Devil’s Playground, The (1976)

“An undisciplined mind is the devil’s playground.”

Devil's Playground Poster

An Australian boy (Simon Burke) comes of age at a Catholic boarding school in the 1950s.


This episodic coming-of-age tale by Australian director Fred Schipisi is inaccurately marketed as a sensationalized tale of sexuality — indeed, the DVD cover features a strategically-chosen, non-representative still which immediately evokes the threat of pedophilia. In actuality, this subject is never dealt with; instead, the priests in Devil’s Playground are portrayed as well-meaning, eminently human, and (for the most part) kind. (One particularly surprising scene shows two priests out on the town, tempted to pick up women they meet at a bar). While the narrative in The Devil’s Playground is concerned with sexuality — as is nearly every movie about adolescence — its portrayal is honest and multi-faceted rather than prurient. This remains a worthy entry in the vast coming-of-age genre.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Simone Burke’s appealing, natural performance
    Simon Burke
  • A refreshingly humanizing look at priests
  • A sensitive portrayal of male adolescence and sexuality

Must See?
No, but it’s recommended.


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