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The Snake Pit (1948)

Not Rated | | 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 »
Reviews
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:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German | Russian

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

The film was held back from distribution in England for a year because the British Board of Film Censors forbade films dealing with insanity. Initially, efforts to soften that stand were fought by nursing organizations, who feared the film would discourage young women from going into that profession. Finally, Fox cut the most extreme scenes of Olivia de Havilland's treatment to get past the censors. They also included a written prologue explaining that all of the cast were actors and that the film did not reflect conditions in British mental hospitals. The film then won rave reviews in England and broke box office records. 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

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 »

Connections

Referenced in Dancing in the Dark (1949) 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

 
An unusual movie for the times of 1948.
19 March 2001 | by julianhwescottSee all my reviews

"The Snake Pit" is based on a true story written by Mary Jane Ward in the hopes it would bring to the attention of the people, the horrors that a person faced in a mental institution at the time, pre-1948. The character, Virginia, was based on Miss Ward's own experience in a mental hospital. Even though the film was nominated for various Oscars, it only won for the musical score. I think that was probably because at the time mental illness was considered taboo. Olivia deHavilland acted the character of Virginia brilliantly as did everyone else in the film and Betsy Blair in her portrayal of Hester looked like she was completely and totally beyond help. Just look at her eyes. You will see what I mean. To this very day, I think it is the most haunting and most accurate of all films that have been released on the treatment of emotional disorders. I think all characters were portrayed as Mary Jane Ward wanted them to be portrayed, as I studied her book and watched the film while in high school in the early 1960's. Great book and a great film not afraid to show the abuse by certain medical personnel.


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