One of these days, I'm confident Hollywood will get around to filming Christine Finlayson’s new mystery, Tip of a Bone (reviewed HERE yesterday). When they do, to please the Screen Actors Guild, they’ll probably do it strictly with actors who are alive to collect their paychecks.
Me, I’d prefer computer-generated facsimiles of the folks shown here (or the real thing, if they're still kicking).
I'd give Lauren Bacall a cameo role as environmental activist Sara Blessing. She’s hardnosed, savvy, borderline fearless, and her dedication to the cause knows no bounds. As the story opens, she’s prowling around a forestland construction site near Newport, Oregon in search of something that will halt the project. Like an answer to her prayers, her flashlight catches the tip of a bone gleaming from the disturbed soil. When headlights wash over the site, she runs, but hands are already reaching for her . . .
A month after Sara’s disappearance, we meet recent California transplant Maya Rivers (seen here in her work clothes), portrayed by saucy, sassy girl-next-door Joan Blondell . After an unpleasant marriage, she’s come to Newport to reconnect with her long-lost brother Harley. (If you’ve seen Blondell’s early-thirties films opposite Jimmy Cagney, you know her tongue can be as deadly as her smile.)
Maya’s slightly scruffy brother Harley (played by Errol Flynn, of course), is pure of heart and thinks everyone else should be too. A friend of Sara Blessing, he’s a devoted member of the Coast Defenders, a group determined to protect Oregon’s forests, oceans, air and wildlife. His good-guy status makes it all the more tragic when he’s accused of torching a Bayfront building and branded a terrorist.
Jack Nicholson plays Maya’s boss Willy, the insensitive, more-than-a-little creepy proprietor of a cheesy seafood diner called the Clam Strip. One thing he won’t suffer is sass from his waitresses. Look out, Maya!
One of those waitresses is Maya’s best friend Allison, who also happens to be engaged to Harley. Allison is nervous, flighty, unreliable and subject to extreme mood swings, a role tailor-made for Bette Davis.
Crystal is a waitress, with a big mouth, a big chest and more heart than brains. Viola! Lucille Ball.
The spot where that pesky bone was discovered had been okayed for construction by Jonah Bishop, head of an environmental consulting firm. Armed with that bone, a few murky clues and a heaping helping of spunk, Maya goes undercover to discover what he knew and when he knew it. But as every horror movie fan knows, it ain’t wise to mess with Vincent Price.
As Maya struggles to clear her brother’s name, she goes up against several of his fellow Coast Defenders. Their leader-apparent is a big scarry guy named Tomas. While the book doesn’t mention him having a set of steel chompers like Richard Keil's, they'd suit the role just fine.
Elvis Presley returns from the grave (or maybe just from hiding) to play Nick, a Coast Defender who tickles Maya’s fancy - and she his. But is there more than romance behind his smoldering blue eyes?
Maya’s rival for Nick’s affections is Spiky Hair (aka Kelsey). With a hair-do re-do, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark will be perfect.
Detective Ames is looking into Harley’s alleged crimes and Maya’s sometimes extra-legal activities to prove him innocent. Who better to play him than Humphrey Bogart?
Sadly, Tip of a Bone - The Movie, featuring Miss Joan Blondell and her all-star cast, is not yet playing at your local theater. While you wait, I suggest you bone up on the book, available here:
Trade paperback eBook
More (and already produced) Overlooked Films at SWEET FREEDOM.
Tomorrow: A visit to the scene of the crimes - Newport, Oregon.