King Rat (1965)

Approved  |   |  War, Drama  |  27 October 1965 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 2,969 users  
Reviews: 37 user | 6 critic

A fast-taking wheeler-dealer corporal in a Malaysian POW camp during WWII uses bribery and larceny to take de facto control of the camp from his senior officers.



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



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Todd Armstrong ...
Gerald Sim ...
Alan Webb ...
John Ronane ...
Sam Reese ...
Kurt (as Sammy Reese)
Michael Lees ...


When Singapore surrendered to the Japanese in 1942 the Allied POWs, mostly British but including a few Americans, were incarcerated in Changi prison. This was a POW detention center like no other. There were no walls or barbed-wire fences for the simple reason that there was no place for the prisoners to escape to. Included among the prisoners is the American Cpl. King, 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 Lt. Robin Grey, 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 Lt. Peter Marlowe an upper class British officer who is fascinated with King's élan and no rules approach to life. As the ... Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


He entered WWII a soldier... and left a King. See more »


War | Drama


Approved | See all certifications »




| |

Release Date:

27 October 1965 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Rei de um Inferno  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Dirk Bogarde was offered the extended cameo of Smedley-Taylor. See more »


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 »


Cpl. King: [to Marlowe] You know, before this, everybody had it made but me. The closest I ever got was to read it out of magazines. I used to watch those real fancy dolls getting out of the big cars going to eat the big dinner. And they're always with pigs. You know, real pigs. Fat old guys; but they had it made.
See more »


Referenced in Good Morning, Miss Bliss: The Boy Who Cried Rat (1989) See more »


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

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User Reviews

"Gather round to hear the words of the King"
28 June 2007 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

Many unforgettable films are to be found in the annals of World War II. Avid movie goers know which ones they are. Among my favorites are 'The Great Escape, The Blue Max, Cross of Iron, and of course, Sink The Bismark," But occasionally, a film is made which deviates from the superficial and ventures into the realm of the incredible. That is the essence of "King Rat." Here viewers are exposed to the harsh realities of what it takes to survive in a hell hole, like a Japanese Prisoner of War Camp. Our hero, one, Cpl. King (George Segal) dwells amid hundreds of starving British and a few American P.O.W.s. However, unlike the rest, who are seen as listless, emaciated and dying , King is for the most part, healthy and appears none the worse for wear. One individual who daily wants to know why King, walks about nearly impervious to the obvious conditions is Lt. Robin Grey (Tom Courtenay, convincing in this role). It is his job as Camp Provost Marshal, to maintain order in a camp where smuggling, trading with the enemy and outright theft is common place. Knowing King is secretly dealing with the enemy, Robin daily waits for him to make a mistake. This will be difficult as King relies on the fact, everyone, regardless of rank seeks to stay alive by whatever means. Aiding King is Peter Marlowe (James Fox) who despite his higher rank readily joins King's other 'employees' such as Tex, (Todd Armstrong), Top Sgt. Max (Patrick O'Neal, Lt. G.D. Larkin, (Denholm Elliott), and Col. George Smedley-Taylor (John Mills). But it is the camp Doctor (James Donald) who asks the pertinent question of King. "What is your secret Cpl? Medically, it should be worth a fortune." Throughout this stark and tragic Black and White film, one is equally curious, until we discover King's dark secret. Once we know it, the anger is dissipated by the fact, the war will eventually be over. Then Cpl. King will be called upon to reveal it. A superior movie with top notch acting by every actor. ****

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