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The award-winning Turner Classic Movies podcast “The Plot Thickens” is ready to take on the Manifest Destiny of filmmaker John Ford.

The new fifth season, titled “Decoding John Ford,” centers on the legendary auteur best known for Westerns like “The Searchers.” Host Ben Mankiewicz dives into the mythology behind Ford’s filmography.

The seven-part podcast also examines Ford’s shelved WWII film that was commissioned by the U.S. military in 1944. Host Ben Mankiewicz travels to Europe to trace the mystery of whether the D-Day movie exists. The season debuts on June 6, the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

The season features never-before-heard archival interviews with stars like John Wayne, Katharine Hepburn, Henry Fonda, James Stewart, Woody Strode, and director Ford himself.

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“John Ford is a mercurial figure. Not surprisingly given his stature, the stereotypes about Ford are incomplete,” TCM Host Ben Mankiewicz said in a release. “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.”

Mankiewicz continued, “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.”

“Decoding John Ford” is co-produced by Novel.

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, Ford’s “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.

“The Plot Thickens” first debuted in May 2020 and focused on Peter Bogdanovich.  Season 2, titled “The Devil’s Candy,” launched in June 2021 and chronicled the tumultuous production of the 1990 film “The Bonfire of the Vanities.” Season 3 uncovered fresh insights into the life and times of the iconic Lucille Ball and debuted in October 2021. Season four explored the life and work of trailblazing actor Pam Grier in fall 2022.

“The Plot Thickens” returns in June 6 with “Decoding John Ford.” Check out the trailer below.



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