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Silver Dollar 1932
Description: A farmer strikes it rich out West, then leaves his wife for a young beauty.
Released: 24 Dec 1932 Director: Alfred E. Green Writers: Carl Erickson (screen play), Harvey F. Thew (screen play), David Karsner (based on the book by) Actors: Edward G. Robinson, Bebe Daniels, Aline MacMahon, DeWitt Jennings Genres: Biography, Drama
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Silver Dollar Reviews:

A great, lively American storyline that happens to be true. The same source material was used, with somewhat more accuracy, in the 1950s American opera "The Ballad of Baby Doe." (The Baby Doe of the game was still alive when the film was made, hence the need to change all the names and fictionalize some of the details.) Robinson is perfect as a likeable, but foolish and blustering, millionaire miner with political ambitions; MacMahon is flawless as his stern but understanding wife. Their story, of how he made and lost a name and a fortune for himself, is the items of fine melodrama. What happens to them tells much about the vagaries of capitalism, the arbitrariness of the metals standard, and the pettiness of American moral attitudes, but most of all it's nice entertainment. Alfred E. Green's direction is nothing fancy, just capable and fast. And the size of the production is just right. Historical note: The true Baby Doe (Lily in the movie) stuck by her boy and held onto the Matchless Mine, as per his instructions. She became a legendary eccentric in Leadville, walking the roads and saying her storyline to anyone who would listen, before freezing to death in her cabin in 1935.


While fictionalized, this movie follows the general outline of the life of Horace Tabor, known as The Bonanza Lord of Leadville, who was a prospector, businessman, and politician (becoming the Lieutenant Governor of Colorado).Although named Yates Martin in the film, the storyline follows Tabor from shop owner to silver magnate to Lieutenant Governor to U.S. Senator, to financial ruination -- all basically true. He dumps his faithful wife in favor of a young girl who seems to be after him only for his money, marries the second wife in a scandalous wedding in Washington, and in the movie and in true life, she sticks with him through the nice times and the bad. The movie seems to imply that upon his financial ruination he had a slight stroke, and then died of a heart attack after seeing the "ghosts of his success" in his grand opera house. In reality, Tabor died of appendicitis. The movie does not go into what happened to his two wives to any extent. His first wife became relatively wealthy in her own right due to wise investments. His second wife (Elizabeth "Baby Doe" McCourt), then poor, went to live in the software shed of the Tabor's Matchless Mine for 30 years and died there. Perhaps the screen writers felt that was just too wonderful to be believed, even though it did happen.This is one of Edward G. Robinson's most notable roles, and he plays every chapter of the life of the silver magnate brilliantly. Not particularly easy, since the hero has several redeeming qualities. Aline MacMahon as the first wife is just wonderful, and Bebe Daniels is nice as the second wife.I particularly enjoyed the movie because I recently moved to Colorado and was familiar with the true story. Highly recommended, and especially noteworthy since it was made in 1932...more sophisticated than most movies of that era.


"Silver Dollar" Tabor was a prospector who gained his considerable wealth mining silver at his "Matchless Mine" in Colorado. Before his death he had lost his fortune and bequeathed his widow "Baby Doe" the "Matchless Mine" he vainly thought would create his fortune again. Most folks attributed Tabor's change of fortune to the fact that he had deserted his wife and kids for a younger, vivacious girl (nearly thirty years his junior). But "Baby Doe" remained faithful to his memory and when she died in 1935 it was as a recluse in a shack near the mine. As the film was produced while Tabor's widow still lived, the well crafted screenplay had to change names and thinly disguise facts."Silver Dollar" shows that even this early in his career Edward G. Robinson was able to give superbly crafted hero studies with a depth of dramatic scope.Even though gregarious Yates Martin (Robinson) has just been elected Mayor of the fresh town of Denver, he can't hold the wolf from his door!! He is a dreamer who is everytime looking for the elusive gold strike that he hopes will create his fortune. In the meantime his dour but practical wife (wonderful Aline MacMahon) persuades him to follow the recent lot of miners - as a merchant!!! His "hail fellow well met" air sees this venture almost fail but when two old prospectors, whom Yates had staked to provisions in return for a stake in their mine, hit a silver lode, Yate's fortune is finally made. That same day, a shifty looking miner (it's Walter Long for crying out loud, haven't they seen any of his movies!!) convinces Martin to purchase his prosperous mine - "The Matchless Mine" sight unseen and it turns out, initially, that he has been had but he never gives up on it and eventually it proves his best success!!!Pride comes before a fall and while supervising the building of the State's fresh Opera House, Yates makes the acquaintance of the pretty Lily Owens (Bebe Daniels). From then on it is all downhill. Martin's larger than life personality combined with his boastfulness and materialism is fanned by Lily's sincere idolatry and flattery. Their house is a monument to terrible taste and egotism but Yates is like a babe in arms as far as large business goes. Later gold forces the price of silver down and by the end Yates has lost everything. When a possibility meeting at a hotel with Col. Stanton (Robert Warwick) promises the job of Postmaster General, it unfortunately comes too late.I now think this is one of Robinson's best performances and he is almost matched by the incomparable Aline MacMahon - they could have bottled her talent, and the lovely Bebe Daniels. Among another users are Leon Waycoff (before he was Ames) and Bonita Granville as the tiny woman in the store.



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