7.7/10
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The Snake Pit (1948)

Approved | | Drama, Mystery | 13 November 1948 (USA)
A detailed chronicle of a woman during her stay in a mental institution.

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Writers:

(screen play), (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 9 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Dr. Mark Kik
...
Grace
...
Dr. Terry
Helen Craig ...
Nurse Davis
...
Gordon
...
Mrs. Greer
...
Asylum Inmate
...
Dr. Curtis
...
Mrs. Stuart
...
Ruth
Katherine Locke ...
Margaret
Frank Conroy ...
Dr. Jonathan Gifford
...
Miss Hart
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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 | Mystery

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
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The British censor insisted on a foreword explaining that everyone in the film was an actor and that conditions in British mental hospitals were unlike those depicted. 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

Celia Sommerville: And we're so crowded already. I just don't know where it's all gonna end!
Virginia Stuart Cunningham: I'll tell you where it's gonna end, Miss Somerville... When there are more sick ones than well ones, the sick ones will lock the well ones up.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in God's Not Dead (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Breakdown
22 August 2005 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

Hollywood in the forties was not exactly ready to deal with subjects such as the one depicted in "The Snake Pit". It must have taken a lot of courage to get this project started since it dealt with a serious problem of mental illness, something not mentioned in good company, let alone in a film that took the viewer into the despair the protagonist is experiencing.

Anatole Litvak, the director, got a tremendous performance from its star Olivia de Havilland. If there was anyone to portrait Virginia Stuart Cunningham, Ms. de Havilland was the right choice for it. The actress is the main reason for watching the movie, even after all these years.

The director was responsible for the realistic way in which this drama plays on screen. The scenes in the asylum are heart wrenching, especially the electro shock treatments Virginia undergoes. At the end, the kind Dr. Kik discovers a deeply rooted problem in Virginia's mind that was the cause for what she was experiencing.

Leo Genn is the other notable presence in the film playing Dr. Kik. He makes the best out of his role and plays well against the sickly woman he has taken an interest in helping. Mark Stevens is seen as Virginia's husband, the man that stood by his wife all the time. In smaller roles we see Lee Patrick, Natalie Schafer, Leif Erickson and Celeste Holm, and Betsy Blair.

"The Snake Pit" is a document about mental illness treated with frankness by Anatole Litvak and his team.


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