Save the Tiger John G. Avildsen

It wasn't all masterpieces and cocaine parties in the glamour-studded '70s — sometimes things settled into a paunchy mid-life crisis like this forgotten Oscar nominee of '73. Best Actor winner Jack Lemmon stars as the owner of a faltering dress factory who's wondering what it's all about. America has been discredited, he's settled for mere survival and nothing is making sense any more. Resigned to cooking the books and maybe a little arson, he drifts through a day procuring hookers for a client (which results in a heart attack), bickering with his cutter and fashion designer, and staring longingly at the comely hitchhiker (Laurie Heinemann) who's riding up and down the Boulevard for no reason. In short, it's one of those movies that can't decide whether it's all attitudes or actually about something. To its credit is the relentlessly bleak depiction of working at something you no longer care about, with Lemmon morosely going about his crooked business with nothing left to hope for, but of course it has to parachute Jack Gilford in as his would-be conscience and a lot of ham-fisted imagery involving Lemmon's WWII trauma. Just when you think it's down for the count, it lucks into something genuinely resonant; just when you think it's back on track, it derails completely with male menopause sentiments. Most annoying is its simultaneous hatred of and nostalgia for the American mentality and its wistful longing for a simpler world that never really was. Nevertheless, it's got plenty of stuff you don't see in other movies and is a fine example of John G. Avildsen's cynicism before he about-faced with Rocky and became king of the inspirationals. (Paramount)