This is an anthology of answers to questions about sex which many people wonder about. The first question is whether aphrodisiacs work and to illustrate this we travel back to medieval times and see the court of an English King (Anthony Quayle) who has just returned from a successful campaign. He is enjoying a feast to celebrate and before he retires to his bedchamber with his Queen (Lynn Redgrave) he calls for his Fool (Woody Allen) to entertain him. Alas, the Fool's humour does not please him and the court is quickly cleared by his Las Vegas style act. But where does the aphrodisiac come into all this?
One of the early, funny ones in the Allen career, Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex took its title from David Reuben's book answering sexual problems and queries, but anyone looking for problem solving here will be sorely disappointed. Mostly it's a series of ridiculous situations taking their inspiration from real enquiries and scripted by Allen into a comedy that, in the main, is consistently funny and inventive. The initial instalment sees the cast talking in daft, pseudo-medieval manner as the Fool tries out a love potion on the Queen, but is foiled by her chastity belt, setting the tone for the humour.
The questions posed at the start of each segment only have a tenuous connection with the stories which follow, which can be illustrated by the second, "What is sodomy?" Here, a well cast Gene Wilder stars as a doctor who is approached with a very unusual condition: an Armenian shepherd (Titos Vandis) asking him about an affair with a sheep named Daisy. When the shepherd brings the object of his affection into the office the doctor unexpectedly sees exactly what the attraction is, and begins an affair of his own. With some clever touches, such as the wife finding wool on her husband's suit rather than a hair, this is an early highlight.
Next is a spoof of Italian movies, spoken entirely in Italian, with Allen and new wife Lousie Lasser finding that the only way she can achieve orgasm is by having sex with him in public. That's it, that's the joke, making this only mildly amusing, especially compared with what's next, "Are transvestites homosexuals?", cringeworthy comedy of embarrasment featuring the lumpenly heterosexual Lou Jacobi as a middle aged man visiting his son-in-law to be's parents and excusing himself to try on the mother's clothes. Watching Jacobi forced to pretend to be woman in public is very funny.
A gameshow called "What's My Perversion?" also suffers for being a one joke sketch, but the following one where John Carradine stars as a mad scientist whose expertise is in sexual research is an improvement. All the horror movie clichés are twisted into a ludicrous tale where Allen and Heather MacRae try to combat the scientist's escaped giant breast. Lastly, the most celebrated episode which delves into the inner workings of the human body when it has sex, so every part of the anatomy from the brain, with Tony Randall as the Operator, to the sperm, with Allen as one, is orchestrated with military precision (the pleasure centre is particularly entertaining). As sketch movies go, this is one of the more successful ones with few dull spots and a colourful, winning irreverence throughout, if very much of its time in its attitudes. Music by Mundell Lowe.
American writer/director/actor and one of the most distinctive talents in American film-making over the last three decades. Allen's successful early career as a stand-up comedian led him to start his directing life with a series of madcap, scattershot comedies that included Bananas, Sleeper and Love and Death. 1975's Oscar-winning Annie Hall was his first attempt to weave drama and comedy together, while 1979's Manhattan is considered by many critics to be Allen's masterpiece.
The 90s saw Allen keep up his one-film-a-year work-rate, the most notable being the fraught Husbands and Wives, gangster period piece Bullets Over Broadway, the savagely funny Deconstructing Harry and the under-rated Sweet and Lowdown. After a run of slight, average comedies, Allen returned to more ambitious territory with the split-story Melinda and Melinda, the dark London-set drama Match Point, romantic drama Vicky Cristina Barcelona, one of many of his films which won acting Oscars, and the unexpected late-on hits Midnight in Paris and Blue Jasmine. In any case, he remains an intelligent, always entertaining film-maker with an amazing back catalogue.