Tom Jones is famous for many things, not least selling millions of records and having adoring women fling their underwear at him. But it's unlikely he ever imagined his manhood would be a plot device in a movie.
Audiences in Wales are flocking to a bawdy comedy entitled A Bit of Tom Jones? and writer-director Peter Watkins-Hughes' film will soon roll out in England.
The plot follows two mates who buy what is purported to be Jones' severed penis, triggering gorilla fights, the world's slowest car chase and randy pensioners indulging in bubble baths.
A former BBC producer, Watkins-Hughes got the idea when he was thinking of birthday presents for his wife. “I was running out of jewellery ideas then I remembered the true story about selling off Napoleon Bonaparte's private parts after his death,” he told Cineuropa. "Suddenly, I had this entire concept pop into my head of this secret underworld of people selling celebrity body parts and of a poor schmoe who gives his long suffering wife a bit of her favourite actor as a gift.”
The original plan was to set the movie in 1960s Los Angeles with Errol Flynn's member at the centre of the plot, but for cost reasons he oped to shoot in Wales. He scrounged the budget of £100,000 from a solicitor, pub landlord and other business people, and the cast, including John Henshaw, Roger Evans, Eve Myles, Jonny Evans and Gwen Cooper, worked for peanuts,
Welsh exhibitors have been delighted with the audience turnout. "I'm not surprised the film is doing well. It's a laugh-out-loud comedy with the added bonus of being set in Wales," Bernie Snowball, the manager of the Market Hall cinema in Brynmawr, told The Guardian.
As far as I know the Welsh superstar hasn't made any comments on the film; perhaps someone will ask him when he tours Australia next March. But plenty of his fans have registered their displeasure. “Sorry, I looked at the trailer for this – trash!” one American devotee calling herself Carol M told a Jones fans' website. “I am offended by this so-called 'Welsh humour' and I am far from a 'stuffy' person. But this is surely c**p!”
Pam, another US fan, blogged, “I wasn't amused. Not sure what kind of humour this is, but definitely not my kind. What anyone would find so funny about this is beyond me.”
Others, like mharding, could see the joke, declaring, “I suppose this story is about greed and gullibility and the filmmakers just needed a famous, er, name to hang the narrative on. In any case, Tom's always wanted a big part in a film.”
Maybe Tom will get that part if a British outfit named Brit Pack Productions succeeds in raising the dough for a film it announced in 2008, a comedy about a group of fishermen who plan to smuggle £10 million worth of drugs inside a consignment of cod. Jones, who was last seen on screen in Tim Burton's Mars Attacks battling aliens who invade his Las Vegas show, would play one of the leads alongside Rhys Ifans.
The film's title? The Codfather.