In 1961, Cliff Robertson starred in The Two Worlds of Charley Gordon, a TV adaptation of Daniel Keyes' story Flowers for Algernon. Determined not to lose out on the film version of this play as he'd done with Days of Wine and Roses, Robertson bought up the movie rights to Keyes' story so that he and he alone would star. This determination paid off in the form of the Best Actor Academy Award for Robertson in 1968. The star plays Charly, a 30-year-old mentally retarded bakery worker. Neurosurgeon Dr. Richard Nemur (Leon Janney) and psychiatrist Dr. Anna Straus (Lilia Skala) approach Charly and ask him to participate in an experiment. Previously, Dr. Nemur was able to accelerate the intelligence of a mouse named Algernon by performing a radical new form of brain surgery; could not such a procedure work on a human being? As a result, Charly not only achieves normal intelligence, but also becomes a genius. Emboldened by his new mental status, Charly proposes marriage to his very receptive special-ed teacher (Claire Bloom). Alas, Charly notices that Algernon has begun to regress, and he reasons that he also will return to his old developmentally challenged state.
by Hal Erickson synopsis