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The Snake Pit

The Snake Pit(1948)

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  • Virginia's on the rug...

    • don letta
    • 2/5/18

    Olivia had stiff competition that year... Jane Wyman, Barbara Stanwyck, Ingrid Bergman and Irene Dunne. Each one gave excellent performances, and Jane Wyman won the award for her sensitive portrait of a deaf-mute.My favorite was Irene Dunne, as the wise and loving mama in turn of the century San Francisco.Snake Pit was the most courageous of the lot, taking a subject that was generally ignored, and presenting it with a good deal of authenticity, much like The Miracle Worker, The Men, Sunday, Bloody Sunday, and Philadelphia.Had The Snake Pit been made a year later, Olivia would have won, hands down.

  • Olivia Leads Cast of Fine Actors

    • Tawny
    • 6/26/17

    Olivia de Havilland portrays a normal, struggling writer whose life suddenly goes off the rails after meeting her dream guy. The film was daring for its day, as mental illness was not a subject Hollywood embraced as the stuff dreams are made of. The performances range from good to simply amazing. The supporting players in this film--the asylum patients--offer a fascinating look at fine acting. It is one thing to "act" like an off-balanced person, but it is quite a different thing to BE one. Catch Betsy Blair (the "ugly duckling" from Marty) as Hester. She delivers a knockout performance without ever speaking a word until the very end of the film. Other supporting actors are just as good, portraying various aspects of mental illness in a psychiatric hospital. Olivia delivers a fine performance here, as does Leo Genn (Dr. Kik) and Mark Stevens as her husband. The cruelty of shock treatments, ice baths, straight jackets, drug-induced memory flashbacks, and isolation are frightening. The ultimate explanation for her illness is a bit simplistic, but the all-around fine performances here are noteworthy.

  • Snake Charmer

    • Clichae,H.A.
    • 7/15/16

    An absorbing story to be sure & it helps to be a forlorn beauty of 24 to garner special attention from the handsome doctor!

  • The Snake Pit

    • GypsyPi3000
    • 4/14/13

    This is an excellent movie. Olivia de Havilland is simply amazing. Plus, all the supporting background people. They were amazing too. I felt like I was stuck in the state mental hospital, and it was not a good feeling. But, that's how wonderful everyone was. Maybe it was a bit dated, but that didn't matter with de Havilland. She picked me up and plopped me down right with her in the 1940's.

  • Incredibly moving film

    • John G
    • 3/4/12

    Slightly dated, okay. But considering the timeframe, a gutsy movie, and an astounding performance by all. Olivia De Haviland's performance is very well done, but is really well accompanied by every cast member in the frame with her.

  • The Snake Pit

    • Dashiell Barnes
    • 7/24/11

    I really enjoyed watching this film. Olivia plays an emotionally complicated character who manages to win us our sympathy & love. It's subject matter of mental illness was a courageous thing to do, leading the way for other mental illness films like "Three Faces of Eve" & "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest." One complaint for me is that the pacing & the story is too slow at times. This is made-up by de Havilland's explosive performance. I give this film a 3/5.

  • Snake PIt

    • drbarb
    • 12/4/10

    We know so much more about mental illness now:its not as simple as it turns out in Snake Pit. A little Freudian talk and whala a cure! But de Havalland was so good depicting a person's struggle with depression, disorientation and the situation of being in that kind of institution! As a person familiar with mental illness in my family my heart was breaking watching her:she was right on. This is 5 starts and goes without saying an essential.

  • A Ravaged Gem

    • Bradley E. Lacey
    • 6/26/10

    The Snake Pit, starring Olivia deHavilland, is a ravaged gem. I say ravaged because of the subject matter - a lovely woman ravaged by her mental trauma; I say gem because of the quality and significance of the film - It is the first of its kind and is done impeccably well. I first saw this film when I was a teen in the late-1970s, and have subsequently seen it several times over the years. It continuously strikes a deep cord in me. Olivia deHavilland was always a favorite. She had genuine class and intelligence to complement her elegant beauty and exquisite smile, and with this film she gave forth a bravery as well. She portrayed her troubled character with intelligence, with insight and with compassion; perhaps this is what draws me back to the film over and over again, for their appears a genuine regard for the welfare of those afflicted with mental disease.Olivia should have won an Oscar for this film. She had won the year before (To Each His Own in 1946) and would win again in another two years (The Heiress in 1949), so one can't be unduly distressed, but it was a truly beautiful and compelling performance - one of the best from the great actresses of that great era.There are some fine supporting performances, outstanding cinematography in black-and-white, and a battery of memorable pieces of dialogue - Most notably at the end, when one of the inmates says good-bye to Olivia's character: "I'll miss you. Are you sure you ain't sick anymore?"(I can't resist, so two more: "They're very careful about doors around here. You'd think they were the most important things in the world." And, "I wouldn't mind having a cold or pneumonia, something I could understand." Need we quote more to substantiate that this as a gem of a film?)

  • sanity

    • Matthew
    • 6/26/10

    what a good feeling this film gives you. at some point in everyones life they feel lost and confused, maybe not like virginia, but lost and confused as far as direction and purpose. to see her overcome her illness is very inspiring. it makes you feel like even when things seem at their lowest, if you keep at it and believe things will get better, they can. also, it shows that talking things out is a very valuble way to get perspective on ones problems. this film is a true gem

  • The Snake Pit

    • JoP
    • 3/29/10

    Wow! Terrific movie. I Tivo'd it because I was going out and had to begin watching as soon as I returned. Stayed up way past by bedtime in order to see how it resolved. And a HUGE thank you to the reviewer who noted that Jan Clayton sang "Going Home." I knew it was either Lassie's mom or Superman's girlfriend (Noel Neill), but I couldn't tell which. LOL

  • Hits home!

    • Jack The Hat
    • 3/28/10

    When I was eleven, I saw this film and at that time, my mother's, brother had been commited to an asylum--he spent his entire life there and eventually died there at an old age. I attended his funeral and I suddenly remembered the song "Going Home" and felt how appropriate it was, that is, that he was finally free and now with the other deceased members of his family. When I told my mother this story---she cried.

  • Amazing!!!

    • Cathy
    • 2/18/10

    Being a psychiatric nurse for the past 33 years I can tell you this movie was right on the money for being realistic. Even in the early '70's they were still using the ice baths & shock therapy. Olivia's portrayal was amazing. I still have my key that opened those screen that covered the windows. Thank goodness the mental health field has improved.

  • The Snake Pit

    • Michele
    • 2/16/10

    I watched this movie last night, it was fantastic. Olivia D. is amazing, you can tell she researched this topic. TCM you are the best !!

  • Compelling and thoughtful

    • Charles McMahon
    • 2/16/10

    As a vet who has been to the "flight deck" at the VA Hospital at Bay Pines just west of St. Pete, I was impressed with this film. It is difficult to act out a part of a person with rational emotive problems or automatic negative thoughts. Further, after you have been on the floor with patients (albeit all veterans with a certain modicum of commonality and respect insofar as it applies) with varying degrees of eccentricity you can see how well this film shows that some of the patients were quite happy. For example, take the patient who thought she was a nurse and walked around taking temperatures with an imaginary thermometer. I ran into a patient who would come to me and ask compulsively "Got a dollar?" and when I said no he would go "Well how about fifty cents?" I'd say no again and he'd smile and ask someone else - you didn't need money for the dayroom phone so he was just making coversation. And, of course, there were also the pacers (the VA has lots of those) and the people who say a word which remids them of another word which reminds them of another and another until you feel as if they are James Joyce personified reciting Ulysees! There was a positive end in this case. Her problem is not uncommon and the way her primary physcian handled it was well portrayed and well done. Nurse Ratchet was certainly modeled on this film. I could see where, in some circumstances, people in the middle of a problem could gain hope and courage from seeing this film but at a doctor's discretion. This would certainly rate a classic designation. I would not, however, watch it after a pint of Dewar's on the rocks!


    • 2/15/10


  • Singing inmate

    • Anne
    • 2/15/10

    Song "Going Home" - Jan Clayton

  • Have been searching for years . ..

    • Barbara
    • 1/2/10

    to find out who the woman was who sang "Goin' Home." Can anyone help with this? Thanks a whole lot! Barb

  • acting from the gut

    • Kenny
    • 9/17/08

    A ground breaking movie about a sickness nobody still to this day does not understand.The acting was second to none and well wriiten sceenplay.A must see!!


    • Michele
    • 9/2/06

    This movie is one of my favorites. Its portrayal of a very disturbed woman is in my opinion brilliant. Olivia de Haviland is touching as a woman who doesn't understand what has happened to her but desperately wants to be made normal. All the characters at the hospital are well developed and have personalities of their own thereby making the story captivating.

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