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LOOKING AT SALEM: Ah, the Noble Martyr Dodging the Bullet . . . For Now

By Peter Toll

“What we’ve got here,” said the hard-boiled Southern prison captain with an ominous pause, “is failure to communicate.” What we have here, said the weathered observer of Salem’s political machinations, is not a failure to communicate. Instead, it is a failure to acknowledge defeat, admitting when you’ve lost, you’ve lost.

And that is a breakdown of the social contract by which we all live every day.

The prison overseer in the movie, actor Strother Martin, was the hard guy authority figure. The target of his nasty tone was actor Paul Newman playing a dedicated loner who drank too much and got caught taking a big-ass bolt cutter to a parking meter. 

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