Post-production on Those Terrible Twins presumably occurred between March and April 1925, and the customary industry preview screening took place at the Piccadilly Theatre in Sydney on 12 May. Reviews were generally positive. The Labor Daily commended the performances of the young amateur leads, adding 'the dialogue running through the picture is to be commended for being to the point, and for its freshness."
The Daily Telegraph particularly praised the fight scenes, concluding "A good deal of the comedy is of the slap-dash variety that rouses a popular audience to the pitch of hilarity, but it is honest, wholesome stuff, and moves with a swing."
"Ward has succeeded in expressing the vigorous, manly character of the Australian boy in his real environment," reported The Sun. "As an Australian picture The Terrible Twins struck a high note in local production. Welcome and most noticeable features were the bright sub-titles and the droll thumbnail sketches accompanying them." There was no apparent attempt by the Sun to tie the film to their popular Ginger Meggs comic strip.
Only the Sydney Morning Herald dissented. “Efforts to achieve variety by patching together the most diversely coloured materials, from gaudy farce to sombre melodrama, have succeeded only in leaving the story rambling and incoherent,” reported the Herald. “It is, in fact, but a series of incidents. There has been no attempt in the settings, to take advantage of the city’s natural beauties.” The Bulletin similarly complained that the film 'ignores our wealth of land and seascape and seldom ventures outside grimy back alleys.' Ironically, this last point is what gives Those Terrible Twins an enduring appeal for us today - its unvarnished view of the ordinary streets and people of Sydney.
The film was not officially released until July 1925, over two months after its initial preview. Sydney was celebrating a visit from the American Fleet, and the film, shown as a supporting feature to First National’s His Supreme Moment at Sydney’s Haymarket Theatre, was promoted as ideal entertainment for the visiting sailors. 'The Terrible Twins are a local comedy pair who compare favourably with oversea products. They provide a bright diversion as the second feature attraction,” wrote the Sydney Truth.
Now that we’ve heard so much about the production of Those Terrible Twins, how about we watch it (courtesy of the National Film and Sound Archive)?
Advertisement from The Daily Guardian (Sydney), 6 July 1925
The film opens with a quintessential ‘Terrible Twins’ situation, as the two pranksters sneak in to attack a suitor who is romancing their sister ‘Susan’ (or ‘June’, as she was named in the Those Terrible Twins comic strip). Subsequently, he is revealed to be the famous cricketer Graham Trent (a double for 'Giggins’). Spotting an article in the newspaper about him, the boys plan to see him play. Their sister is just as interested in seeing the handsome sportsman - but their blustery father isn’t so impressed.
As the film progresses, we follow the twins through a rivalry with an unnamed bully (who probably began as ‘Spider Brown’, the twins’ nemesis in the Terrible Twins comic strip), to cricket practice to see Graham Trent in action, and to Trent’s gymnasium in order to learn how to fight the aforementioned bully. A long chase sequence follows, which leads our heroes all over the gym, and straight through an exercise class full of scantily-clad flappers.
The action takes an unexpectedly dramatic turn in the final reel, with Susan suddenly kidnapped by jewel thieves. Ginger and Bluey attempt to use their new-found boxing skills to rescue their sister, but it is not until Graham Trent arrives on the scene for the third of the film’s many harrowing fight scenes, that the villain is knocked out.
As the film closes, the lovers are married, leaving the twins to lament the sissy suits they’ve been made to wear for the ceremony. All in all, it is a pleasant but unchallenging way to spend half an hour.
If the film was originally 5,000 feet long, as one advertisement stated, the 2,300 feet that survive represent just under half of the original production. It is also possible that the film was somewhat shorter than advertisements claimed. According to the Sydney Morning Herald’s review, the material that is lost includes a pie fight, the jewellery robbery whose aftermath we see in the surviving footage, and a sequence in which a dazed character hallucinates a dancing fairy. The remaining footage is coherent enough to speculate that the material was being held to assemble a shorter version of the film to extend its commercial lifespan. At a brisk 35 minutes rather than an hour, it’s quite likely that the version that has survived plays better than the original.
Advertisement in Queensland’s Maryborough Chronicle, 22 March 1926
The film made its Brisbane debut in August, where it filled the bottom half of a double bill at the Tivoli with Constance Talmadge’s The Lady (1924). Brisbane’s Daily Standard described it more definitely as 'showing for the first time those well known characters, Ginger Meggs and Bluey. It is a story of Australian boyhood, with many humorous touches.’ Ironically, Us Fellers appears not to have made its debut in Queensland until 1926, meaning that audiences may not have been as well acquainted with the character as the review suggested.
First National, whose focus was now on producing a lavish stage prologue for the Australian debut of The Sea Hawk (1925), showed little enthusiasm for promoting the film. After a handful of showings in regional Australia and occasional appearances on the bottom half of the bill during the later 1920s, it disappeared, becoming so obscure that some historians reported that Ginger’s twin was a girl rather than a young boy.