Charly (1968)

Charly (1968)

Produced & directed by Ralph Nelson (Lilies of the Field (1963)) with a story based on Daniel Keyes’s “Flowers for Algernon” and a screenplay by Stirling Silliphant (In the Heat of the Night (1967)) this slightly above average drama earned Cliff Robertson (in the title role) a Best Actor Oscar his only Academy recognition. Charly Gordon is a retarded adult who attends a night school that’s taught by Alice Kinnian (Claire Bloom). But the education doesn’t take making him frustrated enough to allow her and other scientists Doctors Strauss (Lilia Skala) & Nemur (Leon Janney) to try something which helped a lab mouse named Algernon master mazes on him! Although it doesn’t work at first Charly undergoes a rapid miraculous transformation into a super brain with an insatiable thirst for knowledge. His IQ (intelligence quotient) improvement causes Strauss & Nemur to plan a future demonstration at a science symposium. Charly begins a romantic relationship with his “teacher” Alice but this and other influences only serves to demonstrate that his emotional maturity hasn’t kept up with his newfound mental abilities which later prove to be short-lived. Some silly scenes and (strange) experimental cinematography which follow make this less than it could have been. Ruth White plays Mrs. Apple who (if I remember correctly) runs the apartment building where Charly lives. Dick Van Patten is Bert the lab guy Algernon’s keeper.

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