EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX, But were afraid to ask, 1971
Starring: Woody Allen, Gene Wilder, Burt Reynolds, John Carradine, Louise Lasser, Tony Randall, Lynn Redgrave, Jack Barry
Seven segments related to one another only in that they all purport to be based on sections of the book by David Reuben. The segments range from "Do Aphrodisiacs Work?" in which a court jester gives an aphrodisiac to the Queen and is, in the end, beheaded to "What Happens During Ejaculation?" in which we watch 'control central' during a successful seduction.
Whatever your personal opinion of Woody Allen is, there is no escaping from the fact that many of films are regarded in such high-esteem that they are seen as classics. And this movie is no different as the way in which the questions posed in David Reuben’s book of the same name are then portrayed onto the silver screen which provide nothing but hilarity.
In all, there are seven segments which each pose questions about sexuality which includes “What happens during ejaculation?”, “Are Transvestites Homosexual?” and “What is Sodomy?” Nearly all of them sees Woody featuring at some point and he appears in a number of forms such as a sperm, a participant in a sexual experiment where he is chased by a giant breast and as an Italian lothario. Not only does the film star Woody but Gene ‘Willy Wonka’ appears as a doctor who falls in love with a sheep and Burt Reynolds as the switchboard operator working inside a human body.
The film was an early success for Woody as it grossed a large amount of money. With a budget of $2million, it grossed over $18million which paved the way for his future hits to become apparent. Although Woody did have successful films prior to this, such as “Take the Money and Run” in 1969, its commercial success showed executives that Woody’s type of comedy was popular not just with a cult audience but mainstream.
Woody’s co-stars also shine as well. It is likely that when Gene Wilder decided that he wanted to be an actor he thought he would perform the likes of Shakespeare. But here, his role of Dr. Ross is very funny as he romances a sheep after a patient of his says that he is in love with the same creature.
The same can be said with Lynn Redgrave as she plays the role of The Queen in a medical romp where Woody tries to woo her in the segment “Do Aphrodisiacs Work?” This stellar cast shows Woody’s early appeal and that even at this early point in his career he was attracting leading people of his generation to appear in his projects.
Unlike his later films when he experimented with the camera direction, its static movement allows for a conventional cinematic capture but this allows for the comedy to be maximised as the action does all the talking and not the camera operator. There is minimal use of close ups and this is present in many of Woody’s films. After all, Woody has spent a great deal of time writing the script and for it to be affected by unnecessary camera movements show a great director albeit in his formative years.
A critical success as well as a financial one, “Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask” demonstrates Woody in a period of his life which is regarded as his best as the comedy which he produced during this time was simply some of best skits around and, when compared to the current crop of comedic films, they don’t match these at all. As long as Woody continues to direct in the way that he does, the world is a better place for it.
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