Silver Dollar Film Details
Overview: Yates and Sarah Martin are barely getting by in a Colorado boom town grocery store. Sudden wealth leads to greater prosperity and political power. In Denver Yates buys a mansion and builds an opera house. He leaves Sarah for glamorou
Review: “Baby Face” director Alfred E. Green charted the rags-to-riches rise and fall of a farmer in “Silver Dollar,” a saga about the 19th century silver boom in Colorado over a ten year period in this trim but tragic western. Despite its western setting, “Silver Dollar” focuses more on politics and business as Yates Martin (Edward G. Robinson) emerges from the mines, becomes an entrepreneur, later a millionaire, eventually a senator, but ultimate dies penniless. The hubris of the protagonist is that he leaves his hard-working wife and is seduced by fame and fortune. Men may be the only people who can vote, our hero is warned, but women shape public opinion. Robinson made “Silver Dollar” long after his star-making role in “Little Caesar” and other oddities like the Asian killer in “Hatchet Man.” The most interesting scene here occurs when Yates comes home to his wife in a drunken stupor and climbs into bed with her. We actually get to see them occupy the same mattress, a practice that the Production Code Administration later frowned on in Hollywood movies. Yates Martin dreams of striking it rich with gold. In 1876, Yates’ wife Sarah (Aline MacMahon of “Gold Diggers of 1933”) convinces him that instead of prospecting for wealth in the ground that he should prospect for wealth in the pockets of other miners. Yates suffers from too much generosity and he allows his customers to buy their supplies and pay for them later. Eventually, he grub stakes a couple of miners who strike it rich and share in the profits. Along the way, Yates is approached to campaign for public office and he enters politics. Our protagonist decides to run for the lofty position of lieutenant governor of Colorado. Before he launches his campaign, he buys out a sickly miner and his daughter, but Yates learns too late that he has been swindled. Fearful that he will lose his bid for lieutenant governor when word spreads that he has been had, Yates orders his men to keep on digging. Miraculously, they strike a vein and Yates is rolling money. Initially, Yates lived to get rich on gold, but he ends up making a fortune in silver and renounces his dreams of gold. Yates is no spendthrift and he shares his fortune with the ‘people’ of Colorado. He finances the construction of a post office and later he commissions the building of a world-class opera house in Denver. During the planning stages for the opera house, Yates encounters a beautiful woman, Lily Owens (Bebe Daniels of “42nd Street”), who laughs at his ignorance about classic European figures like Beethoven when his planner suggests that they place figures of these types in his opera palace. Meantime, Sarah languishes ignorantly in a sumptuous house that Yates has built for her and raises their son Max (David Durand) while Yates lavishes clothes and jewelry on the seductive Lily. The turning point for Yates comes when he dedicates the opera house with Ulysses S. Grant (Walter Rodgers of “The Dramatic Life of Abraham Lincoln” where he also impersonated Grant) as his guest of honor. Sarah doesn’t attend the festivities, but Lily does and Yates takes his first step down the road to disaster. When Yates decides to run for senator, his advisers warn him that he must be a paragon of virtue, so Yates divorces Sarah and weds Lily in Washington. A distinctly uncomfortable President Chester A. Arthur attends the ceremony. Eventually, Yates uses his wealth to buy a temporary seat as senator, but the bottom drops out of his financial kingdom when President Grover Cleveland institutes the gold standard. Interestingly, Lily remains dutifully at Yates side through his many setbacks, and Sarah—who has hung onto the fortune that Yates gave her—tries to give him some. Yates rejects her offer. Clearly, Yates believes that he can weather this catastrophe, but he doesn’t. All along Yates has assured everyone that if they trust him that he see to it that they wallow in silver and ultimately get buried in a silver casket. At the last minute, Yates receives an appointment as the Post Master of Denver, but it comes too late. Sarah and Lily both appear at his funeral. “Silver Dollar” is neither particularly exciting nor charismatic. Robinson delivers a strong performance as an individual who is clearly out of his element when he blunders into the arena of politics and big business. The scene with William Jennings Bryan serves as another turning point in his career. Yates believes that his company can excavate twice as much silver to compensate for the sudden prominence of gold. Actually, there are no villains to speak of and Yates’ first wife doesn’t bear him any ill will. Green directs this biographic epic with competence, and “Silver Dollar” never wears out its welcome. Nevertheless, nothing truly memorable happens. “Silver Dollar” is a well-made potboiler with a sturdy cast. Robinson’s character is derived from the legendary Horace Austin Warner Tabor known best as ‘The Bonanza King of Leadville.’ Scenarists Carl Erickson and Harvey Thew based their screenplay on David Karsner’s biographical novel about Tabor. Later, Douglas Moore immortalized Tabor’s life in his opera, “The Ballad of Baby Doe,” in 1956 in Colorado.
Country: United States
Duration: 83 min
Genre: Biography, Drama
Also known as: Guldets magt,Sonho Prateado,Silberdollar,Valet d’argent,Silver Dollar,El rey de la plata