The Snake Pit [DVD] [1948]

20th Century Fox's Studio Classics series delivers a handsome DVD edition of this ahead-of-its-time drama about mental illness and the long road to recovery. The Snake Pit has been transferred to disc in its original full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1 from a clean and well-balanced print, and the film looks quite fine indeed. This edition includes a new stereo remix of the film's original English-language audio, which adds space and depth while honoring the feel of the original mix. The original English mono mix is also included, as well as dubbed mono tracks in French and Spanish and optional subtitles in English and Spanish. Fox has also included an informative commentary track from film historian Aubrey Solomon, as well as a large gallery of production photos, the film's original theatrical trailer, and several newsreel clips documenting the many awards the film received.
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Overview

Special Features

  • Commentary by film historian and author Aubrey Solomon
  • Movietone News: "N.Y. Film Critics Honor Olivia de Havilland," "National Magazines Make Film Awards," "Showmen Honor 'The Snake Pit,'" "Special Film Award Is Presented for 'The Snake Pit,'" "Motion Picture Academy Awards Film 'Oscars'"
  • Still gallery
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Full-frame format (aspect ratio 1.33:1)
  • Audio: English stereo, English mono, French mono, Spanish mono
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Closed Captioned

Synopsis

The Snake Pit
"A woman loses her mind and is confined to a mental institution." That's the usual TV-listing encapsulation of The Snake Pit -- and like most such encapsulations, it only scratches the film's surface. Olivia de Havilland stars as an outwardly normal young woman, married to loyal, kindly Mark Stevens. As de Havilland's behavior becomes more and more erratic, however, Stevens comes to the sad conclusion that she needs professional help. She is sent to an overcrowded state hospital for treatment -- a curious set-up, in that, while de Havilland is treated with compassion by soft-spoken psychiatrist Leo Genn, she is sorely abused by resentful matrons and profoundly disturbed patients. Throughout the film, she is threatened with being clapped into "the snake pit" -- an open room where the most severe cases are permitted to roam about and jabber incoherently -- if she doesn't realign her thinking. In retrospect, it seems that de Havilland's biggest "crime" is that she wants to do her own thinking, and that she isn't satisfied with merely being a loving wife. While this subtext may not have been intentional, it's worth noting that de Havilland escapes permanent confinement only when she agrees to march to everyone else's beat. Amazingly, Olivia de Havilland didn't win an Academy Award for her harrowing performance in The Snake Pit (the only Oscar won by the film was for sound recording). While some of the psychological verbiage in this adaptation of Mary Jane Ward's autobiographical novel seems antiquated and overly simplistic today, The Snake Pit was rightly hosannahed as a breakthrough film in 1948. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Olivia de Havilland
    Olivia de Havilland - Virginia Stuart Cunningham
  • Mark Stevens
    Mark Stevens - Robert Cunningham
  • Leo Genn
    Leo Genn - Dr. Mark Kik
  • Celeste Holm
    Celeste Holm - Grace
  • Glenn Langan
    Glenn Langan - Dr. Terry
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