I have used a hand operated vacuum pump to bleed brakes many times. The brand (I think) is Mighty Vac. It is a hand operated piston pump with a small catch can that captures fluid. Has a rubber hose that fits over the bleeder.
You just crank the handle a couple times to pre-vac... open the bleeder and pump till the canister is full. Close the bleeder... then you can empty the canister and start over.
I know after using it I will NEVER go back to the two-man method. I also never had much luck with gravity bleeding.
I do know you have to be watchful you don't suck the reservoir dry as this thing is fast.
I believe you can get one at most parts houses and if I remember it was pretty cheap.
You can also use it for other things like testing vacuum advance on a distributor...ect.