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James Clavell incorporated a few of his own experiences as a British POW in his novel King Rat. Bryan Forbes' film version stars George Segal as the mastermind of all black market operations in a Japanese prison camp. He is called "King Rat" because of his breeding of rodents to serve as food for his emaciated fellow prisoners; the nickname also alludes to Segal's shifty personality. British officer James Fox helps Segal expand his operation to include trading with the Japanese officers. Though on surface level a thoroughly selfish sort, Segal saves the ailing Fox's life by wangling precious antibiotics from the guards.
George Segal gave probably the best performance of his career.
James Fox also gives an outstanding performance as Segal's British counterpart who come under Segal's spell and begins to do alot of his dirty work for him. There are many WWII prison camp films, but King Rat stands out for its gritty treatment of how prisoners survive in there bleak and painful worlds, where the meaning of hope has long been forgotten.
"King Rat" was deservedly nominated for an Academy Award for "Best Cinematography, Black-and-White"
Although the film shows the hardships and brutality of the POW camp, it's far from one-note or bleak. There are scenes of high humor and gaiety, complex interpersonal relationships and dealings, and a variety of complex characters. All in all, King Rat is a delicious and riveting film, arguably the best POW film ever.
Wow. That's directing and cinematography! Can the new generation of filmmakers please watch movies, like this one, to understand how to keep an audiences attention, and how to cut between scenes while still keeping intrigue? This movies story could have gone in any one of the typical directions... but, instead, it explores directions which I have not seen in any movie about war, or POW camps, before. And I do mean directions, with an s. It's an intelligent, realistic story, in many ways. And kudos to a superb group of dramatic and charismatic actors!
Truly superior WW2 prison camp drama. Extraordinary cast of male actors.
Superbly acted tale of the separate microcosm world of a prisoner of war camp where mainly British and a few American soldiers are held by the Japanese under inhumane conditions and the rise of a clever man who manipulates the situation to allow himself to survive without the hardships everyone else endures. He manages to corrupt the highest officers into going along with his corruption, but his elevated status does not survive liberation. A gripping psychological study of men under extreme duress.
King Rat is an excellent film. It is about a fast-taking wheeler-dealer corporal in a Malaysian POW camp during WWII. George Segal and James Fox give amazing performances. The screenplay is well written. Bryan Forbes did a great job directing this movie. I enjoyed watching this motion picture because of the drama. King Rat is a must see.
A great study on human nature
excellent cast, script, story, in b
Such Decrepit Conditions Push Behaviour Where Rats (Prisoners) In Cages Lose All Sense Of Dignity... Not Much Further Takes You Toward Insanity & You'd Do Anything To Survive. Crazy, Immoral Ideas Don't Seem So Unusual In Such Circumstances..Poor Bloody Guys. The Loss Of Hope Would Of Been The Biggest Killer.
Many issues, great characters, excellent acting. Hard to watch, but a microcosm of society under unbelievable stress.
Written and directed by Bryan Forbes, (Whistle Down The Wind (1961), Séance on a Wet Afternoon (1964) and The Stepford Wives (1975)), and adapted from James Clavell's 1962 novel. This is a tough and down and dirty prisoner of war film. It was also Forbes' first American film, filmed in Southern California, Forbes was lucky to get the very best of British actors to go to America to work on this film. Set during World War II in South East Asia on a POW camp ran by the Japanese, there's a mixture of British, Australian and a handful of American troops on site, one of the American's is Corporal King (George Segal), who always seems to be better kept and smarter than the soldiers suffering under the labour and heat of the camp, and that's because he's running a black market operation on camp. He becomes friendly with RAF officer Peter Marlowe (James Fox), who acts as a translator for King, but this puts Marlowe at a disadvantage, and it puts him at loggerheads with Lieutenant Grey (Tom Courtenay), who can't stand King. It's a heavy going film, and shot in a stark black and white, this is a compelling and engaging character piece, and Forbes also has the likes of Denholm Elliott, Leonard Rossiter, Geoffrey Bayldon and John Mills in the film, and they give this Hollywood production a distinctively British feel, although Forbes had to fight to cast them.