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The Snake Pit (1948)

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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:

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

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

Celia Sommerville: And we're so crowded already. I just don't know where it's all gonna end!
Virginia Stuart Cunningham: I'll tell you where it's gonna end, Miss Somerville... When there are more sick ones than well ones, the sick ones will lock the well ones up.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Overture
(1842) (uncredited)
from "Tannhäuser"
Composed by Richard Wagner
Played at a concert
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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