Olivia de Havilland Visits the Snake Pit

The Snake Pit is an intense film to digest and nuanced star Olivia de Havilland is magnificent as the emotionally troubled Virginia Stuart Cunningham in Atatole Litvak’s excursion into the contradictory institution of mental health! In honor of Olivia de Havilland’s grand 100th birthday on July 1st, a day which we both share, I thought it fitting to feature Ruth’s from Silver Screenings marvelous post about the 1948 film. de Havilland is extraordinary in the film, the images are unsettling as they are memorable and Ruth is always a shining example of a writer who manages to drive home the most salient points with her wonderful insight. Thanks for sharing this great piece on The Snake Pit 1948, as both Ruth and myself wish Miss Olivia a most grand 100th birthday! Cheers Joey

Silver Screenings

Olivia de Havilland... Image: whenwewerecool.tumblr.comOlivia de Havilland is not impressed. Image: whenwewerecool.tumblr.com

Here is one of the most moving scenes in the 1948 drama The Snake Pit:

Residents and staff of a mental hospital are attending a dance. There is a four-piece band  on stage, and chairs line the sides of the floor. Patients dance and flirt and talk with old friends.

If you didn’t know these people had mental health issues, you wouldn’t notice anything different about this dance. Some of the behaviour is a little odd, but have you ever been to a dance where someone didn’t behave oddly?

Towards the end of the evening, a woman on stage sings Going Home, a haunting, yearning lullaby:

Going home, going home,
I’m just going home.
Quiet-like, slip away,
I’ll be going home.
It’s not far, just close by;
Through an open door.

Everyone in the scene is now standing at attention and singing. You can feel their…

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