7.6/10
6,783
75 user 43 critic

The Snake Pit (1948)

Not Rated | | Drama, Mystery | 13 November 1948 (USA)
Trailer
2:23 | Trailer
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 ... 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, their marriage, and her developing symptoms. The asylum staff are not demonized, but fear, ignorance, and regimentation keep Virginia in a state of misery as pipe-smoking 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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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ginger Rogers wrote that she turned down the lead in this film, as well as To Each His Own (1946), both of which Olivia de Havilland accepted. Olivia won an Oscar for "To Each His Own" and was nominated for this film. Rogers wrote: "It seemed Olivia knew a good thing when she saw it. Perhaps Olivia should thank me for such poor judgment." 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. However, Virginia most likely received a new doll of the same kind when her father discovered the other one was no longer intact. 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 down.
Mrs. Greer: I ...
[...]
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Connections

Referenced in Melrose Place: Postmortem Madness (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

Sweet Georgia Brown
(1925) (uncredited)
Music by Maceo Pinkard and Ben Bernie
Lyrics by Kenneth Casey
Sung a cappella and danced by Bee Humphries in the recreation area
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User Reviews

 
Breakdown
22 August 2005 | by jotix100See all my reviews

Hollywood in the forties was not exactly ready to deal with subjects such as the one depicted in "The Snake Pit". It must have taken a lot of courage to get this project started since it dealt with a serious problem of mental illness, something not mentioned in good company, let alone in a film that took the viewer into the despair the protagonist is experiencing.

Anatole Litvak, the director, got a tremendous performance from its star Olivia de Havilland. If there was anyone to portrait Virginia Stuart Cunningham, Ms. de Havilland was the right choice for it. The actress is the main reason for watching the movie, even after all these years.

The director was responsible for the realistic way in which this drama plays on screen. The scenes in the asylum are heart wrenching, especially the electro shock treatments Virginia undergoes. At the end, the kind Dr. Kik discovers a deeply rooted problem in Virginia's mind that was the cause for what she was experiencing.

Leo Genn is the other notable presence in the film playing Dr. Kik. He makes the best out of his role and plays well against the sickly woman he has taken an interest in helping. Mark Stevens is seen as Virginia's husband, the man that stood by his wife all the time. In smaller roles we see Lee Patrick, Natalie Schafer, Leif Erickson and Celeste Holm, and Betsy Blair.

"The Snake Pit" is a document about mental illness treated with frankness by Anatole Litvak and his team.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German | Russian

Release Date:

13 November 1948 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Snake Pit See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$10,000,000
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Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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