SAVE THE TIGER (1973)
There was a time when Jack Lemmon was known primarily for goofy, energetic comedy. His over-the-top performances in films like Mister Roberts and Some Like It Hot made him one of the most sought-after comedic actors of his generation. As so many comic actors do, Lemmon slowly began to move into drama, starting with Billy Wilder's The Apartment and continuing into The Days of Wine and Roses. But perhaps Lemon's crowning dramatic achievement came is his Oscar-winning performance in Save the Tiger. As Harry Stoner, a clothing manufacturer fallen on hard times, Jack Lemmon embraces the quiet sadness of a man slowly dying inside. Harry starts the film disheartened and slowly deflates, until he is really just a shell of a man. He wanders through the film, looking at his life, deeply confused. What happened to the cheery, optimistic world in which he grew up? How did it change so drastically? How did he end up this way? As Harry struggles to find answers to these questions, we are treated to a truly wonderful performance, as Lemmon crafts a character that is both world-weary and naive, deceitful yet somehow blameless. Harry Stoner is a man of deep contradictions, which could have been a problem for a lesser actor, but Lemmon manages to take these seemingly-incompatible character traits and find the inner core that holds them together.