Charly (1968)

“You’re not very smart. You’re not even as smart as a mouse. Because he knows. Algernon showed me.” Cliff Robertson won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his powerful performance as “Charly Gordon,” a mentally challenged adult with the mind of a child who undergoes experimental surgery that makes him super-intelligent. Along the way he befriends a laboratory mouse named “Algernon” and falls in love with his teacher “Alice Kinian” (Claire Bloom). Although Alice initially rebuffs Charly’s advances (I love the montage sequence where Charly briefly joins a motorcycle gang and dabbles in the counterculture!), she soon starts to fall in love with him and they share a brief romance. However, things take a disastrous turn when Charly’s intelligence starts to regress, leading to a truly depressing ending. Directed by Ralph Nelson, this haunting science fiction drama was based on the award-winning 1966 novel Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. The cast includes Lilia Skala as “Dr. Anna Straus,” Leon Janney as “Dr. Richard Nemur” and Dick Van Patten as “Bert.” Look for Barney Martin – best known as “Morty Seinfeld” – as “Hank,” one of Charly’s insensitive and abusive coworkers at the bakery.

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