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Stowaway (1936)

A young girl lost in Shanghai is taken in by an American playboy and his girlfriend.


William A. Seiter


William M. Conselman (screen play) (as William Counselman), Arthur Sheekman (screen play) | 2 more credits »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Shirley Temple ... Ching-Ching aka Barbara 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
Jayne Regan ... Dora Day
Julius Tannen ... First Mate Jenkins
Willie Fung ... Chang
Philip Ahn ... Sun Lo
Paul McVey ... Second Mate


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 »





English | Mandarin

Release Date:

25 December 1936 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ching Ching See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


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. See more »


When Ching-Ching meets Tommy Randall in the shop where he's trying to buy a dragon's head, the shop owner holds up the dragon head to let Tommy Randall see it. In the next shot, the dragon's head is sitting on the counter. See more »


Susan Parker: Do you know where Ching-Ching is?
Tommy Randall: Yes.
Susan Parker: Well, would you mind telling me?
Tommy Randall: She's below, getting ready to leave the ship at the next stop. They're sending her to an orphanage for girls. She'll be marching in lockstep and eating gruel within a week. I hope you like it!
Susan Parker: Surely something can be done. That can't happen to Ching-Ching.
Tommy Randall: Wait a minute, I've got an idea. You're going to marry old sourpuss, aren't you?
Susan Parker: I beg your pardon!
Tommy Randall: I'm sorry, no offense meant. Look, I wanted to adopt Ching-Ching, but ...
See more »


I Wanna Go To The Zoo
(1936) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Revel
Lyrics by Mack Gordon
Copyright 1936 by Robbins Music Corp.
Written for the movie, but not performed
See more »

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User Reviews

From Sea to China Seas
12 May 2007 | by lugonianSee 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, Turner Classic Movies (TCM premiere: January 3, 2013); both in black and white formats; AMC colorized after 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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