''King Rat'' deserves a remake -- EW suggests a new version of the graphic 1965 war film

By Mark Harris
Updated August 19, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT

In 1965, with American unease about involvement in Vietnam simmering, audiences weren’t quite ready for King Rat, writer-director Bryan Forbes’ tough story of a cynical hustler (George Segal) who turns the minor commerce of favor trading in a WWII POW camp in Singapore into a dark art. Most mid-’60s war movies were still about Battle of the Bulge-style heroics; this one, with its visceral depiction of the consequences of internment, was, according to The New York Times‘ outraged critic, ”putrid” and ”nauseous.” Actually, it was neither — its depiction of the ways in which men can be turned into animals by being treated like animals was just a little ahead of its time. Forty years later, it’s a story that could resonate for a new generation of filmgoers.