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The Snake Pit (1948)

Approved  |   |  Drama  |  13 November 1948 (USA)
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 4,279 users  
Reviews: 62 user | 28 critic

A detailed chronicle of a woman during her stay in a mental institution.

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(screen play), (screen play), 2 more credits »
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Title: The Snake Pit (1948)

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 10 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Mark Stevens ...
...
Dr. Mark Kik
...
Grace
Glenn Langan ...
Dr. Terry
Helen Craig ...
Nurse Davis
...
Gordon
...
Mrs. Greer
Lee Patrick ...
Asylum Inmate
...
Dr. Curtis
...
Mrs. Stuart
Ruth Donnelly ...
Ruth
Katherine Locke ...
Margaret
Frank Conroy ...
Dr. Jonathan Gifford
Minna Gombell ...
Miss Hart
Edit

Storyline

Virginia Cunningham finds herself in a state insane asylum...and can't remember how she got there. In flashback, her husband Robert relates their courtship, marriage, and her developing symptoms. The asylum staff are not demonized, but fear, ignorance and regimentation keep Virginia in a state of misery, as pipesmoking Dr. Mark Kik struggles through wheels within wheels to find the root of her problem. Then a relapse plunges Virginia back into the harrowing 'Snake Pit'... Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Married and in Love . . . with a Man She Didn't Know or Want!

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

13 November 1948 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die Schlangengrube  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Stephen King has said that watching this film on TV as a child deeply disturbed him and made him feel that he could suddenly go insane, directly contributing to his macabre interests and subsequently his writings. See more »

Goofs

After the young Virginia smashes the head of the soldier doll (that reminds her of her father)into several pieces, she is later seen carrying the unbroken doll on the night of her father's death. The intact doll again appears in the apartment that she lives in as an adult. See more »

Quotes

Virginia Stuart Cunningham: [sighs] It's funny.
Doctor Mark Kik: What is it?
Virginia Stuart Cunningham: Everything you've said seems to make sense. I feel as though I know it,
[places hand on her heart]
Virginia Stuart Cunningham: here...
Doctor Mark Kik: But you don't quite understand it all, here?
[points, with his pipe, to his head]
Doctor Mark Kik: Don't worry, it doesn't matter. You may never know *why* everything happened, but now you do know *how* and *where* it started, and that *does* matter. Look, it's as though you were in a dark room, like this one...
[turns off light switch]
Doctor Mark Kik: ... now. And you wanted to turn on the ...
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Big Time Operators (1957) See more »

Soundtracks

Overture
(1842) (uncredited)
from "Tannhäuser"
Composed by Richard Wagner
Played at a concert
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Olivia De Havilland: actress extraordinaire!
4 March 2007 | by See all my reviews

Anatole Litvak 's interest in madness didn't begin with "the snake pit" In one of his thirties French movies,"Coeur de Lilas" ,one sequence depicted a person gone crazy and it was already impressive.

Some will say times have changed and the hospital which Litvak depicts is a thing of the past.Sure it is.But what could he have done?Just have a look at the scenes in an insane asylum in Mankiewicz ' s "Suddenly last Summer"(1959) or those in Georges Franju's "La Tete Contre les Murs"(1960)?A decade later ,mentally ill people were still regarded as monsters.That scene in "Suddenly..." where Elizabeth Taylor accidentally ends up with the raving mad women and which is not in the original Tennessee Williams' play was certainly influenced by "the snake pit" .Some will say the Freudian methods are childish and simplistic .They are for sure.But have a look at Gregory Peck's treatment in "Spellbound" (1945) or De Havilland's in "Dark Mirror" (1946).And I love all those movies I mention.60 years on.Think of it.People will not argue when they watch a school or a prison of long ago.That's why I do not understand the "It has not worn well" which too many critics (mostly European) use when they talk about Litvak's 1948 film.

One thing which has worn well is De Havilland's performance.After being Erroll Flynn's fiancée in (excellent) movies by Walsh or Curtiz ,she tackled much more ambitious parts after the war.She was never afraid to make herself ugly

or old ("the heiress" "hold back the dawn"),she and her peer Bette Davis were actresses ahead of their time ,not just pretty faces as too many contemporary actresses are today.It's no wonder if Davis named Meryl Streep "her successor" .

In "snake pit" De Havilland's acting should be studied by future actresses .She can express everything ,and the moments when she becomes a human wreck down in a "snake pit" (the snakes might be all those arms and hands)are the most impressive.


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