In addition to her customary singing, dancing and exceptional line reading for a child her age, Shirley Temple this time goes in for talking Chinese, quoting Oriental proverbs, giving imitations of Jolson, Cantor and Fred Astaire and other departures. She even handles a tearful dramatic exit expertly.
But while the kid is on top at all times, Stowaway, doesn’t make the mistake of some other preceding pictures in permitting the story to run a bad second. This one [from a screen story by Samuel G. Engle], while no masterpiece, is competent in itself and constantly a reasonable basis for the Temple histrionics.
It opens and remains for a brief period ashore in China, then switches to an ocean vessel and remains there most of the way. Daughter of missionary parents who are slain by bandits, the kid meets up with a cruising American playboy in Shanghai and winds up marrying him off. The romantic leads are Robert Young, and Alice Faye, both very good on performance, particularly Young, and with Faye keeping abreast through her singing.
When Temple enters a Chinese amateur show, from the audience, she miraculously appears on the stage with a dummy for her Astaire-Rogers takeoff. But the amateur show itself is such a clever insertion and so well done, that nobody will care about improbabilities.
Songs by Mack Gordon and Harry Revel were intended mostly for Temple, and while they fill the bill, none seems like a smash as presented. Helen Westley does a bangup job with a meddling mother-in-law role.