A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy
|A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Woody Allen|
|Produced by||Robert Greenhut|
|Written by||Woody Allen|
|Edited by||Susan E. Morse|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$9 million|
The plot is loosely based on the 1955 Swedish comedy film Smiles of a Summer Night, written and directed by Ingmar Bergman. It was the first of 13 films that Allen would make starring Mia Farrow. Her role was originally written for Diane Keaton, another Allen lead actress, but she was busy promoting her film Reds and preparing to begin production on Shoot the Moon. Julie Hagerty, Mary Steenburgen, Tony Roberts and Jose Ferrer co-starred. It also marks the first appearance of Allen as an ensemble performer in his own film, as previously he had either been the lead character or did not appear in his films.
A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy received moderately positive reviews but was nominated for one Razzie Award: Worst Actress, for Farrow – the only time a Woody Allen film has been nominated for a Razzie.
It is 1906 in upstate New York. Distinguished philosopher Leopold and his much younger fiancée, Ariel, are going to spend a weekend in the country with Leopold's cousin Adrian, and her crackpot inventor husband Andrew. Also on the guest list is womanizing doctor, Maxwell, and his latest girlfriend, a free-thinking nurse, Dulcy. Over the course of the weekend, old romances reignite, new romances develop, and everyone ends up sneaking off behind everyone else's backs.
- Woody Allen as Andrew
- Mia Farrow as Ariel Weymouth
- José Ferrer as Professor Leopold Sturges
- Julie Hagerty as Dulcy Ford
- Tony Roberts as Dr. Maxwell Jordan
- Mary Steenburgen as Adrian
- Adam Redfield as Student Foxx
- Moishe Rosenfeld as Mr. Hayes
- Timothy Jenkins as Mr. Thomson
- Michael Higgins as Reynolds
- Sol Frieder as Carstairs
- Boris Zoubok as Purvis
- Thomas Barbour as Blint
- Kate McGregor-Stewart as Mrs. Baker
Allen explained the inspiration for the film:
I thought I wanted to do a film about poignant relationships, a film about a guy who missed an opportunity and was haunted by the thought and a girl who was about to throw in her lot with a much older man, not really the right one for her. The genesis was not a comedy but a kind of serious Chekhovian story, in the style of Interiors almost. That serious of a thing. Then I started to think, God, it sort of cries out for a comic treatment—a group of people at a summer house on a weekend and the silvery moon in concert with the animals and flowers. Why not take a comic approach to it? Let the seriousness be a subtext. So I started to write it, and it worked very rapidly for me. I started to take delight in it. You know, I hate the country, but I began wanting to create the country, not as I experience it but as I would like to.
The film opened on July 16, 1982, at 501 North American theaters, and made $2,514,478 ($5,018 per screen) in its opening weekend. It grossed $9,077,269 in its entire run.
The film has a 76% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 25 reviews with the critics' consensus being "It may not [be] Woody Allen's best work, but the frothy, fun A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy is still worth a look."
Janet Maslin of The New York Times wrote, "Whatever Mr. Allen is doing in constructing this pretty, slight, gently entertaining movie, he isn't doing the thing he does best. 'A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy' gives the impression of someone speaking fluently but formally in a language not his own." Roger Ebert gave the film two stars out of four and explained, "I don't object to 'A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy' on grounds that it's different from his earlier films, but on the more fundamental ground that it's adrift. There doesn't seem to be a driving idea behind it, a confident tone to give us the sure notion that Allen knows what he wants to do here." Gene Siskel awarded two-and-a-half stars out of four, calling it "a nice picture, but insubstantial." Variety called the film "a pleasant disappointment, pleasant because [Allen] gets all the laughs he goes for in a visually charming, sweetly paced picture, a disappointment because he doesn't go for more." Sheila Benson of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "What's most disappointing about 'Sex Comedy' is that for all its incessant—and anachronistic—talk, there's a serious shortage of new ideas from writer-director Allen. The film's fullest idea is that opportunity, once lost, can never again be recaptured. We might have hoped for this bittersweetness and a great deal more from one of the screen's nerviest innovators." Gary Arnold of The Washington Post stated, "The crucial problem with 'Sex Comedy' is that one detects no persuasive sexual chemistry in any of the alleged, three-cornered mating games. It's impossible to believe that anyone's susceptibilities are deeply stirred or anyone's feelings likely to be hurt. Allen can't establish the basic sense of attraction and the emotional gravity that underscores the frivolity of the romantic hide-and-seek." Pauline Kael of The New Yorker wrote, "The group is rather amusing, and for a while the film seems saucy and fairly promising (when we learn, for example, that the prof and his fiancée met at the Vatican). Viewers may feel that everything must be building toward a big, explosive joke. But nothing really develops—not even the clashes that are prepared for. Nothing busts loose."
- Vermilye, Jerry (2002). Ingmar Bergman: His Life and Films. McFarland. p. 91. ISBN 0786411600. Retrieved June 23, 2014.
- Arnold, Gary (July 16, 1982). "Woody Allen, Inside And Out". The Washington Post. C1-C2.
- "A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy (1982) A New Woody Allen". The New York Times. July 16, 1982. Retrieved June 20, 2015.
- "A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy". rottentomatoes.com. 16 July 1982.
- Maslin, Janet (July 16, 1982). "Film: A New Woody Allen". The New York Times. C4.
- Ebert, Roger. "A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved December 4, 2018.
- Siskel, Gene (July 16, 1982). "A wistful Woody Allen comedy aims low, and hits the mark". Chicago Tribune. Section 3, p. 1.
- "Film Reviews: A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy". Variety. July 14, 1982. p. 27.
- Benson, Sheila (July 16, 1982). "Woody's Would-Be 'Sex Comedy'". Los Angeles Times. Part VI, p. 8.
- Arnold, Gary (July 16, 1982). "'A Midsummer Night's' Flirtation With Farce". The Washington Post. C1.
- Kael, Pauline (July 26, 1982). "The Current Cinema". The New Yorker. 63.