Edward G. Robinson turns in one of his greatest performances in this little-seen fictionalized biography of H.A.W. "Silver Dollar" Tabor, a lowly farmer who struck it rich with a silver mine and gained political power, only to lose everything when the nation switched to the gold
standard. Renamed Yates Martin for the film because Tabor's widow (nicknamed "Baby Doe") was still alive during the production, Robinson is a Kansas farmer who heads off with his wife, Aline MacMahon, for Colorado to open a general store in the hope of getting rich off all the prospectors.
Unfortunately, he begins extending credit to the miners and soon finds himself broke. Just as he and MacMahon are about to give up and return to Kansas, Robinson stumbles across a rich vein of silver and suddenly finds himself a millionaire. With his new-found wealth, he is able to enter politics
and is successively elected mayor, postmaster, sheriff, and lieutenant governor. Robinson spends his money like there's no tomorrow, sinking a huge portion of his fortune into a mansion in Denver and an opera house. While living in the fast lane, he meets Bebe Daniels, a beautiful blonde who's
addicted to luxury, and leaves his wife for her. The relationship causes a scandal and threatens to destroy his bid for a seat in the US Senate, but Robinson survives the crisis, gets elected, divorces MacMahon, and marries Daniels. He continues his carefree spending habits, which are now pushed
to new heights by Daniels. Eventually disaster strikes when the country switches to the gold standard, demonetizing silver. Robinson's fortune is wiped out by the stroke of a pen. Daniels vanishes along with the money, and Robinson spends the rest of his days wandering the streets he helped build.
The once wealthy and important man stumbles into the opera house he built and dies of a heart attack--alone. Though the film is directed in a straightforward, unimaginative manner by Alfred E. Green, SILVER DOLLAR is dominated by Robinson's superb and detailed performance which proved to Hollywood
he could handle more than tough-guy gangster roles. In 1956, the rather melodramatic life of Tabor was also turned into a popular opera entitled "The Ballad of Baby Doe," by Douglas Moore and John Latouche. The real-life "Baby Doe" Tabor lived alone in a cabin near the silver mine that started it
all. In 1935 she was found in the cabin--well into her 80s--frozen to death.
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- Review: Edward G. Robinson turns in one of his greatest performances in this little-seen fictionalized biography of H.A.W. "Silver Dollar" Tabor, a lowly farmer who struck it rich with a silver mine and gained political power, only to lose everything when the nati… (more)