Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex (1972): Woody Allen’s Funny Comedy

At his prime, from his Oscar-winning film “Annie Hall” in 1977 to “Hannah and Her Sisters,” which was nominated for Best Picture and won Original Screenplay Oscar in 1986, Woody Allen was not only the most famous Jewish director but the most famous and acclaimed American filmmaker, with a strong cycle of serio-comedies.

But for a whole decade, from the late 1960s to “Annie Hall,” Allen specialized in making funny, broad, often shapeless comedies that lacked the structure, coherence, and discipline of his later work.  One such movie was “Everything You Always Wanted to Know,” in 1972, essentially an aggregate of vignettes, sketches, and gags, loosely based on the book by Dr. David Rueben.
As written and directed by Woody Allen, the comedy contains some very funny moments, closer to his Jewish origins–the Catskill kind of broad and gross (sometimes dirty) humor.
The absurdist, often hilarious vignettes probe sexuality in all its facets! Aphrodisiacs prove effective for a court jester, played by Allen, who finds the key to the Queen’s (Lynn Redgrave, then very hot after gaining Oscar nomination for “Georgy Girl”) heart but learns that the key to her chastity belt might be more useful.
Unnatural acts get wild when a good doctor (Gene Wilder) falls for a fickle sheep. Jack Barry gives fetishism 20 questions on a wacky TV show called “What’s My Perversion?” Sex-research goes under the microscope when a mad scientist (John Carradine) unleashes a monstrous, marauding breast.
The absurdity comes to a climax, in more senses than one, with a hilarious image of Tony Randall, Burt Reynolds and Allen as sperm having second thoughts about ejaculation!
By standards of mainstream Hollywood comedies, “Everything You Always Wanted to Know” was audacious, depicting, among other deviant phenomena bestiality, exposure, perversion, and S&M. The final scene, which takes place inside a man’s body during a hot date, is truly funny.
The movie benefits immensely from the fact that Allen himself appears in many of the sketches. Critics at the time marveled at how Allen succeeded in pushing the envelope of the comedy genre, by incorporating his madcap, eccentric sensibility and his wicked irreverence.  Cue magazine wrote, for example: “Allen reveals himself as a filmmaker of wit, sophistication, and comic insight.”
Woody Allen’s Beginnings
Born in 1935 as Allen Stewart Konigsberg, in Brooklyn, to working class parents. He began his career as a comedian, humorist, and playwright. Allen started writing comedy material for TV stars while still an adolescent. He also wrote jokes for newspaper columnists and contributed sketches for stage revues.
In 1961, he began performing his own material in Greenwich Village cafes. His special brand of cynical parody and devastating understatement was soon in demand on TV talk shows and at nightclubs.  He showed a gift for philosophical and literary humor in comic essays in The New Yorker and later in several books, including, Getting Even, Without Feathers, and Side Effects.
The versatile performer also honed his skills as a jazz clarinetist, a regular Monday night gig at Michael’s Pub in New York that has continued for decades.
He broke into films in 1965, as both screenwriter and performer in “What’s New, Pussycat?”   The film features Louise Lasser, his second wife, who often appeared in his early movies. The following year he flaunted an absurd low-keyed humor by clever English dubbing of the sound track of a cheap Japanese film thriller, titled “What’s Up, Tiger Lily?” For Broadway, he wrote two hits, “Don’t Drink the Water” and Play it Again, Sam,” both of which were later made into films.
In 1969, Allen embarked on a filmmaking career, when he directed, co-scripted, and starred in Take the Money and Run, a hilarious parody of crime films.  In the 1970s, Allen directed, wrote, and acted in a string of highly successful comedies. Typically disjointed in continuity, these films contained many moments of comic brilliance, highlighted by self-effacing humor, inside jokes, and endless spoofs of filmmakers (Antonioni, Bergman, Eisenstein), movie conventions, and philosophers.