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
At the end of the beginning credits, a medic folds the arms of a newly-deceased prisoner and covers his face with his blanket. As the medic does so, the dead prisoner moves his own fingers as his hands are placed on his upper arms. See more »
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.
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A grimly humorous meditation on power, class, privilege and character difficult to ever forget.
I saw this grainy black and white film sometime in 1967 one steamy evening in a tin hooch Army movie theatre at TSN airfield on the outskirts of Saigon. The movie was punctuated by the sounds of mortars on the perimeter and the occasional flash from an aerial flare. I never forgot it. It rang true there. So true that no-one could say a word after. We just got drunk -- as usual. I haven't talked to many others who saw this movie. It hit right in the middle of the rising tide of despair over Vietnam. And since it wasn't actually an anti-war movie, I think it went nowhere. I believe it's origin is a short novel, possibly autobiographical by J.B. Clavell, author of Tai Pan and other sagas set in the 19th C orient. No matter what George Segal has done since, I have known that he has the heart of a rat. His King was a natural ruler in a perverse state of nature -- and his fate the fate of all maverick rulers in the end. If you can find it and see it, it will take on the character of a lost dream.
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