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The Snake Pit (1948)

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

Director:

Anatole Litvak

Writers:

Frank Partos (screen play), Millen Brand (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:
Olivia de Havilland ... Virginia Stuart Cunningham
Mark Stevens ... Robert Cunningham
Leo Genn ... Dr. Mark Kik
Celeste Holm ... Grace
Glenn Langan ... Dr. Terry
Helen Craig Helen Craig ... Nurse Davis
Leif Erickson ... Gordon
Beulah Bondi ... Mrs. Greer
Lee Patrick ... Asylum Inmate
Howard Freeman ... Dr. Curtis
Natalie Schafer ... Mrs. Stuart
Ruth Donnelly ... Ruth
Katherine Locke Katherine Locke ... Margaret
Frank Conroy ... Dr. Jonathan Gifford
Minna Gombell ... 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

13 November 1948 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Die Schlangengrube See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$10,000,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although Fox's ads for the film linked it to Gentleman's Agreement (1947) as a pioneering social problem film, posters also tried to created a romantic angle with the line "Married and in Love...with a Man She Didn't Know or Want!" 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

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 »

Connections

Referenced in M*A*S*H: Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen (1983) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

 
Olivia De Havilland: actress extraordinaire!
4 March 2007 | by dbdumonteilSee all my reviews

Anatole Litvak 's interest in madness didn't begin with "the snake pit" In one of his thirties French movies,"Coeur de Lilas" ,one sequence depicted a person gone crazy and it was already impressive.

Some will say times have changed and the hospital which Litvak depicts is a thing of the past.Sure it is.But what could he have done?Just have a look at the scenes in an insane asylum in Mankiewicz ' s "Suddenly last Summer"(1959) or those in Georges Franju's "La Tete Contre les Murs"(1960)?A decade later ,mentally ill people were still regarded as monsters.That scene in "Suddenly..." where Elizabeth Taylor accidentally ends up with the raving mad women and which is not in the original Tennessee Williams' play was certainly influenced by "the snake pit" .Some will say the Freudian methods are childish and simplistic .They are for sure.But have a look at Gregory Peck's treatment in "Spellbound" (1945) or De Havilland's in "Dark Mirror" (1946).And I love all those movies I mention.60 years on.Think of it.People will not argue when they watch a school or a prison of long ago.That's why I do not understand the "It has not worn well" which too many critics (mostly European) use when they talk about Litvak's 1948 film.

One thing which has worn well is De Havilland's performance.After being Erroll Flynn's fiancée in (excellent) movies by Walsh or Curtiz ,she tackled much more ambitious parts after the war.She was never afraid to make herself ugly

or old ("the heiress" "hold back the dawn"),she and her peer Bette Davis were actresses ahead of their time ,not just pretty faces as too many contemporary actresses are today.It's no wonder if Davis named Meryl Streep "her successor" .

In "snake pit" De Havilland's acting should be studied by future actresses .She can express everything ,and the moments when she becomes a human wreck down in a "snake pit" (the snakes might be all those arms and hands)are the most impressive.


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