7.6/10
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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

Marlon Brando turned down the lead role. 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: [Having served Marlowe a fried egg] How 'bout that?
Peter Marlowe: Not bad. Not bad at all.
Cpl. King: [Looking slightly offended] What the hell are you talking about? The egg ain't been laid that tastes better than that.
Peter Marlowe: Don't get excited, Fortnum. When we say "not bad", we don't mean "not bad". We mean it's bloody marvelous.
Cpl. King: Yeah? What do you mean when you say "it's bloody marvelous"?
Peter Marlowe: Bit dicey.
Cpl. King: Forget it.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in A Smell of Honey, a Swallow of Brine (1966) 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

Clavell's most researched work
25 March 2002 | by (Sapporo, Japan) – See all my reviews

I saw "King Rat" on television shortly before going to Vietnam. A few months later I was reading the James Clavell novel while serving on DaNang Air Base with air force communications intelligence. It struck me that this book and this movie, which was "researched" by James Clavell when he was a POW in a camp near Singapore during World War II, have the real feel of what it is to be surrounded by enemy forces one almost never sees while being kept isolated on a hot, humid, dusty encampment It's an environment that brings out the best and the worst in mankind. The novel, the movie, and my own war zone experience also point out that adapting to a war zone and mastering the skills that enable one to survive and even prosper there do not necessarily mean that the individual will subsequently be adaptable to "civilization" when he returns to it. The novel, the movie, and my own experiences also raise the questions that are raised in "The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit" (and even in "Rambo" for that matter): Which is more of a challenge and which is the "real" life: adapting to the war zone as a youth or the expectations by "civilization" that you readjust to life back in "the world" as if nothing had happened?


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