The Snake Pit (1948)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Mystery  |  13 November 1948 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.7/10 from 4,621 users  
Reviews: 63 user | 28 critic

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



(screen play), (screen play), 2 more credits »
Watch Trailer
0Check in

On Disc

at Amazon

Won 1 Oscar. Another 9 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

The Heiress (1949)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A young naive woman falls for a handsome young man who her emotionally abusive father suspects is a fortune hunter.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Olivia de Havilland, Montgomery Clift, Ralph Richardson
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

An unwed mother, forced to give up her child to avoid scandal, follows her son's life from afar even as she prospers in business.

Director: Mitchell Leisen
Stars: Olivia de Havilland, John Lund, Mary Anderson
Drama | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Whilst on the telephone, an invalid woman overhears what she thinks is a murder plot and attempts to prevent it.

Director: Anatole Litvak
Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Burt Lancaster, Ann Richards
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A man is found murdered, with witnesses convinced about the woman they saw leaving his apartment. However, it becomes apparent that the woman has a twin, and finding out which one is the killer seems impossible.

Director: Robert Siodmak
Stars: Olivia de Havilland, Lew Ayres, Thomas Mitchell
Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A doctor treats a woman suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder.

Director: Nunnally Johnson
Stars: Joanne Woodward, David Wayne, Lee J. Cobb
Drama | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

When a lovely wife and her new husband, settle in an ancient mansion on the East coast, she discovers he may want to kill her.

Director: Fritz Lang
Stars: Joan Bennett, Michael Redgrave, Anne Revere
Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

In post-war Cape Breton, a doctor's efforts to tutor a deaf/mute woman are undermined when she is raped, and the resulting pregnancy causes scandal to swirl.

Director: Jean Negulesco
Stars: Jane Wyman, Lew Ayres, Charles Bickford
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

An aging, reclusive southern belle, plagued by a horrifying family secret, descends into madness after the arrival of a lost relative.

Director: Robert Aldrich
Stars: Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, Joseph Cotten
Stella Dallas (1937)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A low-class woman is willing to do whatever it takes to give her daughter a socially promising future.

Director: King Vidor
Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, John Boles, Anne Shirley
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A hard-working mother inches towards disaster as she divorces her husband and starts a successful restaurant business to support her spoiled daughter.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Joan Crawford, Jack Carson, Zachary Scott
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

When lovely and virtuous governess Henriette Deluzy comes to educate the children of the debonair Duc de Praslin, a royal subject to King Louis-Philippe and the husband of the volatile and ... See full summary »

Director: Anatole Litvak
Stars: Bette Davis, Charles Boyer, Jeffrey Lynn
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A letter is addressed to three wives from their "best friend" Addie Ross, announcing that she is running away with one of their husbands: but she does not say which one.

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Stars: Jeanne Crain, Linda Darnell, Ann Sothern


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

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 »


Mrs. Greer: Good afternoon, my dear. I don't think I've had the pleasure of seeing you here before.
Virginia Stuart Cunningham: I'm Virginia Cunningham. I came from Five.
Mrs. Greer: Nobody comes to One from Five. Even I had to spend a few days in Two before coming here. And I, my dear, have money.
Virginia Stuart Cunningham: That must be convenient.
Mrs. Greer: My husband, Mr. Greer, is very wealthy. I have more jewels than I can possibly wear. You, of course, are a charity patient?
Virginia Stuart Cunningham: Oh, no. It so happens that my husband, Mr. Cunningham, is very wealthy. My diamonds simply weigh me ...
See more »


Referenced in Backstory: Gentleman's Agreement (2001) See more »


Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68, 4th movement
(1876) (uncredited)
Music by Johannes Brahms
Played at a concert
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

As groundbreaking as One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
6 July 2005 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

The Snake Pit opened to deservedly rave reviews about the subject matter and Olivia DeHavilland's performance. She lost that year in the Oscar Sweepstakes to Jane Wyman's Johnny Belinda. That performance by Wyman was also groundbreaking and probably that and the fact that DeHavilland had won the year before for To Each His Own prevented her from copping the big prize that year. She did get the New York Film Critic's Award for The Snake Pit though.

Seeing her in the Snake Pit and the accolades she got must have been of great satisfaction to Olivia DeHavilland because of the fights she had to get roles other than a crinoline heroine.

In 1948 seeing stuff like electroshock was a real dose of reality to the movie going public. Today it's not used as much, back then it was new and considered a panacea for all that ails you.

I'm surprised that more reviewers haven't compared The Snake Pit to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Both were ground breaking films for their time and Jack Nicholson got his first Oscar for that. I guess the crazy act is always noticed by the Academy.

Leo Genn as Doctor "Kick" had one of the great speaking voices in the world. Besides DeHavilland, he's the best one in this. I can never tire of listening to him.

56 years later this film will still grab you and hold your attention.

40 of 46 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Whether the song fit or did not... Felonious-Punk
why was Olivia robbed? darlakarla
Soldier Doll - Goof Blondfashionisto
'Goin' Home'-Trivia glmather1
Kristen Wiig cojacobson
Words to song "Going Home" lady_stogie
Discuss The Snake Pit (1948) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: