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 <email@example.com>
The title stems from an ancient practice of dealing with the mentally ill where they were thrown into a pit of snakes. The theory was that something like that would make a normal person insane, therefore it must work in reverse. 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 »
Considered brutal and scary in the day of its initial release, "The Snake Pit" was a ground-breaking film with its look into the horrors of a mental institution. Giving the film its vibrancy and life is the elegant Olivia De Havilland. This fine actress goes to town in this fascinating portrait of a young woman, Virginia Stuart, who, soon after marriage to the handsome Robert Cunningham (Mark Stevens) , descends into a world of paranoia and insanity. He takes her to an institution, but conditions there are foreign to Virginia. This Hollywoodization of life in a mental hospital, though tame compared to reality, still packs a punch. We follow this delusional woman as she tries to come to grips with where she is, falls in love with her kind-hearted doctor, Mark Kirk (Leo Genn), befriends other patients, and tries to hide out in the hospital. Celeste Holm has a minor, but welcome role as Grace, a fellow patient who takes a liking to and protects the confused Virginia.
What a score for the lovely De Havilland! She really gets to show her stuff in this emotional role, and got an Oscar-nomination for her efforts. And kudos to director Anatole Litvak for a wonderful, but hard-to-take visit into a woman's not-all-there mind and her institutionalized world.
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