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The Snake Pit (1948)

 -  Drama  -  13 November 1948 (USA)
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 4,129 users  
Reviews: 62 user | 18 critic

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

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

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 10 wins & 9 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

The title stems from an ancient practice of dealing with the mentally ill where they were thrown into a pit of snakes. The theory was that something like that would make a normal person insane, therefore it must work in reverse. 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 Dancing in the Dark (1949) 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

 
An unusual movie for the times of 1948.
19 March 2001 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"The Snake Pit" is based on a true story written by Mary Jane Ward in the hopes it would bring to the attention of the people, the horrors that a person faced in a mental institution at the time, pre-1948. The character, Virginia, was based on Miss Ward's own experience in a mental hospital. Even though the film was nominated for various Oscars, it only won for the musical score. I think that was probably because at the time mental illness was considered taboo. Olivia deHavilland acted the character of Virginia brilliantly as did everyone else in the film and Betsy Blair in her portrayal of Hester looked like she was completely and totally beyond help. Just look at her eyes. You will see what I mean. To this very day, I think it is the most haunting and most accurate of all films that have been released on the treatment of emotional disorders. I think all characters were portrayed as Mary Jane Ward wanted them to be portrayed, as I studied her book and watched the film while in high school in the early 1960's. Great book and a great film not afraid to show the abuse by certain medical personnel.


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