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King Rat (1965)

Approved | | War, Drama | 27 October 1965 (USA)
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.

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(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

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Max
...
Larkin
...
Todd Armstrong ...
Tex
...
Gerald Sim ...
Jones
...
McCoy
...
Daven
Alan Webb ...
Brant
John Ronane ...
Hawkins
Sam Reese ...
Kurt (as Sammy Reese)
Michael Lees ...
Stevens
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

War | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

27 October 1965 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El caudillo de los desalmados  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Some of the actors had been POWS in the Second World War. Denholm Elliott, while serving in the RAF, had been shot down and taken prisoner by the Nazis. See more »

Goofs

When Max lifts the pot of boiling water from the hot plate he lifts it from the bottom to pour with his bare hand, which he shouldn't be able to do if the pot is hot enough to boil water. See more »

Quotes

Lt. Robin Grey: Where's the money?
Cpl. King: What money, sir?
Lt. Robin Grey: [Impatiently] The money from the sale of the diamond!
Cpl. King: [Acting as if he doesn't know what Grey's talking about] What diamond, sir?
Lt. Robin Grey: All right, all right, Corporal. The War will be over one day, and then you'll get yours!
Cpl. King: [Condescendingly] All right, sir. I believe you... but until then...
[He salutes half-heartedly and leaves]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Good Morning, Miss Bliss: The Boy Who Cried Rat (1989) 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 (Sydney, Australia) – See 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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