• Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy, A

    Released by: Twilight Time
    Released on: August, 2015.
    Director: Woody Allen
    Cast: Woody Allen, Jose Ferrer, Julie Hagerty, Tony Roberts, Mary Steenburgen, Mia Farrow
    Year: 1982
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    The Movie:

    Woody Allen’s 1982 film A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy sees a married couple, Andrew (Allen) and Adrian (Mary Steenburgen), pair up with two other couples for a relaxing getaway in the country. Their marriage has seen better days and there’s hope that this might help them rekindle what they once had. Along for the ride are a pretentious learned man named Leopold (Jose Ferrer) and his noticeably younger bride to be Ariel (Mia Farrow) as well as their philandering doctor friend Maxwell (Tony Roberts) who has brought along his nurse, Dulcy (Julie Hagerty), to keep him company for a few days.

    Things get complicated right from the start. Andrew once had a thing for Ariel and he can’t help but realize that those feelings haven’t completely died. Not to be outdone, Maxwell almost immediately seems to prefer her company to Dulcy’s, all of this much to the dismay of Leopold. Adrian isn’t dumb. She knows that her marriage to Andrew has had intimacy problems for far too long and she also knows that if she doesn’t do something about it, there’s a good shot she’s going to lose her husband to Ariel. Oddly enough, the only one who seems both willing and able to help Adrian do what she needs to do… is Dulcy.

    Things get even more complicated from there, but we don’t want to spoil the ending.

    Allen’s take on Bermgan’s Smiles of a Summer Night doesn’t see him stretching outside of his predetermined comfort zone very much but it’s got enough effective comedy to keep things interesting. In many ways it plays out just as you’d expect his take on such things to play out – the characters are all fairly neurotic, Andrew especially (Allen plays himself in most of the films he casts himself in and A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy isn’t really much of an exception), and they work through those neurosis on camera. Everyone is obsessed, to a certain degree at least, with sex and pretty self-absorbed but all of this does provide ample opportunity for comedy. Most of the time that comedy works. Not all of the time, mind you, but most of the time. So much of it comes down to the cast. Allen is Allen, so if you appreciate his comedic style you’ll like his style here. Hagerty surprises the most. While she’s well-established as a comedic actress (despite the fact that her work in Airplane! is pretty much iconic) she hits all the right notes at all the right moments and she looks great doing it too. Farrow has her own doe-eyed thing going on and that’s not without its own considerable charm (she was, after all, his muse for a considerable amount of his career and it’s easy to see that here), and if Tony Roberts is a bit dry thankfully Jose Ferrer picks up the slack for him.

    Even if you don’t find Allen’s sense of humor particularly endearing, however, this one is worth seeing for the visuals alone. Shot by Gordon Willis the whole damn picture is just gorgeous to look at and everything about the look of the movie works perfectly. The lighting not only compliments the sets and the performers but it also sets the tone while the compositions and use of warm colors throughout the picture add additional merit to the film’s style. On that level, the Bergman influence is impossible to ignore.


    A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy looks very good on Blu-ray from Twilight Time, framed in its proper 1.85.1 widescreen aspect ratio in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer on a 50GB disc. Detail is strong throughout (though there are a lot of soft focus shots employed here, intentionally, that obviously don’t blow you away) and a nice, natural amount of film grain is evident throughout while actual print damage is pretty much a non-issue. As with some of his other films from this era, Allen employs a very warm color scheme throughout the movie and it’s reproduced beautifully here. The picture has very strong depth and detail and easily surpasses previous home video releases. Skin tones look lifelike and natural and there are no signs of digital manipulation meaning edge enhancement and noise reduction are non-issues. This looks very film-like, and that’s a very good thing indeed – this transfer is beautiful.

    The English language DTS-HD Mono track is also quite good. It has more depth than most single channel tracks do and the dialogue sounds quite natural and properly mixed in against the score. This isn’t a particularly effects heavy track so Mono works just fine. The score has good range and presence to it and there are no problems with any hiss or distortion. Optional English subtitles are provided.

    Extras on the disc itself are slim, though we do get an isolated score track, a trailer for the feature and an MGM promo spot in addition to menus and chapter selection. Inside the keepcase is a booklet of liner notes from writer Julie Kirgo that are accompanied by a nice selection of stills and promotional artwork. Kirgo’s essay offers up what is essentially a quick history of the film and some appreciative thoughts on what works about the picture. A great read as always.

    The Final Word:

    A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy isn’t Allen’s best film but those with an affinity for his films, particularly of this era, will find much to appreciate. More often than not the humor works and the eclectic cast are fun to watch. The real star of the film, however, is the cinematography – this is a stunning looking picture from start to finish. Twilight Time’s Blu-ray isn’t stacked with extras but the transfer is excellent. Definitely recommended for Allen fans.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!