Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex *But Were Too Afraid to Ask (1972)


Very loosely based on a  novel of the same name, this film, hereto referred as EYAWTKAS*BWTATA, takes Woody Allen’s tendency to deviate from a cohesive narrative and builds on it, splitting the film up into six short films.

Each film deals with a central question about sex, and turns it into a short film ranging from Gene Wilder falling in love with a sheep to Woody Allen fighting off a giant, murderous boob.

The questions that title each film come off as questions someone might ask who knows nothing about the thing they’re asking about.  They’re very broad questions, that seem like something Allen would have fun making fun of.

In Do Aphrodisiacs Work? Allen plays a court jester who schemes to give the queen a potion to make her want to sleep with him.  The question is quickly answered because it does work, very well in fact.

The problem moves on from the effectiveness of the potion to the chastity belt that the queen wears.  Woody Allen is caught by the queen, and he gets beheaded.

In What is Sodomy? Gene Wilder plays Dr. Ross in what begins as a much more subtle comedic performance than Allen’s physical comedy in Aphrodisiacs.  A man from Armenia tells him that he is in love with his sheep but that his sheep no longer loves him.  We see the horror and disgust slowly melt over Dr. Ross’ face, but he soon discovers what it is the man sees in the sheep.

Dr. Ross then begins an affair with the sheep before being found out and forced to abandon his practice.  Like Aphrodisiacs, the story ends poorly for the main character.

The third question is Why Do Some Women Have Trouble Reaching an Orgasm?  It is entirely in Italian and pays homage to Federico Fellino and Italian cinema.  Allen starts off as a much more suave character, constantly smoking a cigarette and wearing sunglasses.  He wonders why his wife can’t reach an orgasm.  He becomes more desperate as he fails to help her reach satisfaction until he discovers she can only do so when they have sex in public.

This is when Allen’s character really devolves into the familiar comedic performance you would recognize.  His rational fears almost get in the way, but the story has a happy ending.

Are Transvestites Homosexuals? shows a guy dressing up in women’s clothing during a dinner at a friend’s house, all while his wife and other guests are downstairs eating.  He is forced to jump out of the window, and then a commotion ensues, but no one realizes he’s a man until he reveals it.  His wife tells him he can just be honest and they laugh about it.

What Are Sex Perverts? is a game show with a panel of judges, including Regis Philbin, who must guess someone’s sexual perversion through a series of questions.  Afterwards a lucky guest is allowed to act out his sexual fantasy live on tv.

The fifth story is Are the Findings of Doctors and Clinics Who Do Sexual Research and Experiments Accurate?  The answer seems to be no due to the ridiculous questions Dr. Bernardo poses in his experiments.  The doctor is made to be a little unhinged, and it parodies Dr. Frankenstein, complete with Dr. Bernardo’s own Igor, whose mind was damaged after he experienced a 4 hour orgasm.

This is the story that ends with a giant boob escaping, and Allen must and does stop the boob with a giant brazier.  Whereas the beginning parodied Frankenstein, the latter parodies The Blob from 1958.

Finally, in What Happens During Ejaculation, Allen goes into the control room of the male body during a NASA-like shuttle launch.  The film hits all the familiar beats of a date in real time as the body must digest pasta and deal with Catholic guilt.  Allen plays a nervous sperm who is unsure about what happens after they jump into the dark.

Each of these shorts seem to make light of the questions being asked.  It’s as if someone asked Woody a question, he answered it yes or no and then went on a tangent that doesn’t always answer the question.

“Woody, are the findings of doctors and clinics who do sexual research and experiments accurate?”  Woody: “What do you want me to say?  Yes, but the thing is it’s just this guy who’s spent too much time by himself, and he creates this, this, this monster, you see, and it’s fine in the lab, you know, that’s where it exists, that’s all it knows, but when it escapes it’s going wreak havoc, and now we’re the ones who have to deal with his problem.  We didn’t get funding, he did.”

The story goes that the author of the novel that this film is based on used a Woody Allen joke without crediting Allen, so Allen decided to make this movie that has no real connection the source material.  That’s what I head, at least, and these posts are just for hearsay.

So EYAWTKAS*BWTATA has a lot in common with Take the Money and Run and Bananas in terms of the style of comedy, and at this point Allen still seems unconcerned with anything beyond a well-written joke, but that’s all right.

Up Next: Sleeper (1973)Love and Death (1975)Interiors (1978)

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