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Sunday Cinema: Charly (1968)

One of my all-time favorite shorter stories is “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes. They made it into a film called Charly in 1968 starring Cliff Robertson and Claire Bloom. From wikipedia:

Charly…tells the fictional story of a mentally challenged bakery worker who is the subject of an experiment to increase human intelligence.

Here’s the film in a convenient YouTube Playlist (plays all parts)…

[via Divers and Sundry]

About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

2 Comments on Sunday Cinema: Charly (1968)

  1. Mikal Trimm // November 7, 2010 at 10:11 pm //

    Cliff Robertson either got the Oscar (or, more likely, was nominated for the Oscar) for this movie.  Silly me, but I think it’s a respectful treatment of the story (especially for the times), and deserves a little more than a YouTube viewing…

    Says neo-Luddite…

  2. Wes Brummer // January 16, 2011 at 9:50 pm //

    I would agree. “Flowers for Algernon” was a great story and one of my favorites also. I first read it in Asimov’s The Hugo Winners, one of those 4 free books you get when you join the SF Book Club. I also have the version of the novel. But it does not have the punch of the short story.

    The movie is very well done. It handles the subject repsectfully and with some insight.  Considering the fact that moviegoers today need over the top CGI and mind-numbing sound, the movie Charley tells a compelling, completely human sf story with few visual tricks. It tells the story of a mentally challenged man named Charley Gorden. Thanks to an experiment in intelligence he rises from retardation to super-intelligence. But a fault in the experiment causes his intelligence to fail. Not only will he become mentally challenged again, but he will most likely die. He is doomed and he knows it. He only has a limited amount of  time to do something with his gift. This, then, is a story of a men’s rise, fall, and his search for redemption, not only for himself, but for others mentally challenged.

    Although the movie did not put a word to it, it is very much about how we stigmatize people we deem not normal. How often did we see a “retarded” person or a Wheelchair” person or a blind person, and not just a person?

    One of the most touching sceens of the movie  takes place in a restaurant where Charley and his mentor (Claire Bloom) are having dinner. A slow learner busboy becomes confused and drops a bus tub full of dishes and silverware. The young man is laughed at by the customers. But Charley quietly helps the boy put the things back in the bus tub. I wonder if ABC did a “What Would You Do” segment based on the sceen, how would people react?

    I have not seen this movie in years. TCM or AMC really should show it more often. I might have to join Netflix just to see it again.

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