Tony ‘Jock’ Petersen (Jack Thompson), an electrician and ex-Australian Rules footballer, decides in his 30’s to go to university to study English.
Married to Susie (Jackie Weaver) and the father of two young children, Petersen begins having an affair with tutor Patricia ‘Trish’ Kent (Wendy Hughes), the wife of Professor Charles Kent (Arthur Dignam), Petersen’s supercilious professor who is also “seeing” one of his students, Jane (Helen Morse), after class.
Much older than most other students and very much the Aussie larrikin on campus, Petersen is a misfit who wants to experience more than life has dealt him thus far.
On a dare from a feminist action group, Petersen performs a sex act on the campus lawn with Moira (Belinda Giblin), the daughter of a high-ranking judge.
Petersen and Susie spend a weekend with best mate Pete (John Ewart) and his wife Marg (Sandy McGregor). After too many drinks, Petersen and Marg decide to make love and are caught by Pete.
Trish takes Petersen away to her beach house, only to find Charles there with his student lover.
Trish asks Petersen to father her child and after talking things over with his father (Charles Tingwell), a clergyman who has lost his faith, Petersen decides to leave Susie and accept Trish’s offer.
Before he can tell her, Trish reveals she has accepted a job at Oxford.
Enraged, Petersen rapes her and goes on a drunken binge. Severely beaten by two police officers, Petersen returns to Susie and drops out of university.
Petersen was viewed as controversial at the time (1974) due to the full frontal nudity and sex. The film was a box-office success and received wide distribution in the UK and US under the title Jock Petersen.
The university campus scenes were set and shot at the University of Melbourne.
Tony ‘Jock’ Petersen
Dr. Patricia ‘Trish’ Kent
Prof. Charles Kent
Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell