Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy, A (1982)

Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy, A (1982)

“Only a drunken, infantile idiot shoots himself over love — not an internist.”

An amateur inventor (Woody Allen) and his wife (Mary Steenburgen) invite two couples — a womanizing doctor (Tony Roberts) and his free-thinking nurse (Julie Hagerty), and a renowned philosopher (Jose Ferrer) and his beautiful fiancee (Mia Farrow) — to spend the weekend with them at their country estate, where cross-couple lust causes sexual mayhem.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Infidelity
  • Jose Ferrer Films
  • Mary Steenburgen Films
  • Mia Farrow Films
  • Romantic Comedy
  • Sexuality
  • Woody Allen Films

Considered by many to be one of Woody Allen’s lesser films, A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy (inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s Smiles of a Summer Night, 1955) is actually an innocuously enjoyable trifle, guaranteed to please Allen’s diehard fans — particularly those disappointed by his recent spate of non-stop misses. Allen’s ensemble cast is nicely chosen, with wide-eyed Julie Hagerty particularly delightful as a sexually “modern” woman:

and Jose Ferrer (what inspired casting!) offering a refreshing dose of arrogant refinement to the proceedings.

Despite its title and topic, Midsummer… is actually rather innocent of sexual content — while sex is discussed ad infinitum, the most we ever see on-screen are gropings and kisses. Allen’s occasional use of supernatural touches (including a flying bicycle and a “spirit machine”):

… may turn some off, but these elements ultimately just add to the charm of this feel-good tale about love and lust, which ends on a surprisingly happy note for all involved.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Julie Hagerty as Nurse Dulcy
  • Jose Ferrer as Leopold Sturgis
  • Gordon Willis’s luminous cinematography

Must See?
No, but it’s recommended, and certainly must-see for Woody Allen completists.


One thought on “Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy, A (1982)

  1. Not a must.

    Seeing this again now (I don’t think I’d seen it since its initial release), my thoughts on it haven’t really changed. I agree that it’s innocuous but I don’t find it all that enjoyable. There’s little by way of memorable dialogue (very surprising for Allen); the various couplings and endless prattle re: same serve (to quote Anthony Perkins in ‘Psycho’) “to pass the time–not fill it.”

    Inspiration resulted in a perfect cast and sumptuous photography (almost like Storaro shooting ‘Luna’, Willis seems to have decided to make his own movie). The script, though, follows a train of thought structurally yet still manages to meander.

    Some Allen fans may find it pleasant, light entertainment, but it’s rather forgettable.

    A moment I was moved by, oddly: Roberts has just arrived with Hagerty and he and Allen are walking by themselves discussing a different topic; Allen suddenly puts his palms to his face in despair of his marriage. To me, it’s a very real moment.

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