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Caveman: V. T. Hamlin & Alley Oop
Caveman V T Hamlin Alley Oop
Actors: Max Allan Collins, Vincent T. Hamlin, Jack Bender, Carole Bender, Will Eisner
Genres: Special Interests, Educational, Documentary, Animation
G     2008     1hr 36min

Studio: Video Communications Inc. Release Date: 11/18/2008 Run time: 96 minutes Rating: G


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Movie Details

Actors: Max Allan Collins, Vincent T. Hamlin, Jack Bender, Carole Bender, Will Eisner
Genres: Special Interests, Educational, Documentary, Animation
Sub-Genres: Special Interests, Educational, Documentary, Animation
Format: DVD - Color - Animated
DVD Release Date: 11/18/2008
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 1hr 36min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
Edition: Special Edition
MPAA Rating: G (General Audience)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

A MUST for anyone interested in Comic Book Art
Steven I. Ramm | Phila, PA USA | 11/23/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

I must admit that I don't read the comic strip "Alley Oop" in the newspaper. My knowledge of this "caveman" came - like anyone else over 50 years old - from the Hollywood Argyle's # 1 hit single with that title. (Heck, until I watched this DVD, I didn't even know that the character had a first and last name It's: "Alley" and "Oops". But YOU probably already know that.).

So I approached this well crafted - and delightful - 53 minute documentary as a novice (though I am a big fan of graphic artists). I was not only entertained, but educated as well. There were interviews and commentary by Comic book authorities as well as Oop's creator V.T. Hamlin's daughter (a librarian). Lots of commentary by Hamlin's two successors as well and the story flowed evenly.

The bonuses are truly extensive. There is a LENGTHY (43 minute!) interview with graphic artist Will Eisner - his last! And a full 50 minute panel discussion held in Iowa (Hamelin's hometown) on the 75th Anniversary. There are TWO commentary tracks too! - though I haven't gotten to those yet.)

There are more details in "Mr. Bill" `s review which preceded mine so I won't repeat those.

This is another fine release from VCI which has been doing lots of interesting releases over the last few years. Not all are restorations of old films and TV shows. This one is neither and is recommended for Alley Oops fans as well as those who only knew him from that "Oop, oop" song!

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic

Entertaining and educational
Craig Clarke | New England | 01/04/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Before watching Caveman: V.T. Hamlin & Alley Oop, my knowledge of the comic-strip cave-dweller was limited to the hit single by the Argyles (with a few additional raunchy lyrics I heard from my dad). But Max Allan Collins has produced quality indie-film work in the past -- mostly crime-genre films like Mommy and Real Time but also another documentary, Mike Hammer's Mickey Spillane -- so my interest was definitely piqued.

Caveman (originally shown at special screenings and on PBS affiliates) combines Collins's nearly career-long work in comics and his passion for independent filmmaking. Collins wrote Dick Tracy for 15 years, created Ms. Tree, and wrote the original Road to Perdition graphic novel. (He finally meshed comics and mystery novels in books like Strip for Murder.)

Collins was first intrigued by Vincent Trout Hamlin when he discovered that the artist was a fellow Iowan. To this Midwestern kid aspiring to a career in writing, knowing that someone else nearby had made a success of it provided a boost of confidence.

Caveman approaches its subject, and to a lesser extent comics in general, from the viewpoint of the uninitiated. Narrator Michael Cornelison (Eliot Ness: An Untouchable Life) gently delves into the history of Alley Oop for the benefit of neophytes, tracing comics (aptly enough) from their beginnings on cave walls.

The film touches on Hamlin's beginnings and covers his life and that of his creation through his huge success, his antagonistic relationship with his assistant (Dave Graue, who would eventually take over the strip), Hamlin's eventual death, and how Alley Oop has carried on into the modern day through the writing and artistry of husband-and-wife team Jack and Carole Bender.

Following on the success of films like The Lost World, Hamlin created Alley Oop as an alternative to popular futuristic strips like Buck Rodgers. Caveman even suggests that Hamlin was responsible for getting modern children interested in dinosaurs by including factual information along with the entertainment, and he also used the platform to introduce kids to other historical figures like Shakespeare and Cleopatra through his use of time-travel storylines.

A documentary is made in the editing room, and Caveman skillfully splices interviews and narration with still photos to great effect. The interviews are the real meat for viewers and comics fans and include talks with Graue and the Benders, along with Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit), George Hagenauer (Collins's long-time research associate), Russell Myers (Broom Hilda), Teddy Dewalt (Hamlin's daughter, who doesn't shy away from her father's faults), Stan Sakai, Sergio Aragonés, and many others offering wonderful insight from the perspective of the industry. (Collins took his camera to the San Diego Comic Con and was thus able to get a lot of material for relatively little money.)

Under all this great material is a flows an appropriately upbeat rock score by composer Chris Christensen. Also featured throughout is a new Alley Oop song with music by Christensen and lyrics by Collins.

The extras on the Caveman DVD are numerous, with probably the most spectacular one being the 45-minute interview with Will Eisner, where he discourses on comics, history, the educational use of what he calls "sequential art," The Spirit, and his own influences among other various subjects. This was the last on-camera interview Eisner gave of any length, so it's a special keepsake for comics fans.

Also included are two commentaries, one by Collins and another by Jack and Carole Bender; a morning show feature on/interview with the Benders; and a nearly hour-long panel discussion (filmed around the time of release of Collins's novel Red Sky in Morning) celebrating Alley Oop's 75th anniversary. (Caveman was also shown that day.) The panel includes Collins, the Benders, and producer Mark Lambert. They go into some detail on the making of the documentary, including some problems and other information that will interest those curious about the behind-the-scenes process of independent filmmaking.

Collins obviously has a real affection for the material (he also calls it his "secret biography of Chester Gould"), and this comes through in the viewing. Fans of Collins, Hamlin, Eisner, comics in general, documentaries, or just a well-told story should give Caveman: V.T. Hamlin & Alley Oop a look."
"Caveman Alley Oop ... V.T. Hamlin ... VCI Ent (2008)"
J. Lovins | Missouri-USA | 11/13/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"VCI Entertainment presents the 75th Anniversary Edition - "CAVEMAN:V.T. HAMLIN & ALLEY OOP" (2008) (96 mins/Color/B&W) (Dolby digitally remastered) --- Vincent Trout Hamlin (10 May 1900 - 14 June 1993) creator of the comic strip Alley Oop, was born in Perry, Iowa on 10 May 1900. In 1918, he served with the American Expeditionary Forces in France --- After the war, he attended college, and worked at various jobs around the country, including working in the oil fields of Texas, and on various newspapers as a reporter, photographer and cartoonist --- In 1925 he married high-school sweetheart Dorothy Stapleton --- He created the Alley Oop comic strip in 1932 while working at the Des Moines Register, and he wrote and drew the strip (sometimes with the help of assistant Dave Graue) until 1971 --- Hamlin died in Florida in 1993 at the age of 93.

V. T. Hamlin wrote and drew Alley Oop through four decades for NEA (Newspaper Enterprise Association) --- Initially, Alley Oop was a daily strip which had a run from December 5, 1932 to January 3, 1933 --- Beginning August 7, 1933, the early material was reworked for a larger readership --- The strip added a Sunday full page, on September 9, 1934 --- It also appeared in half page, tabloid and half tab formats, which were smaller and/or dropped panels --- During World War II, the full page vanished due to the drive to conserve paper, and it was reduced to a third of a page.

Hamlin retired in 1971, his assistant Dave Graue took over --- The last daily by Hamlin appeared December 31, 1972, and his last Sunday was April 1, 1973 --- From his studio in North Carolina, Graue wrote and drew the strip through the 1970s and 1980s until Jack Bender took over as illustrator in 1991 --- Graue continued to write the strip until his August, 2001 retirement; on December 10, 2001, the 75-year-old Graue was killed in Flat Rock, North Carolina when a dump truck hit his car --- The current Alley Oop Sunday and daily strips are drawn by Jack Bender and written by his wife Carole Bender.

As of 2007, the strip was being produced by Carole Bender and Jack Bender --- The strip is a mix of adventure, fantasy and humor --- Alley Oop, the strip's namesake and leading character, was a sturdy citizen of the prehistoric kingdom of Moo who rode his pet dinosaur, Dinny, carried a stone war hammer, dressed in nothing but a pair of fur shorts, and obviously would rather fight dinosaurs in the jungle than deal with his fellow countrymen in Moo's capital and (only) cave-town --- In spite of these exotic settings, the stories were mostly satires of American suburban life.

1. Panel Discussion: With writer/director Collins, Producer Mark Lambert
and current Alley Oop artists, Jack and Carole Bender from 2008.
Iowa Historical Museum screening (50 mins)
2. Commentary with writer/director Max Allan Collins
3. Commentary with Jack & Carol Bender.
4. Will Eisner - Last lengthy on camera interview.
The father of the graphic novel on comics from Alley Oop to Krazy Kat, from
Popeye to his own classic Spirit Publication. (43 mins)
5. Artwork by Jack & Carol Bender
6. "Good Morning Tulsa", Interview with Jack & Carole Bender.

Special Note: My favorite bonus feature is the lengthy interview with Will Eisner (The Spirit) is a collectors dream come true.
Hats off and thanks to Robert Blair and his staff at VCI Entertainment --- VCI was named in Variety and Hollywood Reporter as the first company to produce and release motion pictures directly to the home marketplace --- order your copy now from Amazon or VCI Entertainment where there are plenty of copies available on DVD, stay tuned once again for top notch releases --- VCI are experts in releasing long forgotten films and treasures to the collector -- looking forward to more Nostalgic Collections.

Total Time: 96 mins on DVD ~ VCI Entertainment ~ (11/18/2008)"