When Singapore surrendered to the Japanese in 1942, the Allied POWs, mostly British but including a few Americans, were incarcerated in Changi prison. 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. King soon forms a friendship with Lt. Peter Marlowe, an upper class British officer who is fascinated with King's élan approach to life.