7.0/10
6,281
66 user 39 critic

Charly (1968)

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

Director:

Ralph Nelson

Writers:

Daniel Keyes (novel), Stirling Silliphant (screenplay)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Cliff Robertson ... Charly
Claire Bloom ... Alice
Lilia Skala ... Dr. Straus
Leon Janney ... Dr. Nemur
Ruth White ... Mrs. Apple
Dick Van Patten ... Bert (as Richard Van Patten)
Edward McNally Edward McNally ... Gimpy (as Skipper McNally)
Barney Martin ... Hank
William Dwyer William Dwyer ... Joey
Dan Morgan Dan Morgan ... Paddy
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Storyline

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, and he is the subject of cruel pranks at the bakery where he does minor janitorial work. His teacher, Mrs. Kinnian, enrolls Charly in a clinical study where he is observed by a surgeon and a psychologist who have Charly "race" a mouse named Algernon, solving mazes. Algernon is usually the winner, thanks to an experiment involving brain proteins that greatly raised his intelligence. The experiment proceeds with surgery on Charly, who at first does not seem affected. However, he quickly becomes more logically advanced, soon becoming a pure genius. Emotional and intra-personal consequences are involved as Charly and his teacher become increasingly attached to one another. But when Charly gradually suspects the consequences of the experiment, he struggles with whether or not the procedure was a good idea. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A love story that begins with an incredible experiment! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

M | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Cliff Robertson's Best Actor Oscar win was this film's only Oscar nomination. See more »

Goofs

There's one scene where Charly's just woken up from his surgery. The next scene shows him working on a puzzle, and he has a full head of hair and no bandages. If he'd just got brain surgery, he should still be wearing bandages, or at least have his head shaved. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Anna Strauss: [after witnessing Charly painting nude women, furiously at Richard] What are you trying to turn him into, some kind of a sideshow freak?
Dr. Richard Nemur: Now, Anna, don't be ridiculous.
Dr. Anna Strauss: You're pushing your program for his intellectual development much too rapidly. It has to keep pace with my program for his emotional development, or the imbalance will become dangerous! I thought we were to be satisfied with a minor miracle...
Dr. Richard Nemur: What are you afraid of?
Dr. Anna Strauss: ...to help a retarded human being become a more productive member ...
[...]
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Crazy Credits

The title appears onscreen as if scrawled by a child, with the "R" backwards. See more »

User Reviews

 
"No One Would Ever Think Of Making Fun Of A Blind Person Or A Cripple, Why Would They Do It To A Moron?"
17 February 2009 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

After having done The Days Of Wine And Roses On the small screen and seeing Jack Lemmon get the part for the big screen, Cliff Robertson pulled a Katharine Hepburn. Like Kate the great who bought the screen rights to The Philadelphia Story and dictated the making of it to MGM, Robertson did the same for Charly which he had done on the US Steel Hour almost a decade earlier on television. He did better than Lemmon who only was nominated for Best Actor for Days Of Wine And Roses.

Charly is the story of an amiable mildly retarded man who works and supports himself in a job at a bakery, but also has agreed to become an experimental subject to scientists, Claire Bloom, Leon Janney, and Lilia Skala. Janney has a theory in which he feels that the proper enzyme given and an operation and Robertson could start to function like a normal person.

The operation has some foreseen and unforeseen consequences. One of them is that Robertson is one fully functioning male, but still lacks a whole lot of social skills. He forms an attachment to Bloom which is something she saw coming, but not necessarily her.

More important he becomes far more aware of the world around him and how badly treated he was by a lot of people. One role I very much liked was that of his landlady Ruth White who was a woman with a big heart who does value Robertson as a person and gives him the respect any of us is due.

Still the film belongs to Cliff Robertson who won an Oscar for Best Actor in 1968. Robertson had some stiff competition that year, but probably was helped by the fact that three of his competitors were British, Alan Bates for The Fixer, Ron Moody for Oliver, and Peter O'Toole for The Lion In Winter who if memory serves was the betting favorite. The other nominee was Alan Arkin for The Heart Is The Lonely Hunter. How he manages to go from a mildly retarded man to a person of no mean erudition is a wonderful process unfolding on the screen. Personally I think it ought to be required viewing in every acting class on the globe, the subtleties are something to behold.

I don't claim to be any kind of scientific expert on this or any other scientific matter, but I would love to hear from those who know more as to whether the whole theory is feasible or not. In any event though Charly is a fine picture with both a message and a heart.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

23 September 1968 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Two Worlds of Charly Gordon See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$15,826,800

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$18,530,000
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color | Black and White (fantasy sequence)

Aspect Ratio:

2:39 : 1
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