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The Snake Pit

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Original title
The Snake Pit
Running time
108 min.
United States United States
Frank Partos, Millen Brand (Novel: Mary Jane Ward)
Alfred Newman
Leo Tover
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20th Century Fox
Drama | Psychological Drama. Disease
Synopsis / Plot
The Snake Pit is a startling and stark drama about mental illness, anchored by Olivia de Havilland's extraordinary, Oscar-nominated performance as Virginia, a newlywed succumbing to emerging psychosis. Even by today's standards, this powerful 1948 film, based on an autobiographical novel by Mary Jane Ward and boldly directed by Anatole Litvak (Sorry, Wrong Number), is an unsettling vision of insanity and the horrifying conditions under which the mentally ill are sometimes confined. The script is typical of reductive notions of psychoanalysis found in 1940s American movies, in which enormous instability of the mind is directly linked to childhood repression and guilt. But even if one doesn't take Virginia's condition all that seriously, the actress's portrayal of agony and confusion, and that of scores of supporting players, is stunning to behold. The star is helped immeasurably by a sturdy performance from British actor Leo Genn as a sympathetic psychiatrist.
1949: Venice: Best Actress (Olivia de Havilland)
1948: Oscar: Best Sound. 6 Nominations
1948: New York Film Critics Circle: Best Actress (Olivia de Havilland)
1948: Directors Guild of America (DGA): Nominated for Best Director
1948: Writers Guild of America (WGA): Best Drama Screenplay
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