The movie I chose to analyze is Save The Tiger. The movie revolves around Harry Stoner (Jack Lemmon) and his life as his company nears ruin. The biggest issue facing Stoner is what he will do to keep himself afloat as his company begins to fall apart. It is a strange position to be in as it is at this point, when money and coldly logical decisions need to be made, when ethics matter the most. It is easy for a person to be ‘good’ and attempt to become a better person when everything is going their way but when trouble comes and hard choices need to be made, a person needs to look clearly at all the available options and choose the one which is not only the most beneficial to himself but also to the people associated with him.
Stoner displays all the signs of depression when the movie begins. He drinks heavily and day-dreams about his earlier days when things were much better for him. He is clearly unstable as he does things he would not normally do such as pick up a hitchhiker and a prostitute. It is at this time that he comes up with the plan to burn down his company’s warehouse (he runs an apparel company and it is easy to frame an arson attempt in a warehouse full of clothes) and collect the insurance on it. This is clearly defrauding a company and would cause huge damage not only to himself but also to his associates, particularly his business associate Phil Greene (Jack Gilford), who is a stable family man. At points like these it is difficult to say who is a good employee or what kind of behavior can be called good because it is a choice between two evils – his own ruin or the ruin of another person. This means that decisions are not based what people perceive as good and bad ethics but on how one can survive in a lose-lose situation. The entire situation – ranging from the hitchhiker’s youth and ignorance of Stoner’s way of life to his dying business isolates Stoner from the real world. Stoner gets involved with animal rights campaigns, especially one dealing with tigers, and follows the campaign, though it leads nowhere. The whole point of the film was to create an existential scenario for a businessman and conjecture on what his reactions might be. There are no clear answers as to what should be done and plenty of questions are asked.
Save The Tiger, dir. John G. Avildsen. Perf. Jack Lemmon, Jack Gilford and Laurie
Heineman, 1973. Film.