The story of a mentally handicapped middle-aged man and how he, and his elderly parents who must take care of him, manage to get along in New York City.


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Credited cast:
Andy Chadakis
Mrs. Chadakis
Zvee Scooler ...
Mr. Chadakis
Murvyn Vye ...
Warren Finnerty ...
William Griffis ...
Al Nesor ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Sudie Bond
Judith Lowry
Lou Martini ...


Mr. and Mrs. Cliadakis, a couple of Greek immigrants, live in a poor neighborhood of New York. Their son, Andy, is in his forties but he has the mental age of a child and his behavior outside the norm is not taken well by the neighbors of the family. Andy's parents therefore decide to put him in a nursing home... Written by Guy Bellinger

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23 January 1965 (USA)  »

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Award: Grand Prix Inter-Clubs du Cinéma 1966, France (Tied with Kaneto Shindo's "Onibaba"). See more »

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22 November 2003 | by (Washington, DC) – See all my reviews

Andy Chadakis is forty and mentally retarded. He lives with his elderly parents in a modest NYC apartment. This film is a two-day slice of his challenging life.

I can't say how realistic a portrayal this is since no one in my family is mentally retarded. But I do have a child with a mental disability, so I can empathize with two issues central to this film: lack of respect for the disabled and its effect on their self-esteem.

It seems the only people who appreciate Andy are children. As the film opens, a group of children are impressed when Andy dislodges a big board from the riverbank, and tosses it into the river. Later, Andy exchanges smiles through his window with a little girl in an adjoining apartment. This exchange ends abruptly when the girl's mother spots Andy and thereupon shutters the window.

Andy's father, Theo, resents the sacrifice he and his wife have paid for forty years to raise and care for Andy. He tells his wife Tessa `Andy costs us too much.' Tessa usually defends Andy, but even she sometimes loses faith in him.

Theo announces to his wife that it's time Andy should be committed to an asylum. Although Tessa reminds Theo that Andy is retarded not `crazy,' Theo intends to stick to his plan for the two of them to have a better life. Tessa responds `We're the only ones who love him. There is nothing wrong with Andy's mind.'

Andy's encounters outside this home are ugly. He is slighted, teased, used, robbed, and beaten. One of my favorite scenes is Andy's encounter with a blind beggar in the subway. I won't tell when happens, but it may be unique in the cinema.

I appreciated this film despite its mostly downbeat, episodic nature, and, for the most part, lack of plot and dramatic drive. However, I think there may be many `Andy's' (and `Andy's parents') in our society with comparable stories. It's important that we understand and respect them as fellow humans.

I reviewed this movie as part of a project at the Library of Congress. I've named the project FIFTY: 50 Notable Films Forgotten Within 50 Years. As best I can determine, this film, like the other forty-nine I've identified, has not been on video, telecast, or distributed in the U.S. since its original release. In my opinion, it is worthy of being made available again.

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