Silent Feature: The Volga Boatman


Studio: Cecil B. DeMille Pictures
Producers Distributing Corporation
Premiered: April 13, 1926 (New York)

Featured Cast: William Boyd, Elinor Fair, Victor Varconi

Producer-director: Cecil B. DeMille
Screenwriter: Lenore Coffee
Source: the Konrad Bercovici novel
Art directors: Max Parker, Mitchell Leisen, Anton Grot
Costumes: Adrian
Photography: J. Peverell Marley, Arthur Miller, Fred Westerberg
Assistant director: Frank Urson
Film editor: Anne Bauchens


The Russian Revolution frees an enslaved peasant who loves a noblewoman.

Production Quotes

“Cecil B. DeMille has completed his second personally produced feature for Producers Distributing Corp., The Volga Boatman, and it is now in the cutting room.”

– “DeMille Has Completed Volga Boatman,” Motion Picture News, Vol. XXXIII, No. 5 (January 30, 1926)


“In his picturization of The Road to Yesterday, Cecil B. DeMille has displayed a phase of his ability which he has not shown in years. With no ostentatious display, with no undue stress on sex, he has created a soul-stirring, arresting drama of real people.”

– William A. Johnston, “An Editor on Broadway,” Motion Picture News, Vol. XXXIII, No. 17 (April 24, 1926)

Artist Comment

“Mr. DeMille asked in an offhand manner, ‘How would you like to do a script for me—I mean working directly with me ?’ I couldn’t very well tell him it was like being offered the Crown Jewels, but I couldn’t say yes quickly enough. When I found out the subject of his next picture I was surprised, for it was to be The Volga Boatman. Of course, we were all familiar with the Volga Boat song, but the idea of building a picture around it had never occurred to me.”

– Lenore Coffee, Storyline: Recollections of a Hollywood Screenwriter


The Volga Boatman cost $479,356.99 and grossed $1,275,374.78.
(These figures have not been adjusted for inflation nor do they include the considerable profits realized from reissues, television syndication, and home entertainment formats.)