Film Review of Stowaway: Shirley Temple in 1936 Musical with Alice Faye and Robert Young

by DerdriuMarriner

In the 1936 film version of "Stowaway," Alice Faye, Shirley Temple and Robert Young sing from Shanghai to Reno.

Guardians do not care about a Chinese orphan’s safety during uprisings.
• She gets robbed and stranded by guardian #2.
• Will a bilingual waif find three a lucky or unlucky charm when she meets an engaged beauty and an eligible bachelor in “Stowaway”?

Shirley Temple made two films with unforgettable singer-actress Alice Faye (May 5, 1915 – May 9, 1998) in 1936:
• "Poor Little Rich Girl," released on July 24, 1936, and
• "Stowaway," released on December 25, 1936.


"Stowaway" was released in time for Christmas: the film ended with Shirley singing "That's What I Want for Christmas"

Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum, Wildwood, New Jersey
Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum, Wildwood, New Jersey


A child with three sets of parents goes through life like a three-ruddered ship in Stowaway by writers William M. Conselman, Nat Perrin, and Arthur Sheekman; producer Buddy G. DeSylva; and director William A. Seiter. Arthur C. Miller, Lloyd Nosler; and Mack Gordon and Harry Revel handle cinematography, editing, and music. Filming showcases California’s Movietone City.

The 87-minute musical adapts Samuel G. Engel’s (1904-1984) story. Its distributor was 20th Century-Fox. Its NYC-premiere and USA-release dates were December 18 and 25, 1936.


The movie begins with orphan Barbara Stewart (Shirley Temple) becoming Rev. and Mrs. Alfred Kruikshank’s (William Stack, Helen Jerome Eddy) ward. Ching-Ching’s parents die during village uprisings. Bandits invade Sanchow.

Alfred insists upon Ching-Ching’s remaining in Sanchow. Magistrate Sun Lo (Philip Ahn) gets his brother Chang (Willie Fung) to escort Ching-Ching to another brother’s home in Shanghai. Chang grabs Ching-Ching’s money and scrams.

Ching-Ching gets lost. She helps 27-year-old Tommy Randall (Robert Young) buy souvenir dragon’s heads. Tommy pays for Ching-Ching’s lunch and Pekingese dog Mr. Woo’s (Ching-Ching) soup bone.

Tommy carouses with Colonel (Eugene Pallette). Ching-Ching chases Mr. Woo, who chases a cat. Ching-Ching sleeps in the trunk while Tommy drives the ship on board.

Ching-Ching hides in Ruth Hope’s (Helen Westley) and Susan Parker’s (Alice Faye) cabin. Susan is Ruth’s son Richard’s (Allan Lane) fiancée. Richard makes less than $10,000/year after two years exporting apes, ivory and peacocks from Bangkok.

SS Victoria’s Captain (Robert Greig) awards Susan Ching-Ching’s temporary guardianship. Ruth catches:

  • Susan and Tommy kissing;

  • Tommy paying $600 for Ching-Ching’s and Susan’s bracelets.

She wires Richard to advance meeting his childhood sweetheart.

Ching-Ching and Susan attend Hong Kong’s vaudeville show. Richard and Ruth observe Tommy carrying Susan across muddy streets. They take Susan back to the ship. Ching-Ching and Tommy visit a tapestry shop.

Tommy accidentally clasps another child’s hand. Police jail Ching-Ching and Tommy for kidnapping. The Captain posts bail.

The Captain anticipates Ching-Ching’s placement in Shanghai’s missionary girls’ home. For losing a $10,000 breach of promise suit, Tommy cannot adopt Ching-Ching. He suggests:

  • Richard and Susan adopting Ching-Ching;

  • Supporting Ching-Ching until he gets married and adopts her.

Richard and Ruth are against adoption. Susan dumps Richard. Susan and Tommy get married in name only.

The movie ends with:

  • Susan going from San Francisco to Reno to divorce Tommy and marry Richard;

  • Judge J.D. Booth (J. Edward Bromberg) ruling against divorce;

  • Ching-Ching – who elsewhere performs “Goodnight, My Love” and “You Gotta S-M-I-L-E To Be H-A-Double P-Y” – singing “That’s What I Want for Christmas” to her adoptive parents before the family Christmas tree.


Stowaway - Trailer

Published on YouTube on October 15, 2013 by FHEfoxconnect ~ URL:



My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.


the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

DVD: "Stowaway"

When Ching-Ching's (Shirley Temple) missionary guardians are killed by Chines bandits, she must fend for herself on the streets of Shanghai.
Shirley Temple films

"Stowaway": Shirley Temple, 1936

STOWAWAY, Shirley Temple, 1936.

Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 10/10/2014, DerdriuMarriner
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