-The story came about while Allen was waiting for his film Zelig (1983) to be budgeted. "I thought it would be fun to get some people in a country house and just celebrate summer make it very beautiful, with butterfly nets and badminton courts and picnicking. [...] And I wrote the script in two weeks. Just this simple story, like a-day-in-the-country for fun. And I thought, Why should I wait? I'll do them both at the same time. What's the difference? And I did." [3]

 

-Based on “Smiles of a Summer Night,” which also inspired Stephen Sondheim's musical "A Little Night Music". [1]

 

-“…I just thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be charming to do some little summer thing from the turn of the century, around that time, 1910 or something, and make it very beautiful? One afternoon with people playing badminton and catching butterflies.’ And I thought it was good when I wrote it, and I thought it was good when I made it…” –Woody Allen [5]

 

-According to Farrow, Allen worked on “A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy” during the summer, back-to-back with Zelig, which was to begin shooting in the fall. Both films took longer than anticipated and overlapped with Broadway Danny Rose (1984), which in turn ran into The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985). "There were days when we shot scenes from two or three different films." [3]

 

-The first time Woody Allen appeared in one of his own films as part of an ensemble cast. Prior to this, he was either the main character or not in the film at all. [1]

 

-Allen and Gordon Willis were very careful about lighting the film, "We talked a lot about the coloring. We wanted to film during the most beautiful days in the country that you could think of. We just made it as lovely as we could. And everything was subsumed into that. We made sure that the light was perfect all the time and that the sun was at the exact right place. Finally, by the end of the season we were painting all the leaves green." [3]

"A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy"

 Screening Companion

-Released in United States July 16, 1982

-Runtime: 88 mins

-Production Company: Orion Pictures Corporation

-Distributor: Orion Pictures Corporation

-Rated PG

- Budget: NA

-Gross: $9 million [2]

- Aspect Ratio: 1.85 : 1

Orion Pictures

 

-Arthur Krim and Jack Medici left United Artists in 1978 and formed Orion Pictures. [6]

 

-Woody’s sense of old-fashioned sense of honor about professional commitments meant he would fulfill his contract and make “Interiors,” “Manhattan” and “Stardust Memories” before he would decide to leave UA. [6]

 

-In 1979, The New York Times Magazine put Woody on its cover with the title: “The Maturing of Woody Allen.” The writer predicted Woody would become one of America’s major serious filmmakers and become a counter-balance to rising West Coast directors of Coppola and Scorsese with their sex-drug and violent pictures. The writer concluded the eighties would turn Woody into the American Ingmar Bergman. [6]

 

-Steven Bach the head of worldwide production for United Artists knew how important Woody was becoming as a seriour filmmaker and said, “…trying to keep him was my most important single function in three years, more important that “Heaven’s Gate.” [6]

 

-Despite an extremely generous counteroffer, Bach and UA failed to retain Woody. [6]

 

-Woody new deal with Orion Pictures paid him 15% of his picture grosses, which he would divvy up with Rollins and Joffe and Robert Greenhut, his produced since “Annie Hall.” [6]

 

-Allen's first Orion film was to have been Zelig which was held up because of technical problems. When Orion insisted upon a sooner movie, Allen obliged by quickly writing the screenplay for "Sex Comedy". [1]

Enter Mia Farrow

 

-The first time Mia Farrow appeared in a Woody Allen film. [1]

 

-Woody and Mia met during the filming of “Stardust Memories” and started going out together. [5]

 

-During the making of “Stardust Memories” Woody briefly met Mia at Elaine’s restaurant one night after she finished a performance in the play “Romantic Comedy” with Anthony Perkins. She was having dinner with Michael Caine and his wife and were about to be joined by Mick Jagger. [6]

 

-That night, Mia had revealed to Woody that she had written him a fan latter after he finished “Manhattan.” Woody told her he remembered her letter and how her compliments had made his day. [6]

 

-Woody later that year invited Mia to his lavish New Year’s Eve party. She showed but didn’t stay long. Woody was hugely famous by that time and had invited every famous person in Hollywood. In Andy Warhol’s diary he wrote that Woody’s party was “the best.” It was “wall-to-wall famous people,” and added, “we should have gone earlier.” [6]

 

-Mia sent Woody a “bread-and-butter present” a few days after his party. The book was called “The Medusa and the Snail: More Notes of Biology Watcher.” Mia was a skilled gift-giver and was trying to send Woody a clear message that she was available. [6]

 

-Woody had his assistant phone her to thank her and hoped they could have lunch one day. That day came some months later, as “Stardust Memories” was about to be released. He had his assistant phone her again to schedule a lunch at the swank Lutece restaurant on East Fiftieth Street. By the time they finished lunch it was getting dark. Woody gave her a lift in his Rolls and promised to call her after he returned from Paris. Mia commemorated the occasion by embroidering April 17, 1980, on a needlepoint sampler. [6]

 

-Even after eight months “Romantic Comedy” was still going strong. Woody would like to sneak into Saturday matinees and whisk Mia away for dinner before the evening show. By this time everyone inn  the company knew Mia had a mad crush on Woody. [6]

 

-“Her exotic pedigree, sublimely trailing the mythology of Hollywood’s gilded era, conjured up for him the ecstasy of Midwood’s old movie palaces and long dark afternoons with a giant box of milk duds. She seemed like a fantasy in the flesh, whose connections to the glamor personalities pasted on Cousin Rita’s wall of pinups overwhelmed him. It was hard to believe that her mother was the same sexy starlet from the Tarzan movies. For that matter, the last person he ever expected to love was the ex-wife of Frank Sinatra, who had been a god to his cousin.” [6]

 

-Even though at this point they were lovers, he still had his assistant, Norma Lee Clark schedule their “meetings. [6]

 

-The other issue had with her was her 7 seven children. He warned her he had “zero interest” in her kids and making sure she didn’t expect anything from him in that regard. He had no interest in meeting them. [6]

 

-In 1980, the “New York Daily News” crowned them “Couple of the Year and by the end of the year, they reported that Woody was set to propose. The proposal ended up not being for marriage but a role written for her in his next picture.  [6]

 

-Working with Woody on the film showed Mia a different side of her lover. By this time in Woody’s career, he had gain confidence in his directing abilities. Woody could be very severe and sarcastic with his actors. In a scene with Jose Ferrer which he had to say, “These are not my teeth,” Woody made hime redo the line over and over. By the 30th time, Ferrer grew upset and stormed off the set. Mia felt that if Woody could do this to a highly respected actor, she stood no chance. [6]

 

-Filming with Allen brought out Farrow's insecurities about her own talent, "At times during shooting, I was overpowered by such a paralysis that I couldn't understand who the characters were supposed to be or what they were doing. Woody, now my director, was a stranger to me. His icy sternness pushed my apprehension toward raw fear. I was no artist, only the most inept poseur.” [3]

 

-“She’s [Mia] a great actress. She can play many different roles. She has a very good range. She can play serious roles, she can play comic roles. She’s also very photogenic, very beautiful on the screen. She’s just a good realistic actress, as opposed to someone like Diane Keaton who is a great comedian…[Mia’s] got a wide range for different parts. And no matter how strange and daring it is, she does it well.” –Woody Allen [5]

 

-Life on set was often miserable for Mia. Long days of hot humid weather took a toll on her, who had to wear an iron corset for the period film. She also developed fierce headaches and an ulcer. [6]

 

-On top of all that, while Mia was in her trailer cooling off, her sister acting as her stand-in developed a close friendship with Woody. She straggled around after Woody on a flirtatious way and the two would go off together, laughing and relaxing under a tree, as Mia was left behind in her trailer. Mia filled with jealousy and wonder if the two were sleeping together. [6]

Trivia

 

-Woody Allen wrote the role of Ariel for Diane Keaton, but she couldn't take the part because she was busy promoting her film Reds and preparing for Alan Parker's Shoot the Moon. [1]

 

-This is the first film that uses the now Woody Allen standard credits title card “Cast (in alphabetical order)” [2]

 

-The house in the film was built. Woody saw a picture of a house in a magazine he liked and said, ‘Build this!” Even the interiors of the house were built. They built a complete house for the film. The house was sold after filming but had to be fixed to code. [5]

Critical Reaction

 

-Allen’s filmography is littered with indifferent movies that are neither great nor terrible — just mediocre and forgotten. “A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy” is our first encounter with a Woody Allen film so bland, it’s hard to imagine anyone caring enough about it to form any sort of strong opinion. [2]

 

-Roger Ebert, writing for The Chicago Sun-Times observed that "the film is so low-key, so sweet and offhand and slight, there are times when it hardly even seems happy to be a movie. I am not quite sure what Allen had in mind when he conceived this material, but in addition to the echoes of Shakespeare and of [Ingmar] Bergman's Smiles of a Summer Night (1955), there are suggestions of John Cheever's Wapshots, Doctorow's Ragtime, and Jean Renoir's films in which nice people do nice things to little avail." [3]

 

-Stanley Kauffman thought the picture was “easily his best-directed film, much better than his last, “Stardust Memories… “A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy” had a sense of control and fluency. He know knew how to use the camera gracefully and was becoming a very good director.” [6]

 

-“Little sex and less comedy,” John Simon from the National Review wrote. [6]

 

“Watching Woody in the woods wasn’t much fun,” Gene Siskel said.

 

-Mia Farrow’s Razzie nomination is the one and only time anyone in a Woody Allen film has received the “honor.” [2]

 

-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. [4]

 

-“This one and “September” are my two biggest financial disasters.” –Woody Allen [5]

 

-“Nobody came to see A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy. One of the critic [Richard Schickel from Time Magazine]  who likes my work very much said that it was the only trivial picture that I ever made.” – Woody Allen [5]

 

-“I wanted it to be light. I just wanted it to be a small intermezzo with a few laughs. I don’t say this was any great picture at all, but in general this atmosphere is something that nobody cares about in the United States. For me it was fine. I had a great time doing it. I wanted to do for the country what I’d done for New York in “Manhattan.” I wanted to show it in all its beauty.” –Woody Allen [5]

 

-For the first time in his show-business career, Woody received back-to-back pans. He badely needed a hit. [6]

 

-76% Rotten Tomatoes rating

[1] – imdb.com

[2] – "Every Woody Allen Movie" web site

[3] – Turner Movie Classics

[4] – Wikipedia

[5] - "Woody on Woody" In Conversation with Stig Bjorkman

[6] - "The Unruly Life of Woody Allen" by Marion Meade