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Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Snake Pit (1948)

A young woman (Olivia De Havilland) in a mental hospital with the help of her doctor (Leo Genn) tries to reconstruct the reasons for her mental breakdown. In the 1940s, Hollywood films began taking on serious social issues like alcoholism (LOST WEEKEND) and anti-semitism (GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT). Most of them haven't aged very well, they seem rather simplistic as we've come to learn more about the subjects. THE SNAKE PIT seems to be an exception and holds up surprisingly well. Sure, some of its psychoanalysis seems oversimplified but it's still strong stuff. Reputedly, the film caused severe changes in the conditions at state hospitals and their treatment of patients. De Havilland gives a forceful complex performance with a strength she'd rarely shown on screen up to that point. Alfred Newman did the strong underscore. Directed by Anatole Litvak. The massive cast of talented actors includes Celeste Holm, Mark Stevens, Beulah Bondi, Betsy Blair, Isabel Jewell, Natalie Schafer, Lee Patrick, Jacqueline DeWit, Ruth Donnelly, Ann Doran, Glenn Langan and Helen Craig.

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