7.6/10
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41 user 9 critic

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:
... Cpl. King
... Grey
... Marlowe
... Max
... Larkin
... Dr. Kennedy
... Tex
... Smedley-Taylor
Gerald Sim ... Jones
... McCoy
... Daven
Alan Webb ... Brant
John Ronane ... Hawkins
Sam Reese ... Kurt (as Sammy Reese)
... 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:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Nat King Cole approached Bryan Forbes looking for a part in " King Rat ", but Forbes had to tell him there wasn't anything suitable available. Forbes was a huge fan of Cole. See more »

Goofs

Just before the camp is liberated we can hear an airplane fly over and it is definitely a propeller operated plane; however, the scene displays a jet flying over complete with vapor trails. However, the B-29 Bomber is a 4 engined prop plane which flew high enough to leave substantial contrails (30,000ft+). Bombers normally flew in large formations but this is a single aircraft which may allude to the Enola Gay, which dropped the first Atomic bomb indicating that Japanese surrender imminent. However, the Enola Gay was accompanied by other B-29s on her atomic bomb raid. See more »

Quotes

Peter Marlowe: [Very grateful] You know there's nothing I can say.
Cpl. King: Well, you could say I'm a genius... a. you could say that.
See more »

Connections

Spoofed in King Frat (1979) 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

A pitiless world
11 March 2003 | by See all my reviews

I saw this movie again recently and had forgotten how great it was. It shows how people behave towards each other when the thin veil of civil society is torn away.In a brilliant performance, George Segal plays the wheeler-dealer 'King Rat, a cynical hustler whose only real interest is himself. His counterparts in the Japanese POW camp are the British officers who seem to maintain the rules and courtesies of civilized life. As the movie, unfolds, though, we see the senior officers using their position to steal food from the lower ranks. Even the British provost marshal, or camp policeman (another great performance by Tom Courtenay), is shown to be a weak character, vengeful and sanctimonious, who must believe in retribution to bolster his fragile ego.

'King Rat's' one true friend in the camp is played by James Fox. But the Segal character can't really be a friend to anyone. One of the prices of cynicism is emotional shallowness. In the end Segal tells his best friend - 'You worked for me, I paid you a few bucks, that's all there was between us.' The film makes it clear that the action applies to the wider world. Unlike the other prisoners, the Segal character is neither shocked nor excited by liberation. To him, the everyday world is as pitiless as the POW camp.


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