in about 100 words or less
USA 108m, B&W
Director: Anatole Litvak; Cast: Olivia de Havilland, Mark Stevens, Leo Genn, Celeste Holm
The Snake Pit stars Olivia de Havilland as Virgina, a young woman who finds herself in an insane asylum, with virtually no memory of her previous life. Over the course of her treatment, and the length of the film, she undergoes a variety of treatments, including psychotherapy which eventually restores her memory and uncovers the reasons underlying her condition. The film provides a serious but optimistic outlook on the treatment of mental illness which has rarely been attempted in cinema. De Havilland’s performance as Virginia is outstanding as is the depiction of the various wards and the many patients which provide a frightening backdrop to this engaging story (Klaus Ming December 2009).