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

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) is a 1972 American sex comedy film directed by Woody Allen. It consists of a series of short sequences loosely inspired by Dr. David Reuben's 1969 book of the same name.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex*
(*But Were Afraid to Ask)
Theatrical release poster
Directed byWoody Allen
Produced byCharles H. Joffe
Screenplay byWoody Allen
Based onEverything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask)
by David Reuben
Music byMundell Lowe
CinematographyDavid M. Walsh
Edited byEric Albertson
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • August 6, 1972 (1972-08-06)
Running time
88 minutes
CountryUnited States
  • English
  • Italian
Budget$2 million
Box office$18 million[1]

The film was an early success for Allen, grossing over $18 million in North America alone against a $2 million budget, making it the 13th highest-grossing film of 1972.

Film structure

The credits at the start and close of the film are played over a backdrop of a large mass of white rabbits, to the tune of "Let's Misbehave" by Cole Porter.

The film consists of seven vignettes, as follows:

  1. Do Aphrodisiacs Work?
    A court jester (Woody Allen) gives a love potion to the Queen (Lynn Redgrave) but is foiled by her chastity belt. There are references to Shakespeare's Hamlet throughout.
  2. What Is Sodomy?
    Dr. Ross (Gene Wilder) falls in love with the partner of an Armenian patient, a sheep.
  3. Why Do Some Women Have Trouble Reaching an Orgasm?
    Allen's homage to Italian film-making in general and Casanova 70, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Federico Fellini in particular, about Gina (Louise Lasser), a woman who can only reach orgasm in public.
  4. Are Transvestites Homosexuals?
    Sam Musgrave (Lou Jacobi), a middle-aged married man, experiments with women's clothes.
  5. What Are Sex Perverts?
    A parody of the television game show What's My Line? called What's My Perversion?, filmed in B&W kinescope-style and hosted by Jack Barry. The four panelists who attempt to guess the contestant's perversion are Regis Philbin, Robert Q. Lewis, Pamela Mason, and Toni Holt. After they fail to guess that the contestant's perversion is "Likes to expose himself on subways," a second segment of the show is presented, in which a selected viewer (in this case a rabbi) gets to act out his bondage and humiliation fantasy while his wife eats pork.
  6. Are the Findings of Doctors and Clinics Who Do Sexual Research and Experiments Accurate?
    Victor (Woody Allen), a sex researcher, and Helen Lacey (Heather MacRae), a journalist, visit a Dr. Bernardo (John Carradine), a researcher who formerly worked with Masters and Johnson but now has his own laboratory complete with a lab assistant named Igor (Ref Sanchez). After they see a series of bizarre sexual experiments underway at the lab and realize that Bernardo is insane, they escape before Helen becomes the subject of another of his experiments. The segment culminates with a scene in which the countryside is terrorized by a giant runaway breast created by the researcher. The first part of this segment is a parody of Ed Wood's Bride of the Monster, while the second part parodies The Blob.
  7. What Happens During Ejaculation?
    The NASA-like mission control center in a man's brain (headed by Tony Randall and featuring Burt Reynolds as the switchboard operator) is seen, as he gets involved in a sexual clinch with an NYU graduate (Erin Fleming) (knowledge that she is a graduate of NYU assures coital success). As he achieves orgasm, the soldier-like, white-uniformed sperm (one of them played by bespectacled Allen, coached by another sperm played by Robert Walden) are dispatched paratrooper-style into the great unknown.


Critical response

The film holds an 89% "Fresh" rating of on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 19 reviews.[2]

An August 1972 review by Time said that many of the film's ideas "sound good on paper" but that the "skits wind down rather than take off from the ideas"; the film includes "some broad, funny send-ups of other movies (Fantastic Voyage, La notte), and its fair share of memorably wacky lines" but that "overall it is just Woody marking time and being merely a little funnier".[3]

The Time Out Film Guide noted that some of the film's sketches are "dross, but the parodies of Antonioni (all angst and alienation of a wife who can achieve orgasm only in public places) and of TV panel games ('What's My Perversion?') are brilliantly accurate and very funny. Best of all is the sci-fi parody entitled What Happens During Ejaculation?"[4]

In 2004, Christopher Null, founder of filmcritic.com, called it a "minor classic and Woody Allen's most absurd film ever".[5]


The film was banned in Ireland on March 20, 1973.[6] A cut version was passed in 1979 and released theatrically in 1980, removing both a bestiality reference ("the greatest lay I ever had", referring to a sheep) and a man having sex with a bread loaf, The ban on the uncut version was eventually lifted.[7][8]

See also


  1. "Box Office Information for Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex, But Were Afraid to Ask". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 21, 2012.
  2. "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex, Movie Reviews". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 23, 2012.
  3. "Flailings and Failings". Time. August 21, 1972. Retrieved June 8, 2007.
  4. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex, But Were Afraid to Ask movie review - Film - Time Out London
  5. Film review Archived 2008-12-04 at the Wayback Machine by Christopher Null, founder of filmcritic.com
  6. "Films banned in Ireland". boards.ie. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  7. "Censored! As a 1978 movie is banned, John Meagher looks at 70 years of cuts". The Irish Independent. The Irish Independent. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  8. "Song Contest Tied". Melon Farmers Censorship Watch. The Irish Independent. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
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