A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy (1982)

Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, José Ferrer, Julie Hagerty,
A wacky inventor and his wife invite two other couples for a weekend party at a romantic summer house in the 1900s countryside.
  • 6.6 / 10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Writer:
  • Director:
  • Robert Greenhut, Producer:
10 / 10

an overlooked masterpiece

I am amazed at how neglected this film is. It is a real gem. I'm a big Woody Allen film and I consider it one of his best. The story is intelligent, well-written, funny, and charming. The themes of love, fate, and immortality are explored in a thoroughly entertaining way. A great performance by all the actors, but special mention should be made of Jose Ferrer and Julie Haggerty. See this movie. You will not be disappointed.

8 / 10

Shakespeare and Bergman and Sprites and Spirits oh my

When I look at his filmography on this site and count the films I consider great from the 70s till the early 90s I only stumble over two or three entries I am not fond of. Granted, some are greater than others, but Woody Allen essentially created consistently excellent films for two decades. Whether comedy or drama, whether set in New York or elsewhere, his films are not only great American films, but they belong in the international arena of film art. Having said all that, and hopefully having disclosed my own bias in discussing the man's work, I can say without further ado that I loved "A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy." It is hardly the type of Woody Allen film that would receive dozens of critical accolades and nominations (in fact it was only nominated for a Razzie), but I think that can be explained by the fact that Woody Allen set a bar of expectation for himself. When you watch "Manhattan" or "Crimes and Misdemeanors" and then this you see a change of pace, a sort of lighter tone. That does not, however, mean that this film is without its merits. Taken strictly as a film, not as a Woody Allen film, it is plain wonderful. I think that goes for most of his films (except maybe some of the more recent ones). Allen, of course, is up to his usual tricks again - he takes a Bergman film ("Smiles of a Summer Night") and spoofs it, makes it his own and I think successfully. The atmosphere of this film is what makes it so watchable - the beautiful blend of humor, nostalgia and unfulfilled desire, which I think he perfected in "Radio Days," come through exquisitely. It's also an interesting move away from the stark atheism, or at least agnosticism of his earlier films - the presence of spirits, shadows and ghosts, things unexplained by science, unaccounted for by our sentient experience. The most interesting aspect of it is that this mystical theme is hardly incongruous with Allen's other films, including his tragedies. Whether his films underline the hopelessness of existence (like "Interiors") or the mystical, and thus hopeful nature of human relationships, they only differ by the mood the storyteller is in when he speaks of them. Here we have an entirely Shakespearean comedy full of criss-crossing love affairs, absurd relations, untamed desires all leading to hilarious revelations, or serious revelations under the most comic circumstances. Jose Ferrer is remarkable as Professor Leopold, a cold, atheistic intellectual, an accomplished thinker and professor. Contrary to his character, Allen bestows him with some of the funniest lines in the entire film. For example, when he realizes that his marriage to Mia Farrow's Ariel will be the end of his bachelorhood and that he is attracted to Julie Hagerty's nurse Dulcy, he attempts to compliment Dulcy over a game of chess. He says: "You have a wonderful flair for spatial relationships." These little speeches are completely in line with the comic absurdity of the whole, like Tony Robert's Maxwell, a romantic doctor who, gets shot not once, but twice in the film (once for love and once for revenge {meant for someone else}, nonetheless), or Woody Allen's stockbroker / inventor Andrew. There is such joy in this film, such passion. Yes, maybe "Radio Days" is more articulate and personal on the subject, maybe "Crimes and Misdemeanors" is one of his best tragedies, "Manhattan" one of my favorite of his films along with "Hannah and Her Sisters" and "Another Woman." And, while "A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy" is not as great, in my humble opinion, as the aforementioned films, it is still a great film, if that makes any sense.

7 / 10

Light and Sensual Smile

Woody Allen's "Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy" that was made in 1982 between "Stardust Memory" (1980) and "Zelig"(1983) is considered by many as a lesser Allen's work or even failure. It was even nominated for a Razzie (Mia Farrow) for crying out loud. Well, failure or not, I'd take this silly, funny, humorous, beautifully photographed with Felix Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 3, Violin Concerto in E Minor, Piano Concerto No. 2 and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" suite for the soundtrack little treasure over the majority of Hollywood comedies any day or night including midsummer night. Spoofing Shakespeare's classic comedy and highly successful Ingmar Bergman's "Smiles of a Summer Night", Woody made a light comedy about six very different people - three couples in a turn-of-the-century who gathered together in a country during the weekend party in search for love, understanding and meaning of life and death which has his own unique style. Allen does not take things too seriously and laughs at and with his characters providing the best comical scenes in the movie as an inventor. One scene is his first appearance with the wings on his back when he tries to fly and another when he pedals his flying bicycle in a very ET - manner. Funny and memorable. 7.5/10

5 / 10

Woody in the woods

While this movie is not considered to be one of Woody Allen's masterworks, the sight of him in the countryside he so feared in Annie Hall and Manhattan, surrounded by crickets, rabbits, frogs and wild mushrooms, is a funny one, especially for his fans. Shakespeare was clearly on Allen's mind when he made and titled this movie--not only A Midsummer Night's Dream, but also The Tempest. There are obvious references (Mia Farrow's character's name is Ariel), and more subtle ones in the dialogue, when Woody's character talks about a "half goat" mystical lover. The film also marks Allen's first union with Mia Farrow, and the two work wonders together here which would be proved in several subsequent films (it's quite sad that their off-screen relationship ended the way it did). It is beautifully filmed and Allen uses music as effectively as he did in Manhattan. There are not a lot of belly laughs or memorable one-liners, but it is fun to watch nevertheless, and everyone in his ensemble cast seems to be having a great time.

10 / 10

Perhaps lesser known, but not lesser quality woody film

Almost a hidden gem, except that no one has an excuse for not knowing about any Woody film. The cast is delightful. Every line of dialog is laced with wit and humor. No New York angst here, just the usual relationship muddle, mixed with the usual existential questions of the the meaning of love and life and ... Not a message movie. As the title indicates, the point of all this is comedy. My favorite bit, which didn't make it into the quotes section goes something like this: Maxwell: Andrew! What do you think you're doing? Andrew: Its an invention of mine. I think I've got most of the bugs worked out. What do you think? Maxwell: Andrew, don't be silly. You can't fly. Andrew: I can't? Maxwell: Of course not! You're a mammal! Andrew: Oh. Tony Roberts is the perfect straight man. Its a pity that Woody hasn't used him in some of his later films. This is one of those handful of films that can be watched over and over again. One to own. Sadly, this (and several other Woody masterpieces) are out of print.