63 user 29 critic

The Snake Pit (1948)

Approved | | Drama, Mystery | 13 November 1948 (USA)
2:22 | Trailer

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



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



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


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


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


Drama | Mystery


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

13 November 1948 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die Schlangengrube  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In his autobiography, writer Arthur Laurents said that he had been hired by director Anatole Litvak to rewrite the first draft of the screenplay by Frank Partos and Millen Brand, which he did. Partos and Brand wanted the WGA to rule that they were the only writers and to delete Laurents' credit, so they submitted the script to an arbitration and presented carbon copies of Laurents' work as their own. The WGA removed Laurents' credit, even though several years later Brand admitted to Laurents that he and Partos had created forged carbons to make Laurents' work look like theirs. See more »


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 »


Robert Cunningham: Tell me what have you been doing all these months?
Virginia Stuart Cunningham: Working 18 hours a day and being lonely 24.
See more »


Referenced in Dancing in the Dark (1949) See more »


I Can't Begin to Tell You
(1945) (uncredited)
Music by James V. Monaco
Played by the band at the dance
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Landmark Film
14 March 2003 | by (Cleveland, Ohio) – See all my reviews

Groundbreaking 1948 production on mental illness and its treatment in state institutions, "The Snake Pit" maintains interest today.

Thanks to the lively direction of Anatole Litvak, good scripting, and the enormous talent of Olivia deHavilland as Virginia, this film makes an impressive statement.

Mark Stevens is always a dependable leading man, and Leo Genn a welcome addition to any dramatic scenario.

While the success of state-run institutions of the past were a decidedly mixed bag, today's situation is no improvement. It certainly pays to take charge of one's self, life a healthy lifestyle, and laugh a lot!

18 of 22 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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