6 June 2002 | radkins
Recent history shortsightedness
"The Volga Boatman" is an interesting film if only for a better idea of the capabilities of William Boyd, an actor known to most only as "Hopalong Cassidy". Boyd, as a DeMille discovery and contract player was in many of DeMille's films for his own studio, after Paramount and before his 3 year stint at M.G.M. DeMille loved Russian affectations at the time, even to wearing Cossack shirts when on his country home called "The Paradise Ranch". The long-standing tradition of eschewing accurate wardrobe in order to appeal to a more contemporary audience is very noticeable in this film. The designer, Adrian, chose (or was directed to choose) decidedly late 1920's fashions for this film. These are not the high waisted hobble skirts of the period, and do not resemble photographs of the women of the Russian royal family whose fashion sense seemed to be closer to the turn of the century rather than 1914-1918. The scenes in which the upper class men and women are pulling the wagons through the mud in their evening clothes reveals the short hemlines and t-strap high heeled shoes so popular in the nineteen-twenties. That the women's clothes are beautiful is beside the point. DeMille was a populist and rather liked being in the forefront of fashion so that the "Volga" wardrobe doesn't contribute to the realism of the film.