"It's not unusual to..." No, wait, wrong Tom Jones.* Slightly older than the Welsh crooner, the Tom Jones we're talking about here dates back to 1749, and the publication of Henry Fielding's famous (and infamous) novel The History Of Tom Jones, A Foundling. It's been filmed before, but it's about to be filmed again, and Tom Vaughan is the just-announced man for the job.
The sprawling narrative, in a nutshell far too small for the job, involves a young lad found homeless and without family on the West Country property of the kindly Squire Allworthy. The story of his life thereafter is partly a sort of bawdy proto-romcom and partly a social commentary, controversially (for the time) taking in Tom's illegitimacy along with other social issues like prostitution and rape. Its critics dimissed it as "low", but it sold by the cartload and remains both popular and much-studied. Particularly memorable villains include the deliciously named schoolteacher Reverund Thwackum, and the dastardly conspirators Lord Fellamar and Lady Bellaston.
It's been much adapted, perhaps most famously in Tony Richardson's great, Oscar-winning '60s version, which starred Albert Finney. Matthew Faulk and Mark Skeet have written the screenplay this time: not their first brush with classic doorstop Eng. Lit. since they were behind Mira Nair's Thackeray-based Vanity Fair in 2004.
"Tom Jones is a timeless, classic romantic comedy," believes producer Janette Day. "It is exciting to be bringing his amorous, heartwarming adventures to a new generation."
"I am thrilled to be directing such an influential and iconic piece of work," says Vaughan, "and am now in the midst of finding our own Tom Jones and the rest of the cast.”
Finney as Allworthy (or Thwackum!) would, we reckon, be a lovely bit of symmetry. But watch this space.
*We will have our little joke.