Everything you always wanted to know about sex (but were afraid to ask) (film)

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex*
(*But Were Afraid to Ask)
File:Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex.jpg
Theatrical poster to Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask)
Directed by Woody Allen
Produced by Charles Joffe
Written by Woody Allen
Based on Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask) 
by David Reuben
Starring Woody Allen
Louise Lasser
John Carradine
Tony Randall
Burt Reynolds
Gene Wilder
Jack Barry
Erin Fleming
Lynn Redgrave
Regis Philbin
Heather MacRae
Music by Mundell Lowe
Editing by Eric Albertson
Distributed by United Artists
Release date(s) August 6, 1972
Running time 88 minutes
Language English
Budget $2 million
Box office $18,016,290[1]

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) (1972) is Woody Allen's fourth film as director, consisting of a series of short sequences loosely inspired by Dr. David Reuben's book of the same name.

The film was an early smash for Allen, grossing over $18 million in North America alone against a $2 million budget, making it the 13th highest grossing film of 1972.

Film structure

The credits at the start and close of the film are played over a backdrop of a large mass of white rabbits, to the tune of Let's Misbehave by Cole Porter.

The film is divided into seven vignettes, as follows:

  1. Do Aphrodisiacs Work?
    A court jester (Woody Allen) gives a love potion to the Queen (Lynn Redgrave) but is foiled by her chastity belt. There are references to Shakespeare's Hamlet throughout.
  2. What Is Sodomy?
    Dr. Ross (Gene Wilder) falls in love with the partner of an Armenian patient, a sheep.
  3. Why Do Some Women Have Trouble Reaching an Orgasm?
    Allen's homage to Italian film-making in general and Casanova 70, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Federico Fellini in particular, about Gina (Louise Lasser), a woman who can only reach orgasm in public.
  4. Are Transvestites Homosexuals?
    Sam Musgrave (Lou Jacobi), a middle-aged married man, experiments with women's clothes.
  5. What Are Sex Perverts?
    A parody of the television game show What's My Line? called What's My Perversion?, filmed in B&W kinescope-style and hosted by Jack Barry. The four panelists who attempt to guess the contestant's perversion are Regis Philbin, Robert Q. Lewis, Pamela Mason, and Toni Holt. After they fail to guess that the contestant's perversion is "Likes to expose himself on subways," a second segment of the show is presented, in which a selected viewer (in this case a rabbi) gets to act out his bondage and humiliation fantasy while his wife eats pork.
  6. Are the Findings of Doctors and Clinics Who Do Sexual Research and Experiments Accurate?
    Victor (Woody Allen), a researcher, and Helen Lacey (Heather MacRae), a journalist, visit a Dr. Bernardo (John Carradine), a researcher who formerly worked with Masters and Johnson but now has his own laboratory complete with a lab assistant named Igor (Ref Sanchez). After they see a series of bizarre sexual experiments underway at the lab and realize the researcher is insane, they escape before Helen becomes the subject of another of his experiments. The segment culminates with a scene in which the countryside is terrorized by a giant runaway breast created by the researcher. The first part of this segment is a parody of Ed Wood's Bride of the Monster, while the second part is a parody of "The Blob".
  7. What Happens During Ejaculation?
    The NASA-like mission control center in a man's brain (headed by Tony Randall and featuring Burt Reynolds as the switchboard operator) is seen, as he gets involved in a sexual clinch with an NYU graduate (Erin Fleming) (knowledge of which, assures coital success). As he achieves orgasm, the soldier-like, white-uniformed sperm (one of them played by bespectacled Allen) are dispatched paratrooper-style into the great unknown.


Critical response

The film holds an 89% "Fresh" rating of on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 19 reviews.[2]

An August 1972 review by Time said that many of the film's ideas "sound good on paper" but that the "skits wind down rather than take off from the ideas"; the film includes "some broad, funny send-ups of other movies (Fantastic Voyage, La notte), and its fair share of memorably wacky lines" but that "overall it is just Woody marking time and being merely a little funnier".[3]

The Time Out Film Guide noted that some of the film's sketches are "dross, but the parodies of Antonioni (all angst and alienation of a wife who can achieve orgasm only in public places) and of TV panel games ('What's My Perversion?') are brilliantly accurate and very funny. Best of all is the sci-fi parody entitled What Happens During Ejaculation?".[4]

In 2004, Christopher Null, founder of filmcritic.com, called it a "minor classic and Woody Allen's most absurd film ever".[5]

Cut sequence

A segment that was filmed but eventually cut out of the film was 'What Makes a Man a Homosexual?'. The sequence had a common spider (Woody Allen) and a black widow (Louise Lasser). After a mating dance on the black widow's web, the spiders make love and the black widow eats the common spider. Allen cut the sequence as he was unable to find a suitable ending for it.[6] Some still photographs of this sequence can be seen on some versions of the film's DVD cover.


External links

  • Internet Movie Database
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