It would be wonderful if all genre film references were as well-written and enjoyable as Prehistoric Humans in Film and Television, by Michael Klossner.
Some of the earliest "genre films" ever made dealt with prehistoric people, or "cavemen" as they're often called. Cinema pioneer D. W. Griffith filmed Man's Genesis way back in 1912, with 16-year-old Mae Marsh as the sought-after cavegirl. Special effects legend Willis O'Brien, who would go on to bring King Kong to life, honed his stop-motion skills on a series of one-reel animated caveman comedies that he created for the Edison Company from 1915 to 1917. And many of the biggest comedy stars of the time, including Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, and Buster Keaton, played comic cave-dwellers before the silent film era came to a close. So the caveman genre has been with us almost as long as movies themselves, but until recently there has been no single source where one could find information on all of these films. That situation happily changed with the release of Klossner's very thorough book.
Thankfully, Klossner doesn't look down on a film just because it's not "scientifically accurate." This even-handed approach allows him to praise Peter Elliott's nuanced performance as the title character in the stark drama, Missing Link, while applauding with equal gusto Gregg Martell's marvelous turn as the flummoxed Neanderthal in the lighthearted romp, Dinosaurus!. He can discuss a bikinis-and-dinosaurs epic such as When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth with the same fairness as he applies to a gritty, serious tale like Quest for Fire. Comedies or dramas, fantasies or documentaries, aimed at kids or meant for grownups ... everyone and every film is examined in the context of its own aims and ambitions. Klossner is himself open to enjoying and appreciating all types of approaches to this material, and so realizes that we are as well.
The book is logically categorized into three sections: "Fictional Works in Prehistorical Settings," "Documentaries," and "Fictional Works in Historical, Modern, and Extraterrestrial Settings." And besides movies, Klossner also covers -- just as exhaustively -- the medium of television, including such recent big-budget, highly-rated cable programs as Ice World and Walking with Cavemen. Commendably complete and comprehensive, illustrated with over 70 photos, eminently readable, and just plain fun, Prehistoric Humans in Film and Television is a must for anybody who enjoys the venerable "caveman" genre in any or all of its forms. From Mae (Marsh) to Rae (Dawn Chong), they're all here!