The Plot Thickens

The Plot Thickens

By TCM & Novel

Our fifth season is Decoding John Ford, a seven-episode series about cinema's most mysterious auteur. Using scores of never-before-heard archival interviews, host Ben Mankiewicz strips back John Ford's self-spun mythology to reveal his brilliance behind the camera – alongside the often ugly, uncomfortable truths about his life and movies, asking whether we can ever truly separate art from the artist. Decoding John Ford starts June 6.


Season 5 Trailer: Decoding John Ford

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. Join host Ben Mankiewicz for a new season of The Plot Thickens, starting June 6. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
18/04/244m 44s

Introducing: Talking Pictures from TCM and Max

While we're hard at work on the next season of The Plot Thickens, we're excited to share Ben Mankiewicz's new podcast, Talking Pictures. The first guest on Talking Pictures is writer director Nancy Meyers (Something’s Gotta Give, It’s Complicated, The Holiday). Recorded at her home, Meyers talks about casting Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton, getting script advice from Sunset Boulevard director Billy Wilder, and what it’s like to become famous for her interiors. Spoiler: it’s frustrating! Nancy Meyers also answers our Super 8 questionnaire and reveals which film had her running from the theater in absolute terror. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
09/02/2452m 54s

From American Masters: Creative Spark: John Waters on the Fine Art of Bad Taste

We’re sharing a bonus episode from our friends at American Masters: Creative Spark, the PBS podcast that goes in-depth with an iconic artist about the creation of a single work. This episode is about John Waters, a filmmaker who loves to break the rules and make you laugh along the way. The iconoclast has been doing just that over the past six decades with provocative and perverse films like Pink Flamingos, Hairspray, and Female Trouble. Now enshrined as the king of transgressive cinema, Waters breaks down the creative process behind his first novel, Liarmouth: A Feel-Bad Romance. This episode includes derogatory epithets used in an artistic context. Listener discretion advised. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
01/05/2318m 46s

Bonus Episode: Donald Bogle and Racquel Gates

Film scholars Racquel Gates and Donald Bogle detail the rise and fall of Blaxploitation, and how Pam Grier transcended the genre and stayed iconic for decades afterwards. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
07/02/2330m 4s

Bonus Episode: Bob Minor & Jadie David

Legendary stunt performers Jadie David and Bob Minor go in-depth about their most dangerous stunts, working with Pam Grier, and breaking through as Black stuntpeople in the early 70s. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
24/01/2318m 10s

Bonus Episode: Jacqueline Stewart

Ben Mankiewicz speaks to TCM host and Director and President of The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Jacqueline Stewart about Pam Grier's star image, the legacy of Blaxploitation, and meeting Pam at the TCM Classic Film Festival. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
10/01/2333m 47s

Bonus Episode: Quentin Tarantino

More from Ben Mankiewicz’s interview with Quentin Tarantino, who speaks about making Jackie Brown, enjoying Blaxploitation, and first seeing Pam when he was an impressionable 10 year-old boy. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
13/12/2236m 53s

Ms. Jackie Brown

After receiving a devastating diagnosis, Pam leaves Hollywood and heads home to Colorado. But she’s lured back into the spotlight when the hottest director in Hollywood gives her the role of a lifetime. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
06/12/2250m 54s

I’m Gonna Die For Paul Newman

Pam finds love on a movie set when she’s cast opposite superstar comedian Richard Pryor. She sets out to change Richard’s self-destructive ways, and succeeds – for a little while. She then immerses herself in a difficult new role, a role that gives her nightmares but could spark a comeback. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
29/11/2252m 35s

Looking Good

As the Blaxploitation craze comes to an end, Pam fights for better roles and hobnobs with the biggest names in showbiz. She meets the love of her life, a hot young comedian named Freddie Prinze -- whose personal demons lead to heartbreak and tragedy. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
22/11/2242m 18s

Bonus: Pam Grier in Italy

Pam is almost killed when a horse goes wild on the set of a gladiator movie. But instead of losing her life, she meets a new friend, who just happens to be one of the most famous filmmakers in the world. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
18/11/229m 46s

The Queen of Blaxploitation

Pam’s career hits new heights as Black-themed movies take the country by storm. She stars in four low-budget films in the span of one year, including two bonafide hits: Coffy and Foxy Brown. Yet her celebrity is tied to controversy, as Blaxploitation gets criticized by the Black community and snubbed by the Hollywood establishment. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
15/11/2248m 37s

An Actor Prepares

Pam heads to the Philippines to star in a pair of “women in prison” movies, where she endures volatile weather, skimpy costumes, and cobra encounters. She studies acting and learns everything she can about filmmaking, and her raw talent is soon recognized on the set. But Pam’s relationship with Kareem is tested when his religious convictions clash with her feminist ideals. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
08/11/2250m 20s

I'm Not From Here

Newly arrived in Los Angeles, Pam learns underground filmmaking at UCLA and sings backup for some of the biggest musical acts of the 60s. She also has her first serious romance, with a towering basketball phenom named Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Then, a chance audition for a low-budget movie leads to Pam’s first opportunity in front of the camera, as an actor. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
01/11/2243m 54s

The Black West

Growing up in Colorado, young Pam Grier endures racism and trauma, but finds solace in horses and the beautiful countryside. As a teen, she visits Los Angeles for the first time, and gets caught in the middle of the historic Watts Rebellion. But after winning a beauty pageant, she meets a Hollywood agent who encourages her to give L.A. a second chance. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
25/10/2247m 36s

Season 4 Trailer: Here Comes Pam

This is the story of Pam Grier as only she can tell it. Her sudden stardom, her iconic roles, her fights against the system. It’s a story of bravery, both onscreen and off. It’s a story about race in Hollywood and race in America. And it’s a story about how real life is a lot messier than the movies. Pam Grier joins host Ben Mankiewicz for a new season of The Plot Thickens, starting October 25. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
04/10/224m 50s

From Revisionist History: Star Struck

We’re sharing a bonus episode from our friends at Revisionist History, Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast about things misunderstood and overlooked. This season, Malcolm’s obsessed with experiments – natural experiments, scientific experiments, thought experiments. In this episode, Malcolm explores a legendary Hollywood mogul, a famous author, a fatal drunk driving accident, and a brilliant bit of screenwriting left on the cutting room floor. Revisionist History engages in a pop culture what-if experiment about the 1937 version of A Star is Born.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
26/07/2238m 41s

Bonus Episode: J.K. Simmons

Ben Mankiewicz speaks with the Oscar-winning actor about playing William Frawley in Being the Ricardos, and how Frawley's tumultuous relationship with Vivian Vance informed the characters of Fred and Ethel Mertz. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
01/02/2224m 56s

Bonus Episode: Carol Burnett, Kate Flannery and Kate Micucci

Ben Mankiewicz speaks to three celebrity fans about how they were influenced by Lucille Ball, Lucy’s incredible talent for physical comedy, and why I Love Lucy is still beloved today. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
25/01/2232m 50s

Bonus Episode: Aaron Sorkin

Ben Mankiewicz speaks to Aaron Sorkin, the writer-director of Being the Ricardos, about what drew him to Lucy’s story, Lucy and Desi’s intense relationship, and the danger they faced when HUAC thought Lucy was a communist.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
11/01/2232m 5s

Bonus Episode: Lucie Arnaz

More from Ben Mankiewicz's fascinating interview with Lucie Arnaz, who speaks about working with her mom, growing up on the RKO studio lot, and what made I Love Lucy special. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
21/12/2125m 48s


Lucy sinks into a depression after the failure of her newest show and becomes a reclusive, fiercely competitive backgammon player. Yet she's still revered, and following a memorable final appearance at the Academy Awards, her heart gives out. As the memorials pour in, the public clamors to learn everything about her life, while those closest to her wonder if they ever really knew her at all. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
14/12/2158m 12s

Boss Lady

Escaping Hollywood after her split, Lucy heads east for a chance to star on Broadway. There she meets a new man, a Borscht Belt comedian with a bad toupee and even worse business sense. The new couple returns to Hollywood when Lucy takes on a surprising new role: as the first female head of a major studio. But she still prefers acting, and makes plans to return to the big screen – with disastrous results. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
07/12/2148m 21s

The End of Desilu

Lucy and Desi's studio expands as they buy the RKO lot and produce new shows under the Desilu banner. The strain of running an empire takes its toll, and Desi falls further into gambling, drinking and philandering as a refuge from work. Lucy doubles down on her career, but after shooting a tearful final episode of her signature TV show, her marriage reaches its breaking point. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
30/11/2155m 8s

Red Scare

At the height of Lucy’s popularity, the government kicks off a political investigation that threatens to ruin her career. Why had Lucy registered as a communist 20 years earlier? On the verge of her being blacklisted, Desi goes on the offensive to save his wife and their livelihood. But his infidelities soon become tabloid fodder, and their love affair begins to crumble in full view of the public.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
23/11/2142m 58s

I Love Lucy

With a TV deal from CBS, Desi assembles a ragtag team of collaborators to make a new kind of program, one that would rewrite the rules of television. And they do it while hiding Lucy’s newest surprise: after ten years of trying, she’s about to have a baby. The result is the biggest hit in TV history, one that showcases Lucy's fearlessness and comic timing, and she becomes beloved by millions of fans from coast to coast. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
16/11/2152m 34s


From the start, Lucy and Desi fight as fiercely as they love. After a spur-of-the-moment elopement, the newlyweds buy a small ranch north of Hollywood and call it “Desilu.” They suffer miscarriages and career setbacks, which causes Desi to take his band on the road – where he frequently cheats on his wife. Lucy considers divorce, but when a TV offer comes in, she uses her stardom to keep Desi by her side. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
09/11/2148m 36s


Forced from his native Cuba by violent revolution, 17-year-old Desi Arnaz is a stranger in a strange land. Armed with an appetite for girls and gambling, Desi sparks a dance craze in the nightclubs of Miami and sweet-talks his way into New York society. After a syphilis scare threatens his Broadway debut, his ambition leads him to Hollywood, where his head is turned by an older actress named Lucy. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
02/11/2146m 46s


For her first movie role, Lucy wears a flesh-toned bodysuit and waist-length blonde wig while chained to a rock. But her clowning on set gets her noticed, and she begins to land larger and larger parts. Soon she signs with RKO Pictures where she's mentored by Ginger Rogers’ demanding and powerful mother, Lela. She also meets a young Cuban musician, the man who would become her closest partner both on and off the screen.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
26/10/2148m 13s

New York City

Lucy heads back to Broadway where she meets her first girlboss: fashion baroness Hattie Carnegie, who hires Lucy to model coats and dresses for New York high society. But a mysterious ailment sends Lucy home to Jamestown, followed by a bizarre medical treatment. Still determined to make it in the big city, Lucy returns to Manhattan one more and is discovered on the streets, landing the role that would kickstart her career. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
19/10/2144m 22s


In a small town in New York, young Lucille Ball becomes enamored with showbiz after watching vaudeville acts and silent movies at the amusement park near her home. As a teenager, she falls for a handsome 21-year-old bootlegger, and is promptly shipped off to drama school in New York City. But Lucy soon returns home as a life-altering tragedy threatens to tear apart her family.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
12/10/2148m 25s

Season 3 Trailer: Lucy

From her early years as a model to her triumphant takeover of television, this is the story of Lucille Ball, as never heard before. Join host Ben Mankiewicz as he delves into the private world of America’s funniest redhead and hear for yourself the many triumphs and tragedies, with surprising revelations at every turn. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
07/09/214m 19s

The Devil’s Candy Bonus Episode

Author Julie Salamon joins TCM Host Alicia Malone for a revealing interview about what you didn’t hear during our second season of The Plot Thickens. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
24/08/2145m 6s

You’ve Got to be a Genius to Make a Movie This Bad

The Bonfire of the Vanities tanks with both critics and the moviegoing public. Brian De Palma leads the autopsy, trying to understand how all these smart people made all the wrong decisions. The only upside is for Julie Salamon, whose book on the production is instantly hailed as a modern classic. But even that success comes at a price, as not everyone is thrilled to be immortalized by the book. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
10/08/2148m 47s

The Best Movie We Ever Made

With production now in Los Angeles, Brian De Palma feels the pressure from prying studio executives – and from Bruce Willis, who starts directing other actors on how to be funnier. De Palma gets some much-needed encouragement from his friend Steven Spielberg, who is an old pro at playing the Hollywood game. Then, as post-production ramps up, studio heads see a first cut and love the film, though they have no idea how to market it. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
03/08/2143m 17s

Hollywood Heat

As production moves to Los Angeles, the specter of sexism clouds the movie. Rumors swirl among the crew about Melanie Griffith’s plastic surgery, Kim Cattrall's weight loss, and an affair between actress Beth Broderick and director Brian De Palma. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
27/07/2136m 56s

Wire Without a Net

The cast shows its true colors: some are easygoing and relatable, but not Bruce Willis. The New York shoot spirals over budget as the courtroom scene can only be shot at night, and the film’s entire opening is scrapped in favor of the most expensive Steadicam shot ever devised. Meanwhile, Bronx residents show up to throw garbage at the filmmakers, and one irate New Yorker confronts Brian De Palma directly. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
20/07/2144m 29s

The War Zone

Shooting hasn't even started and the movie is already under attack. Detailed leaks and star outbursts are reported daily by a hungry press. Bit parts, courtroom locations, snippets of dialogue, even a single shot of a plane landing at JFK – every little decision becomes a battle as the crew preps for filming. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
13/07/2143m 25s

Reaching for the Stars – and Paying the Price

As Tom Hanks researches his role, nobody recognizes how wrong he is for the part. There's more immediate pushback against the casting of Bruce Willis, since his part was written as British. But the hardest decision comes when the director insists that a Jewish judge be played by a Black actor, to soften the film’s racial tensions. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
06/07/2142m 50s

Lighting the Fire

One decision could make or break The Bonfire of the Vanities: who will play the female lead? It comes down to two actresses – established, expensive Melanie Griffith or an unknown, alluring 19 year-old named Uma Thurman. Suddenly the producer, Peter Guber, vanishes from the scene, departing both the movie and the studio in a whirl of bad publicity. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
29/06/2149m 21s

Introducing The Devil's Candy

A blockbuster book, an all-star cast... what could possibly go wrong? For our second season, we're telling the inside story of The Bonfire of the Vanities, a movie that was supposed to be a hit – but wasn't. Come with us onto the closed set and hear actual recordings of Brian De Palma, Tom Hanks, Melanie Griffith and others, to find out how a highly-anticipated film became a cautionary tale for the ages. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
09/06/215m 54s

The Plot Thickens Returns This Summer

We've got two new seasons coming your way in 2021, and the first is dropping soon.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
05/05/212m 17s

The Plot Thickens Virtual Event

TCM host Alicia Malone hosts a conversation with Peter Bogdanovich and Ben Mankiewicz, who share memorable stories and answer questions from listeners about Season 1 of The Plot Thickens. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
02/11/2031m 38s

Henry Fonda, John Wayne and James Stewart

Highlights from Peter Bogdanovich’s interviews with three of Hollywood’s biggest movie stars, who talk about the unique challenges of working with director and legendary curmudgeon John Ford. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
14/07/2029m 8s

Alfred Hitchcock

Peter Bogdanovich sits down with one of his filmmaking heroes, Alfred Hitchcock, for a wide-ranging conversation about Psycho, Vertigo, North by Northwest, Rear Window and more. Plus, Hitchcock shares stories about being arrested as a child, appearing in his own movies, and why he doesn’t like eggs. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
30/06/2031m 0s

Howard Hawks

For our first bonus episode, Peter Bogdanovich interviews director Howard Hawks in the Palm Springs desert in April 1972. Hawks tells Peter how he got started in showbiz and provides insight into many of his best movies, including Rio Bravo, The Dawn Patrol, His Girl Friday, Hatari! and Scarface. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
16/06/2029m 40s

I’m Still Peter Bogdanovich

Grief-stricken for years, Peter finally goes back behind the camera and ends up shooting one of his most popular films. But he sues the studio before the movie is released, further endangering his career. While trying to recover, Peter once again becomes a target of the press after he marries Dorothy’s sister. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
02/06/2046m 41s


Alone for the first time, Peter finds love in an unexpected place: the Playboy Mansion. His passionate romance with Playmate Dorothy Stratten ignites his creativity, culminating in his best movie in years. But Peter’s life is forever changed by a devastating murder and a series of disastrous financial decisions. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
26/05/2049m 3s

Bogdanovich, The Misunderstood

Feeling betrayed, Orson Welles humiliates Peter on national television. So Peter heads overseas to shoot a daring new movie, filming in secret to evade government censors. While his career starts to recover, he embarks on an affair with his new leading lady – causing his relationship with Cybill to crumble. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
19/05/2040m 52s

Babe Ruth Just Bunted

Following The Last Picture Show, Peter directs two more major hits, What’s Up, Doc? and Paper Moon. But then his wife leaves him, and his next three movies are high-profile flops. As his relationship with Cybill is splashed across the tabloids, Peter finds himself despised by the public and ostracized in Hollywood. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
12/05/2052m 24s


Peter challenges himself to film an “unfilmmable” book and creates one of the seminal movies of the 1970s: The Last Picture Show. His actors win Academy Awards and the accolades pour in, including comparisons to Orson Welles himself. But Peter risks losing his family after an affair with his leading lady, Cybill Shepherd. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
05/05/2039m 16s

Target: Hollywood

Peter meets Polly Platt, his closest creative collaborator – and soon, his young wife. The newlyweds drive across the country to break into the movie business, starting with a low-budget directing gig for Roger Corman. And Peter finally encounters Orson Welles, who becomes an important mentor to the eager young filmmaker. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
28/04/2030m 42s


A young film buff named Peter Bogdanovich grows up in New York, learning to obsess over the movies the way his father obsesses over art. With his sights set on acting, Peter lies his way into the most prestigious acting class in the world. That’s where he unexpectedly finds his calling as a director – by sparring with one of the biggest TV stars of all time. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
28/04/2034m 56s

Bonus Trailer: I'm Still Peter Bogdanovich

Learn more about the first season of The Plot Thickens, the new podcast from Turner Classic Movies. The first two episodes premiere on April 28. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
14/04/206m 30s

Introducing The Plot Thickens

Peter Bogdanovich was a young cinephile who quickly rose to become one of Hollywood's top directors. But he soon found himself a victim of jealousy, hubris, public scorn – and a devastating crime. Now, he looks back on a life of fame and failure, and through it all, an enduring love of the movies. A new seven-part documentary podcast from Turner Classic Movies. Premiering April 28. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
26/03/204m 0s
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