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In 1961, Cliff Robertson starred in The Two Worlds of Charley Gordon, a TV adaptation of Daniel Keyes' story Flowers for Algernon. Determined not to lose out on the film version of this play as he'd done with Days of Wine and Roses, Robertson bought up the movie rights to Keyes' story so that he and he alone would star. This determination paid off in the form of the Best Actor Academy Award for Robertson in 1968. The star plays Charly, a 30-year-old mentally retarded bakery worker. Neurosurgeon Dr. Richard Nemur (Leon Janney) and psychiatrist Dr. Anna Straus (Lilia Skala) approach Charly and ask him to participate in an experiment. Previously, Dr. Nemur was able to accelerate the intelligence of a mouse named Algernon by performing a radical new form of brain surgery; could not such a procedure work on a human being? As a result, Charly not only achieves normal intelligence, but also becomes a genius. Emboldened by his new mental status, Charly proposes marriage to his very receptive special-ed teacher (Claire Bloom). Alas, Charly notices that Algernon has begun to regress, and he reasons that he also will return to his old developmentally challenged state. … More
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Cliff Robertson: 1923-2011
– Los Angeles Times
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Critic Reviews for Charly
I'm told by someone whose opinion I respect that the novel was very moving and very sad. The movie is not. It's science-fiction without gadgets, a horror film without thrills.
The film's main problem is that director Ralph Nelson virtually ignores the philosophical elements of the story and emphasizes its most maudlin aspects, while throwing in a little sci-fi, romance, and spurious social commentary.
Cliff Robertson was rewarded with an Oscar for repeating his TV role, that of a mentally retarded man, and for paying with his own money for the screen adaptation of the popular novel, directed in a pedestrian mode by Ralph Nelson.
This moving film is the crowning achievement of Cliff Robertson's career.
another example of a memorable book which ends up diluted by the lesser talents of screenwriters
Well-acted drama about a retarded man who is turned into a genius in a scientific experiment and then regresses to his original state again.
Audience Reviews for Charly
A mentally retarded bakery worker is given a treatment that makes him smart.
The most striking problem with this film is the incredibly unnecessary and distracting psychedelic sequences that interrupt the story. With bright colors and freeze-frames, the film briefly becomes a music video before returning to the plot.
Ignoring these sequences, the film still suffers because the central question of the story and the source material is whether being smart makes one a better person or happier. The film doesn't seem to care about the ethical dilemmas associated with the doctors' treatment or the effects on Charley. Rather, we get maudlin nonsense and a ham-handed love story that has none of the passion or chemistry that - for example - the love story in My Left Foot features.
Overall, this film may be a victim of its psychedelic times, but that isn't the only thing holding it back from its potential.
I enjoyed the book Flowers for Algernon when I read it in grade school, but seeing it on the screen was a disappointing experience. They changed things for the worse, and the actors were bad, and they had some weird psychedelic stuff in there. I wouldn't recommend seeing this movie.More
REALLY corny, but sweet. And a neat look at what it would be like to go from retarded to a genus, and then have to give it all up and become even more retarded.More
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