"Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex"* but Were Afraid to Ask (1972)

R | 87-88 or 90 mins | Comedy | August 1972

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HISTORY

Woody Allen's onscreen credit reads: "Written for the screen and directed by." The opening and closing credits are set against shots of hundreds of white rabbits while the song “Let’s Misbehave" plays. The film consists of seven distinct sequences, each of which is preceded by a subtitle, written in lowercase letters on a black screen. Each section represents a different genre. For example, the "Why Do Some Women Have Trouble Reaching an Orgasm?" sequence, in Italian with English subtitles, parodies the crisp, minimalist style of Italian filmmaker Michael Antonioni, while "What Are Sex Perverts?" is a black-and-white satire of 1950s television game shows such as What's My Line? and "What Happens During Ejaculation?" emulates such science-fiction pictures as Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Fantastic Voyage (1966, see below for both). (Production designer Dale Hennesy had designed the sets for Fantastic Voyage .)
       During "Do Aphrodisiacs Work?," which references the William Shakespeare play Hamlet , all of the cast speaks in Shakespearean language except Allen, who speaks in contemporary English and occasionally addresses the camera directly. "Victor Shakapopulis," Allen's character name in the section entitled "Are the Findings of Doctors and Clinics Who Do Sexual Research and Experiments Accurate?," a horror film parody, is the same name as his character in the 1965 film What's New, Pussycat? (see below).
       "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex*" but Were Afraid to Ask was inspired by the 1969 best-selling sex guide of the same name by Dr. David Reuben, and each section title is a question from the book. At the time of its release, ... More Less

Woody Allen's onscreen credit reads: "Written for the screen and directed by." The opening and closing credits are set against shots of hundreds of white rabbits while the song “Let’s Misbehave" plays. The film consists of seven distinct sequences, each of which is preceded by a subtitle, written in lowercase letters on a black screen. Each section represents a different genre. For example, the "Why Do Some Women Have Trouble Reaching an Orgasm?" sequence, in Italian with English subtitles, parodies the crisp, minimalist style of Italian filmmaker Michael Antonioni, while "What Are Sex Perverts?" is a black-and-white satire of 1950s television game shows such as What's My Line? and "What Happens During Ejaculation?" emulates such science-fiction pictures as Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Fantastic Voyage (1966, see below for both). (Production designer Dale Hennesy had designed the sets for Fantastic Voyage .)
       During "Do Aphrodisiacs Work?," which references the William Shakespeare play Hamlet , all of the cast speaks in Shakespearean language except Allen, who speaks in contemporary English and occasionally addresses the camera directly. "Victor Shakapopulis," Allen's character name in the section entitled "Are the Findings of Doctors and Clinics Who Do Sexual Research and Experiments Accurate?," a horror film parody, is the same name as his character in the 1965 film What's New, Pussycat? (see below).
       "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex*" but Were Afraid to Ask was inspired by the 1969 best-selling sex guide of the same name by Dr. David Reuben, and each section title is a question from the book. At the time of its release, the book's friendly tone and question-and-answer format helped it become a best-seller. Later generations criticized the author for its inaccuracies as well as his conservative views on homosexuality, which subsequent editions tempered.
       In May 1970, actor Elliott Gould and his partner, Jack Brodsky, bought the film rights to the book, as noted in a HR news item, planning to produce a film version with Paramount. The producers discussed the adaptation in a May 1970 NYT article, stating that they would dramatize Reuben's experiences in researching the book, and maintain a serious tone. As noted in studio press notes, however, a satisfactory script was never achieved, and when Allen later heard his name on television in connection with Reuben's, he convinced Gould to allow him to make the film. In Dec 1971, DV announced that United Artists would distribute the film. That article stated that although Allen's previous films has been shot in New York City, his recent troubles with the state's unions persuaded him to shoot "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex*" but Were Afraid to Ask in Los Angeles. Despite this, as reported in a 7 Jan 1972 HR news item, the Electrical Workers Local 40 picketed the production.
       Allen shot a sequence entitled "What Makes a Man Become a Homosexual?" depicting a scientist, played by Allen, who imagines himself as a spider making love with a black widow (played by Allen's co-star, ex-wife Louise Lasser) who then eats him. Although pre-production materials for the film, including a Sep 1972 Playboy article, include the sequence, it was deleted from the final film. Modern sources add William Beckley to the cast. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
21 Aug 1972.
---
Daily Variety
22 Dec 1971.
---
Filmfacts
1972
pp. 397-400.
Hollywood Reporter
25 May 1970.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jan 1972
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Mar 1972
p. 20.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Aug 1972.
---
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
18 Aug 1972.
---
Los Angeles Times
16 Aug 1972
Section IV, p. 1, 20-21.
New York Times
24 May 1970.
---
New York Times
7 Aug 1972
p. 23.
New York Times
10 Aug 1972
Section II, p. 1.
New Yorker
19 Aug 1972
pp. 58-60.
Playboy
Sep 1972
pp. 115-119.
Publishers Weekly
15 Jun 1970.
---
The Advocate
20 Jul 1999.
---
Time
21 Aug 1972.
---
Variety
9 Aug 1972
p. 20.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
Wrt for the screen by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Gaffer
Key grip
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Supv film ed
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Const coord
COSTUMES
Male ward supv
Female ward supv
MUSIC
Mus rec
A & R Studios
Mus comp and cond
SOUND
Sd mixer
Re-rec
Magno Recording Studios
Sd ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Opticals
Title des
MAKEUP
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Prod secy
Transportation capt
Unit pub
Casting
Loc coord
Asst to prods
Asst to prods
Asst to prods
Asst to prods
Locs
SOURCES
LITERARY
Inspired by the book Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex but Were Afraid to Ask by Dr. David Reuben (New York, 1969).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Let's Misbehave," music and lyrics by Cole Porter, released by RCA Records
"The Battle Hymn of the Republic," music, under the title "Glory, Glory, Hallelujah," ascribed to William Steffe, lyrics by Julia Ward Howe.
DETAILS
Release Date:
August 1972
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 6 August 1972
Los Angeles opening: 16 August 1972
Production Date:
early January--mid March 1972
Copyright Claimant:
United Artists Corp.
Copyright Date:
6 August 1972
Copyright Number:
LP41094
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
DeLuxe with b&w seq
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
87-88 or 90
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Do Aphrodisiacs Work? In Elizabethan times, the king is infuriated by his fool, whom he considers unfunny. Later, the fool follows the queen into the gardens and fondles her. After she stalks away, the ghost of the fool’s father appears and commands him to have sex with the queen. A sorcerer provides him with an aphrodisiac but warns him that if the king discovers the potion, he will be killed. The fool then gives the queen the potion, and as soon as she drinks it, she demands that he ravage her. Upon removing her clothes, however, the fool discovers her chastity belt, and gathers keys and tools in a desperate attempt to break it open. As the fool opens the belt, the noises from inside the room attract the attention of the guards and the king himself. Hearing him approach, the fool and the queen struggle to close the belt, but his hand becomes stuck inside, so she throws her dress over his hand to hide it. When the king wants to make love to his wife, the fool pretends to leave but hides beneath her skirt. Soon, the king uncovers the fool and beheads him.
       What Is Sodomy? At Dr. Ross’s busy practice, he is surprised by a visit from Armenian shepherd Milos Stavros, who announces that he is in love with a sheep named Daisy. Unsure how to respond, Ross is further horrified to hear that Milos made love to the animal but now imagines that she is cold and ... +


Do Aphrodisiacs Work? In Elizabethan times, the king is infuriated by his fool, whom he considers unfunny. Later, the fool follows the queen into the gardens and fondles her. After she stalks away, the ghost of the fool’s father appears and commands him to have sex with the queen. A sorcerer provides him with an aphrodisiac but warns him that if the king discovers the potion, he will be killed. The fool then gives the queen the potion, and as soon as she drinks it, she demands that he ravage her. Upon removing her clothes, however, the fool discovers her chastity belt, and gathers keys and tools in a desperate attempt to break it open. As the fool opens the belt, the noises from inside the room attract the attention of the guards and the king himself. Hearing him approach, the fool and the queen struggle to close the belt, but his hand becomes stuck inside, so she throws her dress over his hand to hide it. When the king wants to make love to his wife, the fool pretends to leave but hides beneath her skirt. Soon, the king uncovers the fool and beheads him.
       What Is Sodomy? At Dr. Ross’s busy practice, he is surprised by a visit from Armenian shepherd Milos Stavros, who announces that he is in love with a sheep named Daisy. Unsure how to respond, Ross is further horrified to hear that Milos made love to the animal but now imagines that she is cold and indifferent to him. When Milos urges the doctor to speak to her for him, Ross gently suggests psychiatric care. Milos insists on carrying Daisy inside, where, as Ross explains why Milos’ feelings are completely inappropriate, the doctor strokes the sheep and begins to fall in love with her. That night at dinner Ross is listless and later, his wife Anne finds him petting his lambswool sweater. The next day, Milos brings Daisy to the office, and Ross nervously woos her. He takes her to a hotel room, ordering caviar and grass from room service. Soon he is buying the animal diamonds and lingerie, but when Anne catches the two together, Ross loses his family and his license. Waiting tables to support Daisy, he screams to the crowd that he is a doctor, then returns home to find a note from Milos stating that he has taken Daisy back to Armenia. A broken man, Ross drinks Woolite on street corner.
       Why Do Some Women Have Trouble Reaching an Orgasm? After his wedding, Fabrizio takes his bride Gina to bed, but she is unmoved and passive. Over the next weeks, he grows despondent at his wife’s lack of passion, and disheartened by his friends’ tales of their sex lives. Despite his exhaustive efforts, she remains bored. Fabrizio visits his priest, who states he can do nothing to help. One day the couple is in a store when Gina becomes aroused and urges Fabrizio to make love to her. Realizing that she wants to make love only in public places, the two enjoy sex in church, restaurants and friends’ homes. Although Fabrizio is concerned that they will one day be discovered, he is relieved that at least his wife is not frigid.
       Are Transvestites Homosexuals? Sam and Tess have dinner with the parents of their daughter’s fiancé Alvin. During the meal, Sam goes upstairs, ostensibly to use the bathroom but really to try on Alvin’s mother’s dresses. As the others are downstairs discussing their travels, upstairs he prances in a dress, hat, high heels and purse. Upon hearing Alvin’s father climbing the stairs, Sam hangs from the window ledge to hide. Unable to hold on, he drops to the ground and walks to the sidewalk in front of the house, where his purse is snatched by a man running by. Women walking nearby gather to help him, then the police arrive. Insisting that he does not want to press charges, Sam struggles to hide his moustache. When another police car pulls up with its siren blaring, everyone in Alvin’s parents’ home steps outside to investigate. Sam tells the police that he is three months pregnant, prompting Alvin’s father to invite him inside. At that point, Tess recognizes him, shouting “She’s my husband.” Later, in bed, Tess tells her husband that she does not mind that he is “diseased and perverted,” and pleased that she is so understanding, he agrees to see a doctor about his condition.
       What Are Sex Perverts? The television game show “What’s My Perversion?” begins with a commercial for hair conditioner that features two football players in a locker room. As the ad ends, the men begin kissing. Jack Barry emcees the show, which asks celebrity panelists Pamela Mason, Regis Philbin, Toni Holt and Robert Q. Lewis to guess a contestant’s deviant sexual preference, based on the answers to questions they pose. Contestant Bernard Jaffe, who likes to expose himself on subways, answers a series of questions, but the panel cannot guess his perversion, speculating that perhaps he is a rapist or child molester. Later, one lucky winner acts out his fantasy on air: Rabbi Chaim Baumel, a silk stockings fetishist, is tied up and whipped while his wife sits at his feet eating pork.
       Are the Findings of Doctors and Clinics Who Do Sexual Research and Experiments Accurate? Victor Shakapopulis, a sexual phenomena researcher, stops at a gas station on his way to the home of Dr. Bernardo, a renowned sex expert with whom he plans to work. Helen Lacey, a reporter planning to interview Bernardo, tells him her car has broken down, so he offers her a ride. At Bernardo’s mansion, the door is opened by hunchback Igor. Bernardo enters and whips Igor, then serves dinner, at which the two younger visitors praise the doctor and his innovative findings. He notes that although he was thrown out of the Masters and Johnson Institute for Sexual Studies and labeled insane, he initiated dozens of major findings in the field. He then takes them to his laboratory, where Victor and Helen are horrified to see the experiments being performed on unwilling human subjects: one man has sex with a huge loaf of bread, while the brain of a lesbian is being transported into a man who works for the telephone company. Bernardo holds them at gunpoint and declares that Helen will be the subject of his new experiment, in which he will test her heart rate while she is “gang-banged” by twenty Boy Scouts. Igor restrains Victor and straps Helen down, but Victor escapes, grabs Bernardo’s gun and shoots into the lab, ruining his equipment. As the lab begins to burn, Victor frees Helen and they flee. Bernardo and Igor are trapped in the ensuing explosion. Outside, the car will not start, and Victor and Helen witness a giant breast burst out of the house and move toward them. They race to the sheriff to report the “fiendish tit” on the loose. Meanwhile, a couple parked nearby is attacked by the breast. Victor plots to destroy it, and so lures it out into a field. Dodging the milk it squirts at him, he holds up a cross and leads it into a giant bra, trapping it. Walking with an admiring Helen, Victor decides that some things about sex are better left unknown.
       What Happens During Ejaculation? In a mission control center inside one man’s brain, operators are busily controlling all his bodily functions. The main operator signals the eyes to show him the man’s dinner date and agrees with the controller that there is some likelihood of sexual activity later. The sperm prepare to launch, hoping this is not another false alarm. The operator directs the man to attempt to make love to his date in his car. Engineers winch up the penis, but the workers fail to keep the erection upright. All of the body systems check in with each other to locate the problem, and finally a 45-degree erection is achieved. As he lines up for penetration, one sperm is scared to go out, but his friend reminds him that he took an oath to fertilize an ovum or die trying. Suddenly, the erection once again flags, and the operators scramble to alleviate the problem, which is revealed to be a priest in the conscience room turning up the guilt mechanism. Jettisoning the priest, the main operator calls “Full steam ahead.” In the erection room, the laborers sing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” while the sperm play a melancholy tune, then launch. When the orgasm is completed, the controllers celebrate with champagne and cigarettes. In the car, the date asks to "go again," and the main operator signals the gonads that “We’re going for a record." +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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