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King Rat (1965) - Plot Summary Poster

(1965)

Plot Summary

  • 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 story develops, it reveals the hypocrisy of the British class system and for King, the fact that his position in Changi's "society" is tenuous as best.

    - Written by garykmcd
  • The Japanese prisoner-of-war camp Changi in Singapore, which houses Allied POWs, is a living hell. The great mass of POWs are living at a sub-human subsistence level. US Army Corporal King has been living up to his surname, through his control of the camp's black market, and by scamming the officers and other POWs. King has a facility for making deals with the Japanese to obtain the contraband he sells to the POWs. His nemesis is British Lieutenant Robin Grey, the camp provost marshal, a humorless, intense martinet who survives through his strict adherence to the British articles of war, which forbid collaboration with the enemy. He is suspicious of King, and is determined to catch him and bring him to justice. The humorless Grey is an upright, uptight moral prig who has been as badly damaged psychologically as any of the other POWs. The high-living King befriends a genteel young British airman, Peter Marlowe, who at first resists his blandishments, and then succumbs, to his charm. The POWs become aware that the war is drawing to its end, and King and Marlowe grow concerned that the brutal Japanese guards may slaughter the prisoners before they can be liberated. King and Marlowe are determined to raise a large amount of money to buy their freedom by bribing their captors. One of the schemes that King devises is to sell the meat of mouse deer, a native delicacy, to sell to the high-ranking POW officers. Conditions are so desperate in the camp, that POWs are stealing rations form one another in order to stave off starvation. This is another one of King's scams, as the "mouse deer" meat is actually from rats, the breeding stock for which have been the rats that have fed off the corpses of dead POWs. The desperate situation in the camp is exacerbated by the brutality of the Japanese guards, and by the senior British officers' predilection for breaking the will of the POWs in order to maintain camp discipline. Resistance, thus, is futile, and with no other outlet, the animosity of the POWs has to be channeled against each other. It becomes quite apparent that, aside from Lieutenant Grey and the dead, everyone in the camp is corrupt. Corporal King merely stands out, as he is Jack-the-Lad, The King-of-the-Hill, King of the Camp, KING RAT.

    - Written by Jon C. Hopwood
  • 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.

    - Written by duke1029@aol.com

Synopsis

George Segal plays Corporal King, an American soldier in a Japanese prison camp who manages all the black market operations amongst the enforced holding of a group of English and Americans...

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