Cliff Robertson won his only Oscar from his only nomination for playing Charly Gordon a mentally retarded man whose life changes when he undergoes a radical experiment.
Robertson plays Charly through all his phases well. When he is the unintelligent Charly Robertson never overdoes his character's disability and mostly comes off as authentic. I do not find this to be great acting but instead he does just a fine job. I never saw him truly as a man like that but he came very close. I am just simply not that impressed by the actor playing this type of role anyways, although Robertson does it better than many. The far greater part of his performance comes from when he undergoes the experiment. Robertson shows the subtle changes of his intelligence very well. it is not all done instantly but rather slowly done and it works rather well. He slowly becomes the more intelligent man and Robertson perfectly shows the frustrations from his new senses and urges. Robertson never seems unrealistic despite the procedure being so. The best part of his performance is when he becomes the ultra intelligent man. He is great in these scenes. He does not act like a brainiac but rather a man who knows more than he really wants to know. The scene with the scientist conference works very well because of the brilliant way Robertson handles the scenes. He seems perfectly dreaded by his knowledge and that works very well. Then at the end when he sees he may lose his intelligence Robertson is brilliant. His fear and frustrations that he will return to his old self are incredibly effective. A very good performance mostly due to the second half of it. The first half pushes his rating down a little but Robertson is great. For this Robertson gets: