16 Dec 2009

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask)

Next is a film which really should be the definition of a sex comedy, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask).

Woody Allen's adaptation of a best selling sex manual is a series of short stories or vignettes, if you would prefer, featuring Woody Allen in various roles, John Carradine, Anthony Quayle and Lynn Redgrave and Gene Wilder.

The stories all cover various sexual quirks, perversions, temptations and discharges:

1. Do Aphrodisiacs Work?
In which a court jester gives a love potion to a Queen but is foiled by her chastity belt. There are references to Shakespeare's Hamlet throughout.
2. What is Sodomy?
In which a doctor falls in love with the partner of an Armenian patient. His sheep.
3. Why Do Some Women Have Trouble Reaching an Orgasm?
About a woman who can only reach orgasm in public. Allen's homage to Italian film-making in general and Casanova 70, Michelangelo Antonioni and Federico Fellini in particular.
4. Are Transvestites Homosexuals?
In which a middle-aged married man experiments with women's clothes.
5. What Are Sex Perverts?
Which features a parody of the game show What's My Line? called What's My Perversion? After the panel fail to guess that the contestant's perversion is "Likes to expose himself on a subway", a second segment of the show is presented, in which a rabbi gets to act out his bondage and humiliation fantasy.
6. Are the Findings of Doctors and Clinics Who Do Sexual Research and Experiments Accurate?
In which a researcher and journalist visit a sexual scientist. After they see a series of bizarre sexual experiments underway at the lab and realize the scientist is insane. The segment culminates with a scene in which the countryside is terrorized by a giant runaway breast created by the researcher.
7. What Happens During Ejaculation?
Which is set in a man's brain (and other parts of the body)m a la the beano's numbskulls, as he gets involved in a sexual clinch. We see the NASA-like control center in the man's brain (headed by Tony Randall and Burt Reynolds) and see the soldier-like sperm as they are dispatched paratrooper-style into the great unknown.

This film was very successful at the time but I think it is the weakest of his 1970s output. It's not just that so many of the jokes are from a seventies time-capsual of outdated sexual preconceptions, but some of the stories peeter out a little.

But it's still a gag-fest and all of Allen's characters are perfectly played. The best story? Well the Gene Wilder sheep-love tale one is played so straight its hard to tell if you want to laugh or cry. However, the inner workings of mans body during courtship, seduction and intercourse, steals it. Especially when the black sperm turns up!

Allen the Jester seduces the queen.....

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