Cliff Robertson found himself cast as heroic types after he played the young John F Kennedy in PT 109 (1963), but the most rewarding role of his career came with this Oscar-winning portrayal of a mentally disabled bakery worker whose life is transformed by radical brain surgery, which so far has only been tried on laboratory mice.
Though his intellect develops rapidly, so do his overpowering sexual feelings for his night-school teacher, leading to a tragic aftermath.
The scenes between Robertson and Claire Bloom are touching, and Algernon the mouse is unforgettable, so director Ralph Nelson can be forgiven for playing down some of the fascinating possibilities raised by Stirling Silliphant’s shrewd script.
The film may feel a little twee in this more cynical age, but it remains an unassuming charmer.
Dr Anna Straus
Dick Van Patten
Dr Richard Nemur