is, agrees to stay on. Driving home that night, Harry sees Myra again and offers her another ride. She is house-sitting in Malibu and suggests that he take her there, where they can smoke marijuana. After they make love and smoke, Harry begins to ramble about World War II, then suggests a word game in which they take turns saying names of celebrities of their respective eras. As Harry becomes increasingly obsessed with reciting names, a concerned Myra asks if there is something he wants and he replies that he wants to be in love with something again. The next morning, Harry goes onto the beach and looks out at the ocean, imagining the screams of wounded soldiers at Anzio. Before leaving he tries to give Myra money, but she gently refuses, saying that she did not make love to him for money. Later, at their meeting in the movie theater balcony, Charlie returns his retainer to Harry and Phil, telling them that the deal is off because there are so many obvious fire regulations that have been broken that the insurance company would never pay their claim. After telling them that fixing the problems would take months, Charlie suggests that he could start a flash fire in the shirt factory below them that would destroy the Capri Casual plant but leave the other factory relatively unscathed. That way, they would be paid immediately because the fire started elsewhere. Phil is still concerned and asks for assurances that no one would be hurt, insulting Charlie's sense of professionalism. After Charlie leaves to allow them to talk things over, Harry and Phil continue to argue, until Phil reluctantly gives in. In the theater lobby, Harry tells Charlie that if anything happens, he has never heard of Phil, then adds that he should do it Sunday, when Phil goes fishing. After leaving the theater, Harry wanders to a park in which some boys are playing baseball. When the ball lands near him, Harry picks it up then throws it back, using the old fashioned pitcher's wind-up. Because the ball then flies too far over the boys' heads for them to catch it, one of them asks why he did that, and Harry replies, he thought that they should see it, just once. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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