Charly

RALPH NELSON

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.  USA, 1968.  , , .  Screenplay by , based on the novel Flowers For Algernon by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .   Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Academy Awards 1968.  Golden Globe Awards 1968.

Cliff Robertson in Charly. Robertson won the Oscar for Best Actor of 1968.

plays a mentally challenged adult who makes a living pushing a broom in a bakery, his co-workers constantly playing mean tricks on him, while his free time is spent at a laboratory where his therapist () attempts to improve his life skills.  Charly is having a tough time learning basic reading and writing comprehension, but things look up when he proves to be the right candidate for an experimental brain operation being tested out by two ambitious scientists ( and an excellent ).  The procedure turns out to be a success, quickly improving his mental capacity and turning him from a happy idiot into a miserable genius, putting him in Bloom’s bed but also causing him stress when he observes from the laboratory mice who preceded him into the operating room that the effects of the miracle are not permanent.  What is particularly disappointing about this gentle foray into science-fiction, for which Robertson predictably won an Academy Award for a passable performance in a typical Oscar-bait role, is that the man’s realizations about the world’s cruelty should be the focus of the third act, but this possibility is ignored.  Instead, director Ralph Nelson turns the volume up on some now very dated film techniques, like split-screen and picture-in-picture effects that take the place of dramatic investigation and really make something campy out of a film that should be poignant and sweet.  Later remade for television with Matthew Modine, and unofficially reworked as a project for Elisabeth Shue as Molly.

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