Anthony Kimmins was associated with Australia during the late 1950s as the screenwriter, director, and producer of the two Smiley films: Smiley (1956) and Smiley Gets a Gun (1958). During this period, he also conceived the idea for a story based around the character Lugs O'Leary. This resulted in the novel Lugs O'Leary (1960), which is set in several Australian locations, including Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef.
Kimmins's film career began in the early 1930s, when he was engaged as an actor and writer for a number of British films. He appeared in The Golden Cage (1933) and White Ensign (1934), but soon quit acting to focus on screenwriting. His first film as writer was Two Wives for Henry (1933), followed by The Night Club Queen and Bypass to Happiness (both 1934). For the latter film, he was also director. Kimmins went on to direct some twenty films, with his last being The Amorous Mr Prawn (1962). He also produced seven films during the 1950s. His film career also saw him write more than thirty screenplays between 1933 and 1962.
Apart from his film career, Kimmins was a distinguished British naval officer who served in both world wars, eventually rising to the rank of full captain. During World War II, he served on the cruiser Nigeria, alongside Admiral Burrough; the ship was part of Operation Pedestal, whose aim was to resupply Malta, which was on the verge of surrendering to the Axis, as there were almost no supplies. This mission is considered by many to be the turning point of World War II, as the loss of Malta would have resulted in the Axis gaining control of the Mediterranean and, in turn, the Middle East oil fields. Kimmins's war experiences led him to write the short non-fictional works The Merchant Navy (1941) and It Is Upon the Navy (1942).
Smiley Greevins is a cheeky, mischievous and imaginative little boy who lives in the small Australian country town of Murrumbilla. His alcoholic father, Bill is a poor drover who is often away for long periods while his mother, overworked and embittered by her life, is the one who has to deal with Smiley's frequent misadventures. One of these pranks sees Smiley and his friend Joey run foul of the local policeman, Sgt Flaxman. Amused by the careful attention the sergeant is paying their new schoolteacher, Miss Workman, the boys initially enjoy viewing this budding romance from a safe distance. When Flaxman one day escorts Miss Workman to her house, however, Smiley borrows his police bicycle. When he accidentally crashes the bike Smiley and Joey quickly replace it from where they took it and flee the scene.
Determined to buy his own bike Smiley subsequently takes on odd jobs to raise the money for his dream, but in doing so unwittingly helps the local publican, Rankin to sell opium to the local Aborigines. When Smiley's father returns home and steals all the money he has saved Smiley is furious. He confronts his father and in the ensuing argument unintentionally knocks his dad out with a cricket bat. Frightened of the consequences he runs into the bush and is later bitten by a snake. A swagman saves his life and when Smiley gets back to town he tells the police about Rankin, who is subsequently arrested. The story ends with the grateful townsfolk rallying together to buy Smiley his bike.