Save the Tiger (1973) Film Review B-

DIRECTOR: John G. Avildsen
BOTTOM LINE: Jack Lemmon and Jack Guilford go to see a porn movie at The Mayan, and there is a fashion show at The Biltmore. But the most fascinating thing about this movie is its attitude toward its one gay character. Fifty years ago, if you were gay, the center of the entertainment industry was not a friendly place.
A time capsule. A time capsule of how horrific it was to be a gay man in 1973. The head seamster, Meyer (William Hansen), has been through the Holocaust and pogroms back in the old country. Still, he cannot stand to work with The Fairy (heterosexual actor Harvey Jason) – HE CANNOT BE IN THE PLAYPEN WITH FAIRIES, EVEN TALENTED FAIRIES – who has designed the entire collection that Jack Lemmon and his partner Jack Gilford’s financially struggling Los Angeles apparel company Capri Casuals (Oh come on! Who is the real fairy here?) is completely dependent on to get through the next 12 months. The writer Steve Shagen, an educated Jew, is in the Stone Age when it comes to a human being who has a different sexual preference than himself. Again, it always amazes me that a tribe whose people have been so oppressed themselves and have such a passion for learning and the arts can be so virulently homophobic. Back in the seventies, gay men and women had to endure a parade of dykes and sissies trotted out by the supreme purveyors of Jewish humor Mel Brooks and Neil Simon. However, The Fairy is supposed to be a real person. A real character treated with absolute contempt by the man who created him. Meyer will not refer to his coworker by his given name, just The Fairy.
The sad thing is that there is a lot to admire about this movie, which was shot on location in the garment district of LA. Although Lemmon misses the mark, Jack Gilford is superb as the voice of reason, and Thayer David has a few choice moments as the arsonist in the movie theatre balcony with whom Lemmon and Gilford have a clandestine meeting as a porno movie plays in the background. The director is John G. Avildsen, who would win an Oscar for directing “Rocky.”

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