The Whole Truth (The Twilight Zone)
|"The Whole Truth"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Directed by||James Sheldon|
|Written by||Rod Serling|
|Original air date||January 20, 1961|
|“||This, as the banner already has proclaimed, is Mr. Harvey Hunnicut, an expert on commerce and con jobs, a brash, bright, and larceny-loaded wheeler and dealer who, when the good Lord passed out a conscience, must have gone for a beer and missed out. And these are a couple of other characters in our story: a little old man and a Model A car - but not just any old man and not just any Model A. There's something very special about the both of them. As a matter of fact, in just a few moments, they'll give Harvey Hunnicut something that he's never experienced before. Through the good offices of a little magic, they will unload on Mr. Hunnicut the absolute necessity to tell the truth. Exactly where they come from is conjecture, but as to where they're heading for, this we know, because all of them - and you - are on the threshold of the Twilight Zone.||”|
The dealership of glib, used-car salesman Harvey Hunnicut is visited by a mild-mannered elderly gentleman who offers to sell his vintage Model A car for a small fee. When questioned about the car, the older man admits that the antique contraption is haunted and Hunnicut will not like it. Laughing this off, Hunnicut buys the jalopy, intending to quickly unload it. To his dismay, he realizes that he is no longer able to lie. He tells a young couple, prospective buyers, that all the cars on his lot are lemons and they should buy from a respectable dealership instead. When explaining to his wife why he's going to be home late, he openly states that he intends to play poker with his friends. When Irv, his employee, asks about the raise he was promised, Harvey confesses he always strings his workers along without ever giving raises. Irv punches Harvey out and quits.
Hunnicut concludes that his livelihood depends on his ability to rid himself of this supernatural burden. Just as he's losing hope of ever doing so, he sees a newspaper story about the U.S. playing host to visiting Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. Surmising that, like every totalitarian state, the Soviet Union owes its existence to a tissue of lies, the politically savvy Hunnicut calls the Soviet embassy and convinces its representatives to visit his dealership. By being absolutely half-truthful, he sells the car as a potential anti-American propaganda tool, exemplifying shoddy, outdated U.S. automobile workmanship. By the concluding scene, it seems that Hunnicut is about to change the course of history because the passenger watching the sale from the embassy limousine now has his name on paper as the haunted vehicle's owner. It appears to be none other than Khrushchev. Hunnicut telephones Washington, asking if he could possibly get in touch with "Jack Kennedy".
|“||Couldn't happen, you say? Far-fetched? Way-out? Tilt-of-center? Possible. But the next time you buy an automobile, if it happens to look as if it had just gone through the Battle of the Marne, and the seller is ready to throw into the bargain one of his arms, be particularly careful in explaining to the boss about your grandmother's funeral, when you are actually at Chavez Ravine watching the Dodgers. It'll be a fact that you are the proud possessor of an instrument of truth - manufactured and distribued by an exclusive dealer - in The Twilight Zone.||”|
- Jack Carson as Harvey Hunnicut
- Loring Smith as Honest Luther Grimbley
- George Chandler as car-selling, old man
- Jack Ging as young car buyer
- Nan Peterson as young car buyer's wife
- Arte Johnson as Irv
- Patrick Westwood as the premier's aide
- Lee Sabinson as the premier
"The Whole Truth" was one of six Twilight Zone episodes shot on videotape instead of film in an attempt to cut costs. By November 1960, The Twilight Zone's season two had already broadcast five episodes and finished filming 16. However, at a cost of about $65,000 per episode, the show was exceeding its budget. As a result, six consecutive episodes were videotaped at CBS Television City and eventually transferred to 16-millimeter film ["kinescoped"] for syndicated rebroadcasts. Total savings on editing and cinematography amounted to around $30,000 for all six entries, not enough to justify the loss of depth of visual perspective, which made the shows look like stage-bound live TV dramas (e.g. Playhouse 90, also produced at CBS). The experiment was deemed a failure and never attempted again.
This episode shows an unwanted effect of the image orthicon tube used in television cameras of the era. When the shiny fenders of the cars catch the light, the glint produces an unwanted dark halo around the glint. Such occurrences also can be seen in "The Night of the Meek".
John F. Kennedy was sworn in as the 35th president of the United States at the inaugural ceremonies held in Washington the afternoon of the day this episode originally aired. Therefore, Jack Carson's final line was not only a very topical one, it was one of the rare times that a current president was actually mentioned during a Twilight Zone episode.
- DeVoe, Bill. (2008). Trivia from The Twilight Zone. Albany, GA: Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1-59393-136-0
- Grams, Martin. (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9703310-9-0