Chin-Ching gets lost in Shanghai and is befriended by American playboy Tommy Randall. She falls asleep in his car which winds up on a ship headed for America. Susan Parker, also on the ship, marries Randall to give Chin-Ching a family.
Shirley Temple ... Barbara 'Ching-Ching' Stewart
Robert Young ... Tommy Randall
Alice Faye ... Susan Parker
Eugene Pallette ... The Colonel
Helen Westley ... Mrs. Hope
Arthur Treacher ... Atkins
Allan Lane ... Richard Hope
J. Edward Bromberg ... Judge J.D. Booth
Astrid Allwyn ... Kay Swift
Robert Greig ... Captain of SS Victoria
Jayne Regan ... Dora Day
Julius Tannen ... Jenkins, First Mate
Willie Fung ... Chang, Boatman
Philip Ahn ... Sun Lo
Paul McVey ... Second Mate
1936 was a breakthrough year for Alice Faye for two reasons. First this was when stopped being 20th Century Fox's platinum blond answer to MGM's Jean Harlow. But Darryl Zanuck did her a big favor when he hired the songwriting team of Mack Gordon and Harry Revel away from Paramount and for the next five years they were practically Alice Faye's personal composers. Nearly all the succeeding films she did had a Gordon-Revel song in it and after Mack and Harry split up, Gordon continued to write with Harry Warren as a partner for 20th Century Fox. Gordon in fact put more words in Alice Faye's mouth than any other lyricist.
Gordon and Revel wrote a couple of songs for this Shirley Temple film Stowaway where she unites Alice Faye and Robert Young to become her new parents. The setting is China though they never got anywhere near the real Kuomintang China for this film. Shirley's an orphan who's being raised by some missionaries in place of her parents who were also missionaries. When bandits are threatening the mission, Shirley's sent to Shanghai. But Willie Fung to whom she's entrusted skips out on her and leaves her and her Pekinese dog stranded.
But our little moppet is resourceful and she charms playboy Robert Young and later Alice Faye who's engaged to both Allan Lane and his mother Helen Westley. That's right Lane and Westley are definitely a package deal. It's a Shirley Temple film so any of you who are fans of her's know exactly how things go here.
Gordon and Revel wrote for Stowaway my favorite ballad of their's and one of the best movie songs ever done, Goodnight My Love. Alice even got to record this one. First Shirley sings it and then Alice does it as an adult obbligato with adult lyrics. It was one of Alice Faye's best loved movie songs though the real hit record was done by the Benny Goodman Orchestra and a new vocalist he had hired, one Ella Fitzgerald. You can't go wrong with either recording.
Helen Westley also does well as the prospective mother-in-law from hell and my favorite in the supporting cast is J. Edward Bromberg who after Shirley testifies at a divorce hearing, refuses to grant a divorce for Young and Faye.
It's one of Shirley Temple and Alice Faye's best films and even today you will love how orphan Shirley finds a family that she has to put together.
STOWAWAY (20th Century-Fox,1936), directed by William A. Seiter, places child star Shirley Temple in shipboard story set in China for her fourth and final 1936 film release. It consists of everything from adventure, romance, music and doses of comedy. The precocious Temple even gets to speak Chinese as well as recite ancient Chinese proverbs. Other than that, she's supported by a strong cast headed by Robert Young (on loan from MGM) and Fox's own songstress Alice Faye, very well on her way in becoming the studio's top attraction.
The story begins in Sanchow, China, where orphan Barbara Stewart, better known as "Ching-Ching" (Shirley Temple), is now the ward of a missionary couple (William Stack and Helen Jerome-Eddy). As bandits come to attack the city, Sun Lo (Philip Ahn), loyal friend of Barbara's deceased parents, places her and her dog on a boat with Chang (Willie Fung) as her guide, bound for Shanghai where she is to be left under the care Sun-Lo's brother. After Chang takes off with her money to go gambling, Ching-Ching wanders off in Shanghai looking food and a soup bone for her dog. While there she encounters Tommy Randall (Robert Young), an wealthy American playboy on an extended cruise, wanting to purchase a Dragon's Head in a souvenir shop, and having a difficult time communicating with the proprietor. After helping him with the Chinese-English translations, Tommy decides to take the little girl along with him to see what he can do for her after learning she's a wandering orphan. Afterwards, the two become separated, a rain storm finds Ching Ching seeking shelter in the trunk of Tommy's sports roadster where she and her dog fall asleep. During that time, Tommy's car is transported on board ship. Hours out of port and sailing through the China seas, Ching-Ching awakens, pops out of the roadster and finds herself a stowaway. Afraid of being arrested, she hides out in the state room of Susan Randall (Alice Faye), a young girl traveling with her future mother-in-law, Mrs. Hope (Helen Westley) to meet her childhood sweetheart and fiancé, Richard (Allan Lane) stationed in Bangkak, Siam on an engineering job. After encountering the child, Susan informs the good-natured captain (Robert Greig) she'll be responsible for her. Their union leads to Ching-Ching's reunion with Tommy, and the attraction of the young couple she's befriended, thus causing the meddlesome Mrs. Hope to send for her Richard before things get too involved. Situations do become complex when the captain, learning the child has no living relatives, to do his duty by sending Ching-Ching to an orphanage once the boat docks in Singapore, and having her separated from Tommy and Susan.
A very involving yet good-natured story of how fate steps in when a lost child encounters strangers along the way and becoming involved in their lives. In true Temple tradition, songs numbers are cleverly worked into the story as added attractions. With music and lyrics by Mack Gordon and Harry Revel (otherwise noted), the motion picture soundtrack is as follows: "Goodnight, My Love" (Sung by Shirley Temple); "Goodnight, My Love" (sung by Alice Faye); "Please" by Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger (sung by Chinaman imitating Bing Crosby); "You Got to S.M.I.L.E." (sung by Temple); "One Never Knows, Does One? (sung by Faye); and "That's What I Want for Christmas" (sung by Temple) by Irving Caesar and Gerald Marks.
Although Temple introduces the film's best song, "Goodnight, My Love," it's Faye's rendition that comes off best. Her only other number, "One Never Knows" finds her memorably standing alone in her stateroom with the moonlight and reflections of the China seas as the backdrop. Faye and Young make a fine pair in what was to become their only collaboration on screen. As for Shirley, she stops the show midway as a participant in a Chinese "Major Bowes" talent contest telling everybody in song they got to "S.M.I.L.E," followed by her imitations of Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor, and doing the Ginger Rogers dancing bit opposite a Fred Astaire look-alike dummy. How convenient to have all those props available and everything else done to perfection without any pre-planning. Yet for Temple movies such as this, entertainment's the key factor. Nothing else matters.
Other members in the cast include the familiar faces of Eugene Palette as The Colonel; Arthur Treacher as Randall's butler, Adkins; Astrid Allwyn as Kay Swift; J. Edward Bromberg adding some amusing bits as Judge J.D. Booth in the Reno sequence.
When STOWAWAY used to air on local television back in the 1960s and 70s, this 87 minute feature would be placed into a 90 minute time slot. To make room for commercial breaks, certain scenes were either altered or completely cut, notably an extended scene in Hong Kong where Temple and Young find themselves arrested and placed in jail due to a misunderstanding involving a Chinese woman's missing child.
Complete prints to STOWAWAY became available in the late 1980s through CBS-Fox Video, as well as in the colorized format on both VHS and DVD. Cable television history consists of the Disney Channel (1980s); American Movie Classics (1996-2001, black and white format; colorized post 2007); and on the Fox Movie Channel.
STOWAWAY is a fun and agreeable film that should still be of interest to viewers of all ages, thanks to the knowhow and ever presence of Temple and company. One never knows, does one?
Shirley Temple, Robert Young, and Alice Faye star in this wonderful family film. Shirley Temple plays Barbara Stewart aka Ching-Ching, a lovable child who befriends Tommy Randall (Robert Young) in China. Both end up on a ship going to the United States. There they both meet Susan Parker (Alice Faye, in a brilliant performance). If you like Shirley Temple films and haven't seen this one you definitely should. Shirley was always great in her films and this one is no exception.
# New York dateline, November 17, 1938: Composers Galore Say Tune in "Stowaway" was Pirated [Headline]. Plagiarism suits and claims plagued 20th Century-Fox this week, with all parts of the world represented, apparently, in the allegations that the Mack Gordon-Harry Revel tune "Good Night, My Love," which was used in the 1936 Shirley Temple picture "Stowaway" had been pirated wholly or in part. In Argentina, a musical trial was held in a Buenos Aires theater with the audience, admitted on free passes, acting as a jury. Two reels of the picture were exhibited and the song of the claimant, Juan Calabria, and the Gordon-Revel piece were played. The audience found for the plaintiff. Twentieth Century-Fox's legal department, taking the position that the audience-jury was "packed," is moving for a dismissal. Charles McCord, a New York tune smith, is suing for $60,000 damages from 20th Century-Fox, alleging that Gordon and Revel lifted music from a song he wrote as the basis for "Good Night, My Love." Claims have also been received from Europe also. So maybe it isn't surprising that Edwin P. Kilroe, copyright expert of the company's legal staff, said yesterday that he was waiting to hear from the heirs of Verdi and Brahams. Gordon and Revel were to arrive in New York this week from the coast.
# After filming of this movie was completed, Shirley Temple was given the Pekingese dog that had played her character's pet dog, "Mr. Woo." Temple renamed the dog "Ching-Ching," after her character in the movie.