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King Rat (1965)

Approved | | Drama, War | 27 October 1965 (USA)
Fast-taking wheeler-dealer Corporal King (George Segal), in a Malaysian P.O.W. camp during World War II, uses bribery and larceny to take de facto control of the camp from his senior officers.

Director:

Bryan Forbes

Writers:

James Clavell (based on a novel by), Bryan Forbes (written for the screen by)
Reviews
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
George Segal ... Corporal King
Tom Courtenay ... Grey
James Fox ... Marlowe
Patrick O'Neal ... Max
Denholm Elliott ... Lt. Col. G.D. Larkin
James Donald ... Dr. Kennedy
Todd Armstrong ... Tex
John Mills ... Smedley-Taylor
Gerald Sim ... Jones
Leonard Rossiter ... McCoy
John Standing ... Daven
Alan Webb Alan Webb ... Brant
John Ronane John Ronane ... Hawkins
Sam Reese Sam Reese ... Kurt (as Sammy Reese)
Michael Lees ... Stevens
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Storyline

When Singapore surrendered to the Japanese in 1942, the Allied P.O.W.s, mostly British, but including a few Americans, were incarcerated in Changi prison. This was a P.O.W. camp like no other. There were no walls or barbed-wire fences, for the simple reason that there was no place for the prisoners to which to escape. Included among the prisoners is the American Corporal King (George Segal), a wheeler-dealer who has managed to established a pretty good life for himself in the camp. While most of the prisoners are near starvation and have uniforms that are in tatters, King eats well and and has crisp clean clothes to wear every day. His nemesis is Lieutenant Robin Grey (Sir Tom Courtenay), the camp Provost who attempts to keep good order and discipline. He knows that King is breaking camp rules by bartering with the Japanese, but can't quite get the evidence he needs to stop him. King soon forms a friendship with Lieutenant Peter Marlowe (James Fox), an upper class British officer who ... Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

They made the toughest among them... King! See more »

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Malay | Japanese

Release Date:

27 October 1965 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El caudillo de los desalmados See more »

Filming Locations:

Thousand Oaks, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Coleytown See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This was first announced as a Stanley Kramer production. See more »

Goofs

After Maj. McCoy and the others have been arrested for possessing a radio, and Col. Smedley-Taylor is waiting outside for news, the shadow of the boom mic being lowered is cast over the actors in the background. See more »

Quotes

Cpl. King: How's that chair feel?
Peter Marlowe: Fine.
Cpl. King: Cost me eighty bucks.
Peter Marlowe: Did it? Yes, well I'd never have guessed.
Cpl. King: You'da said more, huh?
Peter Marlowe: No, I don't think so. I don't think I'd have said anything really. I've never been a great 'chair price guesser'.
See more »

Crazy Credits

[Prologue] This is not a story of escape. It is a story of survival.

It is set in Changi Jail Singapore, in 1945

The Japanese did not have to guard Changi as a normal prison of war camp. The inmates of Changi had no friendly Swiss border or any other neutral country within reach. They were held captive not so much by high walls, or barbed wire, or machine-gun posts, but by the land and sea around them - and the jungle was not neutral, nor was the ocean.

They did not live in Changi. They existed. This is the story of that existence. See more »

Connections

Spoofed in King Rat (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

Adeste Fideles
(uncredited)
Written by Frederick Oakeley (1841)
Variation sung in distant background by POWs
See more »

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User Reviews

 
High drama set in a Japanese Prisoner of War Camp
2 August 2002 | by mrinmanSee all my reviews

King Rat is the oddball among James Clavellfs novels, but in my opinion is the best story. The stage is a Japanese Prisoner of War camp where allied officers are forced to literally eat dirt. The horrors of these camps are well documented and in Forbes adaptation of the book little is left to our imagination. That is not to say this is a vividly violent film. It most certainly is not, nor does it need to be as the sheer look of these poor wretched creatures is vivid enough.

While the backdrop is a prison camp, this is not a war movie. It is a tale of humanity and suffering. It centres around one character played brilliantly by Segal, who when outside the barbed wire fences is an ordinary corporal, while inside he is king. He shows ingenuity in obtaining supplies and living well while those around him starve. Soon the high-ranking officers are calling his shots and hence the title King Rat. The movie shows how far man will go, how much pride he can eat and how much dignity he can lose to survive.

The final scene when the prisoners are liberated could have been stronger but you have to realize the date the film was made. Even so, the look of disappointment on Corporal Kingfs face contrasting with the delight of the freed prisoners is quite incredible. An excellent film, highly recommended.


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