Charly (1968)



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Movie Info

This TV adaptation of Daniel Keyes' story Flowers for Algernon) features Charly, a 30-year-old mentally retarded bakery worker. When a neurosurgeon and a psychiatrist ask Charly to participate in an experiment, Charly becomes a genius, but the change turns out to be only temporary.


Cliff Robertson
as Charly Gordon
Claire Bloom
as Alice Kinian
Lilia Skala
as Dr. Anna Straus
Leon Janney
as Dr. Richard Nemur
Ruth White
as Mrs. Apple
Ralph Nelson
as Convention speaker
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Critic Reviews for Charly

All Critics (18) | Top Critics (2)

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.

May 9, 2005 | Rating: 1.5/5

As the story of a personality in crisis, it works.

Oct 23, 2004 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Several sequences are risible (Charly as a surly biker?), the romance is scarcely believable, and the use of split-screen quickly grows wearying.

Feb 8, 2019 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

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.

Jun 6, 2007 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

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.

Apr 20, 2007 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…

This moving film is the crowning achievement of Cliff Robertson's career.

Feb 18, 2006 | Rating: B | Full Review…

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.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Charly lives because Cliff Robertson is incredible. His performance makes the film just so brilliant in a sense, and I loved him. The films itself has a great message and I enjoyed it.

Bradley Wright
Bradley Wright

Super Reviewer


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.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

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.

Curtis Lilly
Curtis Lilly

Super Reviewer

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