Year: 1968

Production: Selmur and Robertson Associates

Director: Ralph Nelson

Starring: Cliff Robertson, Claire Bloom, Lilia Skala, Dick van Patten

Screenwriter: Stirling Silliphant

Based on Flowers for Algernon (1966) by Daniel Keyes

106 minutes; Color

Enthused with the idea of playing a character who goes from subnormality to super-genius and then back again, Cliff Robertson formed his own production company and, after the setbacks, made Charly and won an Academy Award for his excellent performance. Much of the pathos of the original is evoked in 30-year-old Charly's progression, after experimental surgery, from amiable idiocy to high intelligence, his falling in love with his teacher (Bloom), his further development to genius, and the horror of his final regression. But it is a sentimental story to start with, and Nelson milks it for all it is worth, both happiness (glamorized like a tv commercial) and sadness, and Charly's genius phase is severely marred by the platitudes about society that Silliphant's script requires him to speak. Nonetheless, Charly seriously addresses ideas about intelligence and feeling, and is more ambitious than most sf films of its time.

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

Related links:
Classic Science Fiction Reviews at

Back to the List