The Whole Truth (The Twilight Zone)

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"The Whole Truth"
The Twilight Zone episode
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 14
Directed by James Sheldon
Written by Rod Serling
Featured music Stock
Production code 173-3666
Original air date January 20, 1961
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"Back There"
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"The Invaders"
List of season 2 episodes
List of Twilight Zone episodes

"The Whole Truth" is episode fifty of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. It originally aired on January 20, 1961 on CBS.


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 pittance. When questioned about the car, the gent admits that the antique contraption is haunted and that the owner is compelled to tell the truth. Laughing this off, Hunnicut buys the jalopy, intending to quickly unload it. To his dismay, he realizes that the previous owner was indeed being truthful, as he himself must now be. 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By being absolutely half-truthful, he sells the car as a potential anti-American propaganda tool, exemplifying shoddy, outdated U.S. automobile workmanship.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, since 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 himself. Hunnicut telephones Washington, asking if he could possibly get in touch with "Jack Kennedy".


Episode notes[edit]

"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 sixteen. 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.[1]

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 can also 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 very 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.

In the Twilight Zone radio drama adaption of this episode, the character of the Soviet premier was replaced with an Emir from the Middle East.

See also[edit]


  • 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

External links[edit]