Following the success of Alvin Purple, director Tim Burstall turned his attention to more serious fare with this superb character study of a champion ex-footballer turned electrician Tony Petersen (Jack Thompson, in his first leading role), who tries to elevate his status in society by gaining a college degree. Along the way, he enters into an affair with his English professor’s wife (Wendy Hughes, in her screen debut), gets caught up in a campus feminist group’s free-love campaign, and tries to keep the peace on the homefront, where his loving wife Susie (Oscar-nominated Animal Kingdom and Silver Linings Playbook star Jacki Weaver) secretly fears she may lose her husband if he becomes too educated. Based on an original screenplay by David Williamson (Don’s Party), Australia’s leading playwright, Petersen brilliantly captures the complexities and contradictions of Australian society in the early 1970s, from the sharp-edged class divisions to the burgeoning sexual revolution.

Print courtesy of the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia’s Kodak/Atlab Collection.

  • Directed By Tim Burstall
  • 1974
  • Australia
  • 35mm
  • 107 minutes