Movie Diary 1/24/2022

The Snake Pit (Anatole Litvak, 1948). This is certainly a Hollywood movie, no doubt about it (specifically, it’s one of those Fox postwar pictures that attempt an adult approach to social issues), and it has a conventional character arc at its center. But still, it’s pretty disturbing, from the details of life in a mental hospital to Olivia de Havilland’s willingness to go out there. The film has a curious movement, too, kind of jangled and abrupt; surely it’s missing some scenes, especially involving the character played by Celeste Holm, who seems important in the early going but then disappears. Even beneath the scenes depicting normal life and domesticity, there’s something strange and desperate going on – a feeling that ends up being more memorable than the kind psychiatrist played by Leo Genn, and his confidence in the talking cure.

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