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Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
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trying to get her to change the name of the book. I said, “Novels are bought to a great extent by women. Women hate snakes. If you call a book The Snake Pit, you're losing a big part of your audience just by using the wrong title. Women won't go near it.” Well, thank the lord, Mary Jane told me to go to hell. She said it was absolutely silly to consider changing the name. We published under the name The Snake Pit.

Things began to happen right away. First of all, it was chosen by the Book-of-the-Month Club. Second, every movie company got interested in it. Third, the whole story lent itself to great publicity and resulted in a complete investigation of state mental institutions. They've been called “snake pits” ever since. The title was absolutely perfect. To this very day, they talk about these places as snake pits, which they were. They were horrible, but great reforms were effected in New York and Chicago among other places. They are still terrible... Well, the movie rights we finally sold. Most producers backed away at the last minute because a couple of big scenes involved shock treatment. They thought that the whole setting of an insane asylum was gruesome.

One man, who happened to be a warm personal friend of ours, named Anatole Litvak bought the rights on his own. I remember that I sold it to him while we were having dinner at the St. Regis Hotel one night and I remember the price. It was $45,000, which was a lot of money in those days,

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