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Charly (1968)

An intellectually disabled man undergoes an experiment that gives him the intelligence of a genius.



(novel), (screenplay)

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »


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A mentally-challenged man named Charly undergoes a series of experimental tests to increase his intelligence.

Charly II (1980)
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Director: Cliff Robertson
Stars: Cliff Robertson, Pete Kovner, Hamilton Benz


Complete credited cast:
Bert (as Richard Van Patten)
Edward McNally ...
Gimpy (as Skipper McNally)
William Dwyer ...
Dan Morgan ...


Charly is an adult male with a cognitive disability struggling to survive in the modern world. His frequent attempts at learning, reading, and writing prove difficult. His teacher, Miss Kinian, takes Charly to the clinic where he is observed by doctors who have Charly "race" a mouse, Algernon. Algernon is usually the winner thanks to an experiment that greatly raised his intelligence. This experiment is given to Charly, who at first does not seem affected. However, he becomes more logically advanced, eventually becoming a pure genius. Emotional and intra-personal consequences are involved when Charly learns the truth of the experiment, and struggles with whether or not the procedure was a good idea. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The Poignant Incredible Story of A Man Whose Two Worlds Collide! See more »


Drama | Romance | Sci-Fi


M | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

23 September 1968 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Charly  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Cliff Robertson saw more than one TV production he'd starred in turned into hit movies with other actors (such as Days of Wine and Roses (1962)), so when he starred in the 1961 The United States Steel Hour (1953) production of "The Two Worlds of Charlie Gordon," based on the novel "Flowers for Algernon" by Daniel Keyes, he bought the rights and later was responsible for turning that story into this film. See more »


In the lounge scene where Charly assists the mentally challenged busboy, Charly's hair switches back and forth from dry to slicked back. See more »


[Charly finds Alice waiting for him in his room]
Alice Kinnian: Saw your cycle outside.
Charly Gordon: It's for sale.
Alice Kinnian: What did you learn?
Charly Gordon: I'm back. What did you learn?
Alice Kinnian: I'm here.
[Alice walks to him in a smile]
See more »


Spoofed in Ernest Goes to School (1994) See more »

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User Reviews

Trivializes the Book and Its Purpose
28 June 2009 | by See all my reviews

Before watching Charly I had been told to avoid watching this film having just read the book. Of course I didn't do myself justice and decided to watch the film anyway. The film simply rushes through the whole storyline trying to fit too many themes in a minimum amount of opportunities in a mere hour and forty minutes.

As stated before the length of the film was much too short in order to get across the message in an efficient way let alone in a strong manner. This had a large indirect or maybe direct effect on the performance of that of Cliff Robertson who plays Charly. The transformation of his happens at lightning quick speed which undermines the book in not displaying the long and grueling process Charly had to face in which he was constantly being treated like a lab experiment. Also the way he deals with his feeling on loneliness and lack or respect is in no way the same as he did in the book which was much more understandable and seemingly much more realistic in the way Charly would have reacted. Instead in the movie he drives off and becomes wild and crazy without a second thought. A rushed script here leads easily to a rushed movie with glaring problems, even more so then the leading character.

Ralph Nelson, the director of this film, took the wrong approach here trying to have Charly change so drastically at such a fast pace. The transformation in itself is shocking enough. There is no need to further try and make the lead character undergo this rapid change because it takes away from the substance of the film and ultimately the rest of the film with it. The entire film rests on this one leading character and the director certainly displayed that challenge here, unfortunately it was not displayed in the way that it should have been.

I would not recommend this film especially if you read the book because it is filled with just to many contradictions throughout and faces its own themes in a overly simplistic way and method. The film fails miserably in trying to describe such a complex problem effectively and certainly doesn't give any answers in a precise or convincing manner. Sadly this film becomes a parody of itself.

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