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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

She's Uts-Nay.

The Snake Pit (1948) on IMDb

Plot Overview

cafeteriaRobert Cunningham (Mark Stevens) a clerk at a Chicago publishing house returns a rejected manu­script to Miss Virginia Stuart (Olivia de Havilland,) 24, in the waiting room and later joins her (who was sitting alone) in the base­ment cafeteria. They meet there again on occasion and sharing the same interest in music and the arts take in the opera and other night­life together. They fall in love but she resists his proposals and remains aloof leaving by train after one of their trysts, seemingly gone for good.

They later connect up in New York not quite by accident. After some sort of internal crisis, she elopes with him but soon after suffers a nervous break­down and is admitted to Jupiter Hill State Hospital. In a sort of inverted game of Chutes & Ladders, where the exit is from the lowest Ward One, she is assigned ward according to her progress. The highest (worst) numbered ones contain the worst cases, and we can follow her progress by the company she keeps.


Her road to recovery is aided by prayer (“Please, God. Please help me.”) If she'd been more prayerful to begin with, perhaps she would have kept her sound mind, but who's to say? Her singular focus on good enter­tain­ment and hard work hadn't sufficed.

puzzled ladiesShe's also helped by being in a social milieu with other women in the same boat as she. Women especially are social creatures, and having just a husband for company, be he ever so mind­ful, seems not to have been enough, not when she harbors unresolved daddy issues.

In all this her Dr. Mark Kik (Leo Genn) was a godsend. There's a natural sus­picion of voo­doo doctors, but this one explains the tools of his trade as he goes along, and we end up quite comfort­able with the pipe-smoking shrink and his bag of tricks. He qualifies for application of the verse in the Apocrypha, (Eccles­ias­ticus 38:1) “Honour a physician with the honour due unto him for the uses which ye may have of him: for the Lord hath created him.”

Production Values

” (1948) was directed by Anatole Litvak and adapted to screen­play by Frank Partos, Millen Brand and Arthur Laurents from the novel The Snake Pit by Mary Jane Ward. It stars Olivia de Havil­land, Mark Stevens, Leo Genn, and Helen Craig. The leading character was played well by Olivia de Havil­land. The rest of the cast was great also.

It wasn't rated but seemed tame by today's standards except for the relentless smoking. In today's climate a woman with two serious beaus might be frowned upon, but in 1947 she would have saved her sexual favors for after an actual wedding giving herself more room to frolic before­hand. It was filmed on location at Camarillo State Hospital, California, USA. The back­ground score by Alfred Newman was mesmerizing. The B&W cinema­tog­raphy by Leo Tover captured the setting exquisitely. The fading in and out from one scene to the next allowed me to pause in the middle and switch back and forth between them, both being projected on the screen simul­taneously, just by changing my vertical viewing angle on my LCD screen. Weird.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

This movie seemed to be dated in style but timeless in substance. My mom would have been starting her nursing career about the time in which it was set, so it offered me a perspective on the times that shaped her. It was a fairly engrossing drama with mostly sympathetic characters especially the main lead. There's no excuse not to see it.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability for children: Not rated, but passed code. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Good for Groups. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Apocryphal scripture was taken from The Septuagint with Apocyrypha: Greek and English. U.S.A.: Hendrick­son Pub. Originally published by Samuel Bagster & Sons, Ltd., London, 1851. Print, WEB.