King Rat (1965)

134 mins | Drama | 27 October 1965

Director:

Bryan Forbes

Writer:

Bryan Forbes

Producer:

James Woolf

Cinematographer:

Burnett Guffey

Editor:

Walter Thompson

Production Designer:

Robert Smith

Production Company:

Coleytown Productions, Inc.
Full page view
HISTORY

According to a 29 Jul 1962 NYT article, screenwriter-producer-director James Clavell decided to write his first novel, King Rat, after he began telling anecdotes to friends about his experiences at Changi Prison in Singapore, where he spent three years as a prisoner during World War II. Before the book was completed, the 22 Jun 1961 DV announced that Clavell had established Cee Productions, which would retain motion picture rights for an eventual feature film. Little, Brown and Company published King Rat in the summer of 1962, around which time Columbia Pictures purchased the property from Clavell for $157,500. A 1 Aug 1962 DV report indicated that the deal also included ten percent of net profits. According to the 22 May 1963 Var, Clavell decided against adapting his own work for the screen, but embarked on a trip to Southeast Asia to “reacquaint himself” with the region. At this time, the budget was set at $4 million.
       An LAT article published that same day indicated that producer Carl Foreman hoped the shoot the picture near Singapore with a cast of esteemed English actors, including Peter O’Toole, Trevor Howard, John Mills, and Albert Finney. By the end of the year, however, Foreman decided to leave the project. The 8 Nov 1963 LAT quoted him as saying, “I feel now I have nothing more to say about war,” after four consecutive pictures on the subject, three of which dealt specifically with WWII. James Woolf signed on as his replacement, while British actor-turned-filmmaker Bryan Forbes worked on the screenplay and prepared to direct his first Hollywood feature.
       Throughout ... More Less

According to a 29 Jul 1962 NYT article, screenwriter-producer-director James Clavell decided to write his first novel, King Rat, after he began telling anecdotes to friends about his experiences at Changi Prison in Singapore, where he spent three years as a prisoner during World War II. Before the book was completed, the 22 Jun 1961 DV announced that Clavell had established Cee Productions, which would retain motion picture rights for an eventual feature film. Little, Brown and Company published King Rat in the summer of 1962, around which time Columbia Pictures purchased the property from Clavell for $157,500. A 1 Aug 1962 DV report indicated that the deal also included ten percent of net profits. According to the 22 May 1963 Var, Clavell decided against adapting his own work for the screen, but embarked on a trip to Southeast Asia to “reacquaint himself” with the region. At this time, the budget was set at $4 million.
       An LAT article published that same day indicated that producer Carl Foreman hoped the shoot the picture near Singapore with a cast of esteemed English actors, including Peter O’Toole, Trevor Howard, John Mills, and Albert Finney. By the end of the year, however, Foreman decided to leave the project. The 8 Nov 1963 LAT quoted him as saying, “I feel now I have nothing more to say about war,” after four consecutive pictures on the subject, three of which dealt specifically with WWII. James Woolf signed on as his replacement, while British actor-turned-filmmaker Bryan Forbes worked on the screenplay and prepared to direct his first Hollywood feature.
       Throughout the early stages of development, multiple sources referenced plans to shoot the picture in Asia or England, but Forbes told the 10 Jul 1965 NYT that he and his team were deterred by the heat and tropical conditions of the Singapore locations, and opted instead to recreate the setting in Southern California. The article noted that this choice reflected a recent change in trend that saw more filmmakers choosing to shoot domestically, partly due to rising production costs overseas. However, the decision posed other problems, since the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) began aggressively enforcing rules preventing filmmakers from using foreign actors for roles that could otherwise be played by Americans. The 7 Feb 1965 NYT claimed that Columbia attempted to hire expatriates for thirty-eight such roles, but only eight were approved.
       According to a 27 Feb 1964 LAT item, Frank Sinatra and Steve McQueen were both approached to play U.S. “Corporal King” before Forbes selected the relatively unknown George Segal. Items in the 27 Jan 1964, 17 Apr 1964, and 25 Aug 1964 LAT and 10 Sep 1964 DV reported that Vince Edwards, Michael Callan, Chris Warfield, and Robert Wagner were also considered for roles. LAT confirmed eight of the principal actors on 17 Sep 1964, while announcements in the 5 Oct 1964 and 9 Dec 1964 DV named Mickey Simpson, William Beckley, James Forrest, and Brian Goffiken among the supporting cast, although they may have been uncredited.
       A 9 Oct 1964 DV production chart indicated that principal photography began 21 Sep 1964. Nearly all of filming took place on a twelve-acre recreation of Changi Prison constructed at the Glenmore Ranch in Thousand Oaks, CA, which a 30 Sep 1964 DV article claimed required the work of two hundred laborers. Roughly half were hired on “permit,” as the trade unions could not meet the demand alone. Approximately 300 feet long, the set contained a large vegetable garden and cabbage patch, three miles of roads, palm trees, and fifty-two bamboo huts, which were fully decorated for interior filming. Only two or three scenes were expected to be shot at the Columbia studios in Hollywood. While the story listed expenses of $400,000 (plus the cost of foliage), the 27 Aug 1964 DV estimated a much higher price of $750,000. According to the 21 Oct 1964 LAT, photography was scheduled to conclude 20 Dec 1964.
       Despite Forbes’s plans to score, edit, and dub the film in London, England, a 9 Apr 1965 DV brief revealed that composer John Barry was required to work in Hollywood at the insistence of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) Local 47 union.
       A preview screening took place 26 Oct 1965 at the Directors Guild of America theater in Los Angeles, as stated in an LAT item two days later. Afterward, Mike Nichols hosted a party at Whisky a Go-Go in honor of Segal, who was currently appearing in the director’s first motion picture, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966, see entry). According to the 19 Oct 1965 DV, King Rat was set to open 27 Oct 1965 for a “world premiere” engagement at the Victoria, Beekman, and Murray Hill theaters in New York City. The Los Angeles release began the following week, on 5 Nov 1965, at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
       King Rat received Academy Award nominations for Art Direction (Black-and-White) and Cinematography (Black-and-White). More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
22 Jun 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
1 Aug 1962
p. 1.
Daily Variety
31 Jul 1964
p. 2.
Daily Variety
27 Aug 1964
p. 2.
Daily Variety
10 Sep 1964
p. 2.
Daily Variety
16 Sep 1964
p. 3.
Daily Variety
30 Sep 1964
p. 11.
Daily Variety
5 Oct 1964
p. 4.
Daily Variety
9 Oct 1964
p. 12.
Daily Variety
9 Dec 1964
p. 4.
Daily Variety
12 Jan 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
14 Jan 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
9 Apr 1965
p. 1.
Daily Variety
19 Oct 1965
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
22 May 1963
Section C, p. 18.
Los Angeles Times
8 Nov 1963
Section D, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
27 Jan 1964
Section C, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
27 Feb 1964
Section C, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
17 Apr 1964
Section D, p. 15.
Los Angeles Times
25 Aug 1964
Section D, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
22 Jul 1964
Section D, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
17 Sep 1964
Section C, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
21 Oct 1964
Section D, p. 16.
Los Angeles Times
21 Oct 1965
Section D, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
28 Oct 1965
Section A, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
5 Nov 1965
Section C, p. 12.
New York Times
29 Jul 1962
p. 166.
New York Times
7 Feb 1965
Section X, p. 7.
New York Times
10 Jul 1965
p. 15.
New York Times
28 Oct 1965
p. 48.
Variety
8 Aug 1962
p. 19.
Variety
22 May 1963
p. 13.
Variety
1 Jan 1964
p. 12.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst cam
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
COSTUMES
Men's cost
MUSIC
Mus comp & cond
SOUND
Sd supv
Boom op
Dub ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
Scr girl
Stills
Gaffer
Constr coordinator
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel King Rat by James Clavell (New York, 1962).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
27 October 1965
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 27 October 1965
Los Angeles opening: 5 November 1965
Production Date:
21 September--20 December 1964
Copyright Claimant:
Coleytown Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
1 August 1965
Copyright Number:
LP31865
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
134
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

U. S. Corporal King is the opportunistic, cynical head of a black market operation in a Japanese prisoner of war camp on Singapore just before the end of World War II. In the camp are approximately 10,000 British, Australian, and American prisoners, most of whom outrank King, and all of whom are sick and emaciated. King maintains his own health through such methods as breeding rats and selling them as food to his fellow prisoners. He befriends British Flight Lieutenant Marlowe, who speaks Malay and thus can barter with the corrupt camp guards, and he saves Marlowe's life by paying a high price for stolen antibiotics. The provost marshal of the camp, Lieutenant Grey, King's implacable enemy, sees King's behavior as immoral and is constantly frustrated by his inability to catch King in black market deals. He is about to do so when the Japanese announce that the war is over. King and Marlowe go their separate ways, King rejecting Marlowe's offer of friendship now that the camp life ruled by King has ... +


U. S. Corporal King is the opportunistic, cynical head of a black market operation in a Japanese prisoner of war camp on Singapore just before the end of World War II. In the camp are approximately 10,000 British, Australian, and American prisoners, most of whom outrank King, and all of whom are sick and emaciated. King maintains his own health through such methods as breeding rats and selling them as food to his fellow prisoners. He befriends British Flight Lieutenant Marlowe, who speaks Malay and thus can barter with the corrupt camp guards, and he saves Marlowe's life by paying a high price for stolen antibiotics. The provost marshal of the camp, Lieutenant Grey, King's implacable enemy, sees King's behavior as immoral and is constantly frustrated by his inability to catch King in black market deals. He is about to do so when the Japanese announce that the war is over. King and Marlowe go their separate ways, King rejecting Marlowe's offer of friendship now that the camp life ruled by King has ended. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.