The Snake Pit

Synopsis: Virginia Cunningham finds herself in a state insane asylum...and can't remember how she got there. In flashback, her husband Robert relates their courtship, marriage, and her developing symptoms. The asylum staff are not demonized, but fear, ignorance and regimentation keep Virginia in a state of misery, as pipesmoking Dr. Mark Kik struggles through wheels within wheels to find the root of her problem. Then a relapse plunges Virginia back into the harrowing 'Snake Pit'...
Genre: Drama, Mystery
Director(s): Anatole Litvak
Production: 20th Century Fox Film Corporation
  Won 1 Oscar. Another 9 wins & 9 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
108 min

Do you know

where you are, Mrs. Cunningham?

Where is he?

As if he were crouching behind me.

- Why am I afraid to look at him?

- You know, don't you, Mrs. Cunningham?

In New York, of course.

I used to live in Evanston, Illinois.

That's where I was born.

It's right near Chicago.

Did you sleep well

last night, Mrs. Cunningham?

- How are you today?

- Very well, thank you.

Who is he and why all those questions?

As if he were testing me.

- Do you hear voices?

- Think I'm deaf? I hear yours.

It's hard to keep on being civil

when they ask you such naive questions.

But who's that?

And what's happened to him?

You suspect him of anything.

He's clever,

but he can't fool me with his magic.

It's an old trick,

changing into a girl.

Oh, no. She can't be he.

She doesn't ask questions.

Pardon me, but you look pale.

Have you been job hunting?

- Virginia, don't be silly.

- You know my name?

You must have seen it on my bag.

I don't know where it is.

I was going to get some groceries

and go back to the apartment.

Oh, could you tell me how to get to...

What are you talking about?

How to get to where?

Where? What's the name of the street?

It's the sun.

It's too warm.

I'm worried about you, Virginia. I wasn't

gonna tell you this, but I'm going to one.

Maybe I'll be leaving from there.

Before long, I'll be on my own...

wondering where the next meal's

coming from.

- Look, how would you like to...

- All right, ladies.

- Let's go.

- What's the matter?

- Please. You don't wanna make trouble.

- What is it? A fire? A riot?

- Shh.

- All right, ladies. Fall in. Fall in.

- You heard me. I said fall in.

- Fall in? Fall in what?

- No talking, ladies.

- You see?

- Why do we have to stand with all of them?

- Come on, ladies.

Let's go.

Oh, I see. It's a zoo, a tour.

I don't like a zoo, do you?

I don't like the smell, and I'm sorry

for the animals, locked up in cages.

Don't talk now.

You know it's against the rules.

- Enjoy the sun, Virginia?

- Yes, thank you.

People are friendly

in New York, or maybe just fresh.

I've never seen her before, and she calls me

Virginia. What am I supposed to say? Hi, kiddo?

Come on. Step along.

- Ruth, Minna, where are you going?

- Okay, Jean. They're all in.

Ward 3-A, step out.

No talking, ladies.

Mary, get up.

You know better than that. Come on.

Ward 3-A,

we haven't got all day.

- Where are we going?

- Keep in line, ladies.

- Why do we have to keep in line?

I don't like regimentation.

- Please, Virginia.

- Doing all right, Lucille?

- Yes, thank you.

I may have to

make a speech against it.

- Against what?

- Regimentation, of course.

But l... I can't make a speech

without writing it first.

Now, now. Don't run, ladies.

- And no pushing.

- Quit pushing.! Somebody's pushing.!

- Come on.! Open the door.!

- Quiet. No talking.

- The way they treat us,

you'd think we were criminals.

- That's right.

- Criminals?

- Come on. Take over here,

will you? Let's go.

- Criminals?

- Come on, Virginia.

A prison?

That's it.

A prison. I should've known it.

- How did I get here?

- What's wrong, honey?

- Let me go. Let me go!

- Virginia, Miss Hart will hear you.

I won't stay here. I won't stay in this place

another minute. I wanna get out!

- What's the trouble?

- Nothing, Miss Hart. It's that

Virginia feels a little faint.

She got a little too much sun, I think.

She'll be all right.

Hello, Mrs. Cunningham. Miss Hart, we'd like

to speak to Mrs. Cunningham for a minute.

- Yes, Doctor. Go ahead, Grace.

- I'm sorry.

Would you like

to sit down?

Don't be afraid, Mrs. Cunningham.

We're your friends.

We just want to talk to you.

- How do you feel today?

- Very well, thank you.

- Is there any reason

why I shouldn't feel well?

- No. Of course not.

Maybe you'll think it's strange

to ask you this, but somehow

people never remember my face.

- Do you know who I am, Mrs. Cunningham?

- Of course.

You do? Tell me.

- Don't you know?

- If you don't mind, would

you tell me just the same?

- The warden.

- The warden of what?

- Of this prison.

- Is there any reason why

you should be in prison?

Why, yes, of course.

I'm writing a novel about prisons...

and I've come here

to study conditions and take notes...

about one day's worth,

thank you, and I'm going to leave now.

Where will you go when...

when you leave here?

- To your husband?

- I have no husband.

- You haven't?

I thought you were married.

- I am married.

If you're married, doesn't that

mean that you have a husband?

Pardon me. It slipped my mind.

What's your name again?

Stuart. Virginia Stuart.

- Miss Stuart?

- No. Mrs. Stuart.

- Mrs. Stuart?

- Virginia, darling, look at me.

Don't you know who I am?

I'm Robert. Virginia.

All right, Mrs. Cunningham.

The nurse'll take you back now.

Come on, Virginia.

You know, I'll be really sorry

to leave those poor girls.

I asked you to come here because

I've been going over information

you gave about your work.

We've seldom had a case history

that told so little.

I wish I could tell you more

about it, Dr... I'm sorry, but

I can't quite pronounce your name.

"Kik's" all right.

That's what everybody calls me here.

Well, you see, Dr. Kik, my wife never

talked very much about herself or her family.

I always thought it was strange,

but when you love somebody,

you're not looking for symptoms.

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Frank Partos

Frank Partos (2 July 1901, Budapest - 23 December 1956, Los Angeles) an American screenwriter, of Hungarian Jewish origin, and an early executive committee member of the Screen Actors Guild, which he helped found. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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