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Stowaway (1936)

Approved | | Musical, Adventure, Family | 25 December 1936 (USA)
Ching-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 ... See full summary »



(screen play) (as William Counselman), (screen play) | 2 more credits »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
The Colonel
Kay Swift
Dora Day


Ching-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. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

girl | melodrama | See All (2) »


Approved | See all certifications »





Release Date:

25 December 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ching Ching  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Shirley Temple was tutored in her Chinese dialogue by Bessie Nyi, a UCLA student from Shanghai. When Shirley tried her phrases on the film's extras, they didn't understand her. Her dialogue was in Mandarin, which was appropriate for her character, but the Chinese community of Los Angeles largely spoke Cantonese, and consequently most of the dialogue spoken by the extras in the movie is in Cantonese, which was not spoken in Shanghai, where this film is set. See more »


It appears as though Alice Faye after finishing a game of shuffleboard with her fiancé, Mr. Hope, changed from wearing a pair of shorts to a sun-dress of sorts. In one scene she is seen leaving the ship's shuffleboard area in shorts and then entering an interior cabin in the sun-dress. After playing shuffleboard, Alice Faye buttons on a wrap-around skirt. See more »


Sun Lo: [to Shirley Temple] May your shadow lengthen always in the sun of happiness.
See more »


Edited into Myra Breckinridge (1970) See more »


(1932) (uncredited)
Music by Ralph Rainger
Lyrics by Leo Robin
Originally from The Big Broadcast (1932)
Copyright 1932 by Famous Music Corp.
Sung by Sammee Tong
See more »

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User Reviews

From Sea to China Seas
12 May 2007 | by See all my reviews

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? (***)

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