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1 review

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Movie Details

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Directed By
Ralph Nelson

Written By:
Stirling Silliphant

Cliff Robertson, Claire Bloom, Lilia Skala, Dick Van Patten, Leon Janney, William Dwyer

Buy on DVD
Charly (1968)
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Movie Review by Derringer
January 19th, 2009


By all physical appearances, when one first encounters Charly Gordon they see that he is just a regular man of, say, 30 years of age. By eveyday standards, Charly is of decent looks. He is strong, but always gentle in his overall nature.

It's not until one speaks directly to this kindly, rather timid, young man that they recognize his particular disability. It's unmistakable.

You see, Charly Gordon is mentally retarded. Charly may have the physical appearance of a 30 year-old man, but inside his mind he only possesses the mental capacity of a mere 10 year old boy.

As a child, Charly's mental deficiency was simply considered, by the grown-ups (parents/teachers/etc.), to be just 'slow learning'. It wasn't until he was reaching puberty that his retardation became apparent. Even though his body continued to grow and mature, his mind did not.

That's when it was decided that Charly needed professional help. And so his parents, on the advice of the family doctor, had Charly institutionalized. He was too much of a burden at home for his family to carry.

In recent years Charly's caseworker, Alice Kinian, has helped this lonely, mentally challenged, young man greatly. At present she has managed to secure for Charly some steady employment as a Janitor's Helper at The Institute of Neurology in NYC. This job, as menial as it is, has helped to boost Charly's self-esteem significantly.

At The Institute, where Charly pushes a broom all day long, fascinating experimentation in the field of Intelligence Acceleration is being carried out by Neurosurgeon - Dr. Richard Nemeir. Dr. Nemeir has perfected a revoluntionary form of brain surgery that has shown impressively successful results when performed on brain damaged lab animals.

Naturally, the next step for Dr. Nemeir and his Reserch Team is to find themselves a ready, willing, and able human guinea pig. And, here's where the retarded Charly Gordon comes into the picture in this intriguing, semi-documentary style, Sci-Fi flick.

Once Charly recovers from the initial side effects of the brain surgery, it takes almost no time for his intelligence to catch up with his age. Then, without missing a beat, Charly's intelligence actually surpasses the sheer brilliance of Neurosurgeon, Dr. Nemeir.

Of course, being the viewer of all this, one can quickly see where this is all heading.

Very much alone now, Charly, the ultimate genius of all genius, can no longer relate to anyone. He is, literally, hovering on the brink of madness. He has quickly come to the point of despising everything that his super-intelligence has revealed to him about the world and the ways of Man. Charly can see no hope for the future survival of our species. The Human Being is ultimately, absolutely doomed to its own extinction.

Fortunately, for Charly's continued existence, and sanity, the effects of the brain surgery are not lasting. Charly's intelligence soon plummets like a falling meteor. And, in the wink of an eye, (Was it all just a dream?) Charly's retardation returns to what it was. This serves to be his only refuge from the mad, frightening world that was so recently unfolded before him. Charly is now completely oblivious to the brilliant revelations that just yesterday existed within his own mind.

Now - Only the simplest dreams -The dreams of a retarded mind fill Charly's head as he slowly pushes on the broom, down the long, empty corridor of the dimly lit Institute.

CHARLY is a very moving, and thought-provoking motion picture.

CLIFF ROBERTSON won an Oscar for Best Actor in 1968 for his portrayal of Charly Gordon.

CHARLY was adapted for the screen from DANIEL KEYES' novel - 'FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON'.

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