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

    Released by: Twilight Time Releasing
    Released on: July, 2017.
    Director: Woody Allen
    Cast: Woody Allen, Gene Wilder, Louise Lasser, John Carradine, Lou Jacobi, Tony Randall, Burt Reynolds, Lynn Redgrave, Jack Barry
    Year: 1972
    Purchase From Screen Archives

    The Movie:

    Written and directed by Woody Allen (who also stars in four of the film’s short vignettes) and based, on chapter titles at least, on the bestselling book by David Reuben, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex *But Were Afraid to Ask sees the filmmaker at one of his creative peaks. Rather than approach the source material as a traditional narrative or instructional/documentary picture, Allen instead takes the aforementioned chapter titles and uses them as a launching pad for gleefully perverse, absurdist comedy.

    In the first story, "Do Aphrodisiacs Work?," we travel back in time to medieval times where a court jester (Allen) gets a visit from the ghost of his dead father. Dear old dad, it seems, won’t be able to rest until his son beds the beautiful queen (Lynn Redgrave). But how will a homely fool such as he ever get so lucky? With the help of an aphrodisiac supplied to him by a sorcerer (played by Geoffrey Holder, the ‘un-cola man from those awesome 7-UP commercials!), of course! He plies the queen with the elixir and it takes effect almost immediately. Everything is going swimmingly, until the fool comes face to face with his greatest challenge… the queen’s chastity belt!

    Up next, "What Is Sodomy?," a story that revolves around a married doctor named Doug Ross (Gene Wilder), who hails from Jackson Heights and has an office in New York City. It’s in this very office that he gets a visit from Stavros Milos, a middle aged Armenia shepherd in town visiting family. He comes to Ross with a problem that he needs help with – not only has he fallen in love with a sheep named Daisy, but he’s equally concerned that the sheep has fallen out of love with him. When Stavros, insistent that Ross help him, brings Daisy into the office, the doctor becomes quite smitten with her himself and he subsequently ventures on a downward spiral that will wind up costing him all that he holds dear.

    "Why Do Some Women Have Trouble Reaching an Orgasm?" sees Allen poking fun at the Italian new wave in a story where he plays Fabrizio, a well to do socialite living in Rome with his beautiful new bride, Gina (Louise Lasser). Fabrizio can’t help but take it personally when he finds out that Gina isn’t nearly as intrigued by their sex life as he is. He stops short of calling her frigid but is clearly unhappy. In a quest to please his wife he tries a few tricks but none of them work… until the mood strikes her and they get it on in public.

    Up next, "Are Transvestites Homosexuals?" tells the sordid tale of a portly middle aged man named Sam (Lou Jacobi) who seems a little unhappy in his marriage to Tess. When he heads out in full drag only to have his purse snatched, his dirty little secret will soon be made more public than he’d like.

    "What Are Sex Perverts?" sees Allen skewer game shows with an episode of “What’s My Perversion?,” a quiz show hosted by Jack Barry complete with celebrity contestants like Regis Philbin onboard to play along. In this episode a man who likes to expose himself on subways win some big money and then later a lucky viewer, in the form of an aged rabbi, gets to act out his kink on live television. This one is shot in black and white and even has old fashion reception glitches inherent in the picture.

    Moving right along, "Are the Findings of Doctors and Clinics Who Do Sexual Research and Experiments Accurate?" finds a researcher named Victor Shakapopoulos (Allen) pick up a reporter named Helen Lacey (Heather MacRae) when she has car trouble. It turns out that they’re both headed to the mansion home of reclusive Doctor Bernardo (John Carradine), a man whose sex research was so controversial that he was kicked out of Masters & Johnson. They arrive and find that he is quite mad indeed, and when he tries to use Helen in his latest experiment, their ensuing escape unleashes a mammoth mammary that goes on a bizarre cross country rampage.

    Last but not least, "What Happens During Ejaculation?" portrays the inner workings of the male body during an intimate encounter with a lovely woman (Erin Fleming) in the back of a car. As the lower functions try to ensure that everything between the legs work, the crew in the stomach battle an influx of Italian food while the brain, operate by Tony Randall, has to keep things on target so that the switchboard, led by Burt Reynolds, can keep everything moving. While everyone upstairs works as hard as they can, a barrage of sperm prepare to swim for their lives and fertilize an egg no matter what!

    Nicely paced at just under ninety minutes in length and made with a very game cast and some decent production values, Allen’s picture is consistently perverse, frequently over the top and very, very funny. It’s crass to be sure, but that there is half the fun of a movie like this. At the same time, the now legendary scene with Wilder and the sheep manages to evoke some genuine pathos from the viewer. We know these scenes are wrong, that the sheep has not the ability to consent, but Wilder is so damn good in the part that you can’t help but feel for the guy! Another highlight is seeing Lou Jacobi, playing very much the same sort of regular slob he played in Amazon Women In The Moon, strutting about in drag trying to hide his moustache, seeing Allen poke away at Lasser while doing his best to properly speak Italian and of course, the horror/sci-fi send up that features none other than John Carradine doing what John Carradine did best. It all finishes with a bang, literally and figuratively, in the film’s other famous sequence where we see Reynolds and Randall guide the body they control to a proper climax. It’s witty, sometimes gross, and flat out goofy but none of that is a problem when it makes you laugh as often as this movie does.


    Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex *But Were Afraid to Ask debuts 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, and it looks very good. Detail is strong throughout the presentation and while the film is moderately grainy throughout, the image remains clean save for some minor print damage in the form of small white specks here and there. Some scenes look a little softer than others, much of this looks like it has to do with the lighting more than anything else, but there are no obvious noise reduction or edge enhancement to note while skin tones appear lifelike and natural. Black levels are decent as well and colors would seem to be pretty accurately reproduced. Detail and texture definitely rise above what DVD could provide and all in all this seems like an accurate transfer.

    The English language DTS-HD Mono track is also of nice quality. 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 as most of the mix is simply made up of dialogue, 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 are slim, limited to an isolated score option, the film’s original theatrical trailer, an interactive Twilight Time catalogue, static menus and chapter selection. Inside the clear Blu-ray keepcase, however, there is the requisite insert booklet containing liner notes by Julie Kirgo that makes some welcome observations about the film’s effectiveness, Wilder’s memorable performance and the source material that inspired the feature in the first place.

    The Final Word:

    Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex *But Were Afraid to Ask remains one of Woody Allen’s funniest films, a fairly insane take on carnal relations made with no shortage of creative zeal and a top notch cast. Twilight Time’s Blu-ray release is light on extra (as all home video releases of the director’s work tend to be) but it does offer a nice upgrade over the previous DVD edition.

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

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Gary Banks's Avatar
      Gary Banks -
      Saw this at the Drive In and laughed so hard I almost got sick. Developed a huge crush on Heather MacRae as well.