“With most grievous dispatch, I shall open the latch to get at her snatch!”
Seven humorous vignettes poke fun at a famous sexology book.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Episodic Films
- Gene Wilder Films
- John Carradine Films
- Lynn Redgrave Films
- Tony Randall Films
- Woody Allen Films
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary notes that critics at the time were divided in their response to this early Woody Allen film, which “severely tested audience’s embarrassment level much as Lenny Bruce did years before”. These days, of course, we’re so inured to discussing anything and everything related to sex that the vignettes will hardly get a rise out of most audience members — with the possible exception of “What is Sodomy?”, in which a doctor (marvelously played by Gene Wilder) falls in love with an Armenian sheep named Daisy. I think this may be the most thorough (albeit satirical) treatment that zoophilia has ever received on the big screen.
As with every episodic film, some segments are more amusing than others — for instance, “Are Transvestites Homosexuals?”, in which a middle-aged man (Lou Jacobi) dresses up in women’s clothing, falls completely flat. But the rest have at least a few moments of hilarity, with Allen managing to satirize multiple genres — including television game shows (“What’s My Perversion?”), space exploration (“What Happens During Ejaculation?”), sci-fi/monster flicks (“Are the Findings of Doctors and Clinics Who Do Sexual Research Accurate?”), medieval historical dramas (“Do Aphrodisiacs Work?”), and Italian cinema (“Do Some Women Have Trouble Reaching Orgasm?”) — within the space of just 87 minutes. Although he’s made some real clunkers in the past few years, Allen’s early comedic genius is indisputable.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- The truly hilarious final vignette, in which a group of white-clad sperm (the ever-neurotic Allen among them) get ready for blast-off
- Gene Wilder as the sheep-loving doctor
- Lynn Redgrave adding “-st” to the end of nearly every word she says
- Woody Allen as a too-cool Italian lover in spiffy shades
- “What’s My Perversion?” game show spoof
- An enormous milk-spouting breast roaming the country and wreaking havoc
Yes. Although not all segments are equally funny, this is an unusual entry in Allen’s oeuvre, and well worth checking out.
2 thoughts on “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex *But Were Afraid to Ask (1972)”
Yes – a must, for its considerable comedic range and unique, inventive structure. If I’m home when it’s on tv, I tune in–even if for part of it. So much is in the mix here that shortcomings are overshadowed by inspired silliness–this is one very silly movie, and it can lift your spirits if that’s what’s needed. Many jokes linger (I may be paraphrasing): Redgrave–“Didst thou uponeth my body cop a feel?”; mad doctor Carradine–“I’m going to take the brain of a lesbian and put it into the body of a man who works for the telephone company!”; lovestruck Wilder’s film ref–“I love our L-shaped room.” My partner’s favorite is the rabbi’s ‘dominatrix’: “You’ve been a very naughty rabbi!”–while the rabbi’s wife eats pork. I know you consider the Jacobi sequence ‘flat’ but he’s such an unexpected choice and his facial expressions alone make it work for me, esp. when some women are ‘comforting’ him after ‘his’ purse is stolen and he responds, “Well, what are you going to do? Kids today…” I rate this among Allen’s best work. [Until after ‘Manhattan Murder Mystery’, I remained a rather loyal Allen fan. I went to ‘Interiors’ when none of my friends wanted to and, oddly enough, my favorite Allen film is the non-comedy ‘Stardust Memories’. After skipping several more recent films, then diving back in for ‘Anything Else’, however, I unfortunately declared, “That’s it; I’m done!” So sad what has happened to Allen, really.]
My “over Woody Allen” realization began when I went to see “Deconstructing Harry” in the theater — I had just spent weeks watching all of Allen’s older classics on video, and was terribly excited to see his latest film on the big screen. While critics seemed to love “Harry” (indeed, it’s listed in “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”!), I was disappointed — too much cynicism, and Allen’s prototypical self-referential humor felt over-the-top to me here. After this, it was hit-and-miss — I liked “Sweet and Lowdown” quite a bit, and thought “Small Time Crooks” was hilarious; but I got so annoyed by “Hollywood Ending” that I turned it off midway (something I rarely do). I haven’t given up all hope on Allen, but I certainly won’t rush out to see his latest film without hesitation…