Dollar was given its world premiere in the Denver Theater
on Glenarm Street, on December 1, 1932. Though the names were
changed, the story is clearly that of Horace, Augusta and Baby
Doe Tabor. Indeed, the producers approached the real Baby Doe,
living in Leadville at the time, about attending the premiere.
She did not. Friends advised her, instead, to sue those responsible
for the movie. Though she apparently never saw Silver Dollar,
it is reported that she sent some Matchless Mine ore to Denver
to be displayed at the premiere.
In this clip from near the
movie's conclusion, an impoverished Yates Martin (Horace), played
by Edward G. Robinson, wanders into the Martin Grand Opera House
in Denver and hallucinates about its gala opening night. He
sees spectral patrons cheering him from their main-floor seats.
He sees an image of his beloved Lily (Baby Doe), played by Bebe
Daniels, in one of the boxes. A ghostly President Grant sits
near him in his own box. Yates' portrait appears briefly above
the proscenium arch. And then he winds up on the stage, attracted
there by his own ghost. To the dramatic strains of the overture
to Wagner's Tannhäuser, Yates collapses; his life
near its end.
Author David Karsner shared
the writers' credit for Silver Dollar. Karnser's 1932
book of the same name (which, unlike the movie, used the actual
names of the principals) was a popular biographical take on
the Tabors, and incredibly is still available (in 2004) via
routine internet book searches. There is every likelihood that
The Ballad of Baby Doe librettist John Latouche was
familiar with both the book and the movie, especially the scene
shown here. The climactic moment in Latouche and Moore's opera
takes place on the deserted stage of the Tabor
Grand Opera House in Denver, where Tabor confronts spectres
from his past and then collapses in despair.
Interestingly, the movie's
representation of the Tabor (aka Martin) Grand Opera House is
surprisingly true to the actual appearance of the great auditorium.
The film's set designers would have had easy access to the actual
Opera House, which existed on Denver's 16th Street until the
early 1960s, when it was torn down to make way for the Federal
Movie Database Entry
Text of the New York Times Review - December 23, 1932
Lux Radio Theater radio broadcast - April 3, 1939
Click the test pattern to view a clip (requires
Windows Media Player)