Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Charly (1968)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Charly (1968)

In director Ralph Nelson's soap-opera-ish adaptation of Daniel Keyes' Flowers for Algernon, a sci-fi drama:

  • the transformation of 30 year old bakery worker Charly Gordon (Best Actor winning Cliff Robertson) with an IQ of 59 into a supergenius via a science experiment and radical brain surgery, although at first, Charly worried about his lack of progress: ("Did that operation make me dumber?")
  • the scenes in which Charly repeatedly competed in maze races and lost to laboratory mouse Algernon: ("He beat me. I didn't know mice are so smart...How would you feel if you was dumber than a mouse?...I ain't racing that Algernon no more. I'm sick of being beaten by a mouse, and people laughing at me"), but then finally his ecstatic joy when he beat laboratory mouse Algernon: ("I beat him, I creamed him")
  • Charly's disproportionate, stunted emotional growth ("Emotionally, he's still a child, frightened, insecure") compared to his intellectual development and advancement over his own special-ed teacher Alice Kinnian (Claire Bloom): ("Student surpasses the teacher"), demonstrated by his punctuation of the phrase: ("That, that is, is. That, that is not, is not. Is that it? It is")
  • his primitively-displayed nude abstract drawings of Alice, and Charly's seduction and sexual-rape assault of her, when she fought back, slapped him, and insulted him: ("You think anyone would ever want you? You stupid moron!")
  • the long montage sequence in which Alice eventually fell in love with a transformed Charly ("I'm back"), slept with him in a shared sleeping bag in the outdoors, and ran and romped through the trees with him, when he proposed marriage in voice-over: (Charly: "Marry me, Alice." Alice: "Charly, I could never keep up with you, and I don't want to hold you back. And I don't want to be left behind." Charly: "Einstein had a wife..."), and their child-like playfulness on a children's playground
Alice's Love Affair with Transformed Charly
  • the convention scene in which Charly was shown off to an audience as an advancement in science, as he - in counter-point - explained what he saw about the promise of the future in various areas, including modern science, modern art, foreign policy, today's youth, today's religion, the standard of living, education, the world's future, and the coming generation: ("Rampant technology, conscience by computer... Dispassionate draftsmen...Brave new weapons...Joyless, guideless....Preachment by popularity polls.... A TV in every room...A TV in every room... Brave new hates, brave new bombs, brave new wars.... Test-tube conception, laboratory birth, TV education, brave new dreams, brave new hates, brave new wars; a beautifully purposeless process of society suicide. (Silence) Any more questions?")
  • Charly's sorrowful announcement to the audience that he knew his newfound intelligence and the success of his operation was only temporary and was beginning to reverse itself, and he would be regressing: ("Algernon showed me. The answer to the question, 'Charly Gordon' is: Charly Gordon is a fellow who will very shortly be what he used to be") - and then held out in the palm of his hand the lifeless body of Algernon, fearing the same thing would happen to him (he was soon haunted by appearances of his former pre-operative self)
  • his subdued farewell scene to Alice, refusing her request to marry him: ("Marry me. (No response) All right, don't marry me"). He replied: "Motion carried." When she requested remaining with him: ("But I'm gonna stay, right here. Whenever you feel like telling me to go, just tell me so. I'll go, I'll leave"), he simply asked her to leave: ("Leave, please leave")
  • the tearjerking freeze-frame shot of Charly, once again mentally retarded but smiling and care-free, playing with other children on a see-saw

(Cliff Robertson)

Mouse Maze Races

Alice: "You stupid moron!"

Convention Scene

The Lifeless Body of Algernon in Charly's Hand

Farewell Scene with Alice

Freeze-Frame Ending


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