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
The master of ceremonies at the doctor's conference is director Ralph Nelson. See more »
When Charly and the other employees leave the bakery for a beer, Ed McNally, playing Gimpy, has completely lost his limp and is walking normally. See more »
[upset about getting fired from his job]
Yeah, I was wonder why people that would never dream of laughing at a blind or a crippled man would laugh at a moron.
My friends at the bakery got up a petition and then I got fired.
Is that an automatic law, something like gravity? Increased intelligence equals lost friends?
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A mentally challenged man named Charly (Cliff Robertson) desires to become smarter so that he wouldn't always be picked on by his so-called friends at his workplace. However, he has made no progress despite his efforts of going to school. One day he gets a chance to undergo some experimental brain surgery and his intelligence skyrockets, making him a genius. Still, he cannot stop feeling like an outsider or find happiness with Alice, the woman he loves (Claire Bloom).
The director uses many split screens and other alienating techniques to portray the fragile mental state of Charly; at points they get rather annoying and look dated. The montage near the end, depicting the progression of Charly and Alice's relationship, comes across as rather hasty, considering the scene directly preceding it. Mostly the story advances fine though, and the pondering about the surgery's effects on Charly's psyche is interesting – there should have been more of it, actually. Robertson's Oscar-winning performance in the lead role is decent, although I preferred his calm 'intelligent Charly' to his naïve 'challenged Charly'.
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