Hollywood Movies

Director John Ford Is Focus of TCM ‘Plot Thickens’ Podcast

April 18, 20243 Mins Read

John Ford, the iconic director known for such films as Stagecoach, The Grapes of Wrath, My Darling Clementine, The Searchers and much more, will be the subject of the next edition of the TCM podcast The Plot Thickens, it was announced Wednesday.

“Decoding John Ford,” hosted by Ben Mankiewicz, premieres June 6. The fifth season of the podcast, consisting of seven episodes, will feature never-before-heard archival interviews with the likes of John Wayne, Katharine Hepburn, Henry Fonda, James Stewart, Woody Strode and Ford himself.

TCM says Mankiewicz will “strip 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.”

“John Ford is a mercurial figure. Not surprisingly given his stature, the stereotypes about Ford are incomplete,” the host said in a statement. “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 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.”

The podcast also will talk about Ford being sent by the U.S. military to Normandy Beach in 1944 to film D-Day and create an on-the-ground film detailing the invasion. Does that movie exist? Mankiewicz went to Europe to try to get to the bottom of it. (June 6, podcast premiere day, marks the 80th anniversary of D-Day.)

To set up “Decoding John Ford,” TCM will air four of the director’s films, co-hosted by his grandson Dan Ford, on June 5. A 24-hour marathon of World War II-inspired movies will follow the next day.

On Sunday afternoon at the TCM Classic Film Festival, The Searchers (1956) will screen at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood with a 70mm world premiere restoration from Warner Bros. and The Film Foundation.

Ford, who famously wore an eye patch in his later years, received his record four directing Oscars for The Informer (1935), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), How Green Was My Valley (1941) and The Quiet Man (1952) — yet he never showed up to accept any of them.

Previous seasons of The Plot Thickens, which premiered in 2020, centered on Peter Bogdanovich; the making of Brian De Palma’s The Bonfire of the Vanities; Lucille Ball; and Pam Grier.

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