Paper Tiger recalls the plots of vintage Shirley Temple vehicles in its cutesy relationship between English tutor David Niven and an 11-year-old Japanese moppet (Ando), kidnapped together during turmoil in [Kulagong, a fictitious] Southeast Asian country.
Ando, like Temple, is dimpled, plucky, clever, and more resourceful than any of the adults in the story. He has a fresh, engaging personality, and it isn’t his fault the camera moons over him at every opportunity.
Niven tries hard to breathe subtlety into his coward-turned-hero role, but is impeded by the lame screenplay and plodding direction. Toshiro Mifune, playing Ando’s ambassador father, acts like his mind is elsewhere.