TCM’s Acclaimed Podcast The Plot Thickens Returns for Season Five Focusing on John Ford

TCM’s Acclaimed Podcast The Plot Thickens Returns for Season Five Focusing on John Ford

Press Release ·

Turner Classic Movies’ (TCM) award-winning podcast The Plot Thickens will premiere season five, Decoding John Ford, on June 6, co-produced by Novel. Host Ben Mankiewicz strips back the mythology to reveal Ford’s brilliance – alongside the often ugly, uncomfortable truths about his life and movies, asking whether we can ever truly separate art from the artist. This season features scores of never-before-heard archival interviews, including John Wayne, Katharine Hepburn, Henry Fonda, James Stewart, Woody Strode, and John Ford himself.

“John Ford is a mercurial figure. Not surprisingly given his stature, the stereotypes about Ford are incomplete,” said TCM Host Ben Mankiewicz. “This is a man defined by contradictions: he revered the military and envied those who served yet bristled at authority; Ford became known as one of Hollywood’s leading conservatives, yet one of his finest films is 1940’s The Grapes of Wrath, one of the most progressive films of classic Hollywood; and he preached loyalty yet frequently berated and degraded his actors during the production of his movies, particularly his most famous leading man, John Wayne. Despite all of that, Ford was also contemplative, playful, and a genuine artist. This season of The Plot Thickens has been spent trying to find out what is true about John Ford and what isn’t. It hasn’t been easy getting to the bottom of John Ford, but as you’ll hear, it was worth the trip.”

Meet John Ford, the curmudgeon with an eyepatch who just happened to be the greatest filmmaker of the 20th century.  Ford was a bully and a drunk who ruled Hollywood for five decades, making dozens of seminal movies – though he was incredibly hard to pin down.  His behavior swung wildly from loyalty to cruelty, without notice.  He won more Oscars than any director in history, but never showed up to accept an award.  And he rewrote American history, painting the country with images so beautiful that people wished they were real.  John Ford defined the attitudes of his time, ideas about masculinity and heroism that we’re still grappling with today. This season on The Plot Thickens, TCM brings you Decoding John Ford, a seven-part podcast about cinema’s most mysterious auteur. 

Get the free Podnews newsletter for more like this

Get it free

Part of that mystery is his classified – and missing – WWII film. In 1944, the U.S. military recruited Ford for the assignment of his career: to cover the largest invasion in history. He went to Normandy Beach to film D-Day and created an on-the-ground film detailing the invasion, but the film goes missing. Host Ben Mankiewicz travels to Europe to trace the mystery of whether the D-Day movie exists. The Plot Thickens returns for season 5 on June 6, the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

In honor of the podcast’s release, Turner Classic Movies will air four of Ford’s films on June 5, co-hosted by Ford’s grandson Dan Ford, followed by a 24-hour marathon of WWII-inspired movies on June 6.

In addition, John Ford’s sweeping western, The Searchers (1956), will screen in 70mm at the TCM Classic Film Festival this weekend with a World Premiere Restoration completed by Warner Bros. in collaboration with The Film Foundation.

Previous seasons are available on Apple Podcasts, at, or wherever you get your podcasts.


The Plot Thickens
TCM & Novel
Play trailer

This is a press release which we link to from Podnews, our daily newsletter about podcasting and on-demand. We may make small edits for editorial reasons.

Companies mentioned above:
Apple logoAppleApple Podcasts logoApple Podcasts

This page contains automated links to Apple Podcasts. We may receive a commission for any purchases made.

Get a global view on podcasting and on-demand with our daily news briefing