Pssst, want to check out King Rat in our new look?
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One of the few books I remember reading off my dad's shelf when I was a kid was James Clavell's King Rat, based on the author's own POW experiences in the South Pacific. It makes an engaging film, with George Segal as the title character, an enterprising prisoner who essentially runs the camp through capitalist ventures and scheming, rank be damned. It's hard not to admire King's ingenuity, but there's a cold, pragmatic callousness to him as well, and under the surface, there's an indictment of the Western way of life for which the soldiers have fought for. Corruption of ideals. False friendships (though there's an ambiguity to King's final rejection - he might be freeing his friend from an actionable association). Cruel manipulation. The novel ended with rats eating each other, after all. The film belies its 1965 release date with its setting and (often gorgeous) black and white, so I think they could have gotten away with that final image. They instead go with something more actorly, which is fine.
Fantastic script, characters and cinematography. A truly forgotten gem.
to see which of your friends have seen this movie!