A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy (1982) Directed By Woody Allen
Woody is very close to my heart. Especially the 1970s classic
Woody paired with Diane Keaton. A Midsummer Night's Sex
Comedy is an early 1980s extension to his great period.
Mia Farrow has stepped in and stolen what would have been the
obvious Keaton role in the previous decade. Farrow plays Adrian,
the bride-to-be of an elderly professor, but really she is the center
of all men's desire in this comedy. Woody plays an inventor with the
usual Allen-characteristics; sexual failures, inhibitions, general
uncertainty. But this time the setting is an early 20th-century
country house in the middle of the most gorgeous summer.
The director is clearly realizing one aspect of his Ingmar Bergman
In this visually harmonious setting the plot of the movie is nearly
a farce, while the script is as intelligent as any great Allen script.
The characters (who begin to lust after each others' partners
plotting secret rendezvous here and there) ask not only for practical
advice in sex, but they question each other on the relationship
between love and lust. Andrew, Allen's inventor character, says
that the difference between the two is that "sex alleviates tension,
love creates it".
Tony Roberts appeared in practically all the early Woody films.
His function is usually to play the opposite to Woody's neurotic,
short, procrastinating, New York-obsessed characters. So
usually Roberts represents business-oriented thinking, success in
Hollywood, health, doing instead of thinking and so on – everything
that Woody is not (and that he despises at least to some extend).
Roberts is a kind of unlikely sidekick, but he has been there
throughout the 1970's for Woody and thus I want to mention him
here, doing his final film with Allen.
In A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy Roberts plays Doctor
Maxwell Jordan. He always turns up to his friend's house with
a new lover, considers marriage a trap, writes books about nature
and therefore represents bodies and instinct (against intellect and
knowledge without experience). As it turns out, Andrew's (Woody)
marital problems are also lifted when his wife admits to having
had sex with Maxwell the previous summer.
Of course, Woody wouldn't be Woody if he did not reverse these
stereotypes within his story, but I won't spoil the plot more
You can define Allen's movies into distinct periods: The early
funny ones, The Keaton years, The Farrow years, the post
Farrow/scandal years and now the Johansson/European Years.
This is the first movie Allen made with Farrow. An inventor and
his wife invite two other couples to their country home during high
summer. Sexual games ensue, with various illicit rendezvous' amid
naughty digressions. Allen gives a nod to Shakespeare (title) and
Bergman (apparently this is loosely based on an Ingmar Bergman
story). I think the Bergman influence is more in the look which is
exquisite. It's also a rare move out of the city for an Allen movie,
you have to go back to the very early films to find such green
The performances are all excellent, with Mia Farrow and Jose
Ferrer being my picks. This is Woody at his best, a sharp script
(poking fun at intellectual arrogance), a great look and of course
very funny. This film was followed by Zelig, Broadway Danny Rose,
The Purple Rose Of Cairo and Hannah & Her Sisters and was
preceded by Manhattan and Stardust Memories.
Has there been a better run of films in modern American Cinema
by one director? This is beginning to look like Allen's greatest
period. Why is this singular Allen film so underrated ?
Not sure, but if you haven't seen it,
just track it down , it's a gem.