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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

Anatole Litvak scheduled the hospital scenes first in the shooting schedule, then gave Olivia de Havilland a month-long break before filming the flashbacks. For the hospital scenes, he gave orders that none of the actresses playing patients were to wear brassieres or girdles. He also forbade them to go to the hairdressing department. To make her character look suitably ill, de Havilland went on a diet designed to take her below her ideal weight. 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 ...
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Connections

Referenced in All About Eve (1950) See more »

Soundtracks

Goin' Home
(1922) (uncredited)
Music by Antonín Dvorák
from Second Movement (Largo) in Symphony No. 9 in E Minor "From the New World", Op. 95, B. 178 (1893)
Lyrics by William Arms Fisher (1922)
Sung by Jan Clayton and also played at the end
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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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!


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