The Whole Truth (The Twilight Zone)

The Whole Truth (The Twilight Zone)

Infobox Television episode
Title = The Whole Truth
Series = The Twilight Zone

Caption = Jack Carson, Jack Ging and Nan Peterson in "The Whole Truth"
Season = 2
Episode = 50
Airdate =January 20, 1961
Production = 173-3666
Writer =Rod Serling
Director =James Sheldon
Guests =Jack Carson : Harvey Hunnicut
Loring Smith : Honest Luther Grimbley
George Chandler : Car selling old Man
Jack Ging : Young car buyer
Nan Peterson : Young car buyer's wife
Arte Johnson : Irv
Patrick Westwood : The Premier's Aide
Lee Sabinson : The Premier
Music = none credited
Episode list = List of Twilight Zone episodes
Prev = Back There
Next = The Invaders

"The Whole Truth" is an episode of the American television anthology series "The Twilight Zone".

Opening narration

As the Old Man drives his Model A car into Harvey Hunnicut's lot and gets out, the camera pans to the right to reveal Rod Serling standing four steps up on the landing of Hunnicutt's office:


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. The old gent warns Hunnicut, however, that the antique contraption is haunted and that the owner is compelled to tell the truth. Laughing off such superstitious nonsense, Hunnicut buys the jalopy, intending to quickly unload it. To his dismay, he quickly realizes that the vehicle's previous owner was indeed being truthful, as he, himself, must now always be.

After a series of vain attempts to sell his substandard merchandise, Hunnicut comes to the conclusion 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By being absolutely half-truthful, he sells the car as a potential anti-American propaganda tool, exemplifying shoddy, outdated U.S. automobile workmanship.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 will now be considered the haunted vehicle's official owner. It appears to be none other than Khrushchev himself.

Closing narration

Preview for Next Week's Story

Episode notes

Five weeks into "The Twilight Zone"'s second season, the show's budget was showing a deficit. The total number of new episodes was projected at twenty-nine, more than half of which, sixteen, had, by November 1960, already been filmed. CBS suggested that in order to trim the production's $65,000 per episode budget, six episodes should be produced in the cheaper videotape format and then transferred to 16-millimeter film. The studios of the network's Television City, normally used for the production of live drama, would serve as the venue. There would be fewer camera movements and no exteriors, making the episodes seem more akin to soap operas, with the videotaped image effectively narrowing and flattening perspective. Even with those artistic sacrifices, the eventual savings amounted to only $30,000, far less than the cost of a single episode. The experiment was thus deemed a failure and never attempted again.

This episode shows an artifact 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.

Even though the six shows were taped in a row, through November and into mid-December, their broadcast dates were out of order and varied widely, with this, the third one, shown on January 20, 1961 as episode 14. The first, "The Lateness of the Hour" was seen on December 2, 1960 as episode 8; the second, "Static" appeared on March 10, 1961 as episode 20; the fourth was the Christmas entry "Night of the Meek" shown as the 11th episode on December 23, 1960; the fifth, "Twenty Two" was seen on February 10, 1961 as episode 17; and the last one, "Long Distance Call" was transmitted on March 3, 1961 as episode 22.

*James Sheldon directed hundreds of TV episodes over a nearly-four-decade career, starting with live dramas at the beginning of the 1950s. He helmed six "TZ" installments, including two of the six videotaped ones, the other one being "Long Distance Call". All of his episodes aired within a sixteen-month period, between January 1961 and May 1962 and included another second season entry, "A Penny for Your Thoughts", and three third season assignments, "It's a Good Life" (again working with Billy Mumy, following "Long Distance Call"), "Still Valley" and "I Sing the Body Electric".

*Loring Smith (1890-1981), the exuberant comic actor portraying Honest Luther Grimbley, the city alderman who, quite understandably, decides not to buy the honesty-enforcing automobile, spent five decades as a stage and radio character performer with occasional small parts in films and TV. In his seventies, near the end of his career, he appeared in two "TZ" episodes, the other one being fourth season's "I Dream of Genie".

*Nan Peterson, an attractive blonde actress, played mainly decorative roles in some twenty TV shows and four films during a five-year period between 1959 and 1964. She had the title role in the low-budget 1959 independent "Louisiana Hussy" and is remembered by genre fans as one of the two female leads in two other small-scale productions—1959's "The Hideous Sun Demon" and 1963's Ed Wood-scripted "Shotgun Wedding". She has virtually no dialogue in her four "TZ" appearances, which are spread from the beginning to the end of her brief acting career. In one of her first acting performances, she calls out to her child near the merry-go-round in first season's memorable fifth episode "Walking Distance". Fifteen months later, she and Jack Ging here play a young couple planning to start their married life with the unfortunate choice of Harvey Hunnicut's dealership as a potential automobile purchase venue. Her third appearance is in the episode videotaped immediately after this one, "TZ"'s only Christmas entry, "The Night of the Meek", where she is little more than an extra, sitting at the bar, next to a sleeping drunk. Finally, after a passage of three years, in February 1964, she makes her final screen appearance in fifth season's "From Agnes—With Love", where her bit as a secretary is so small, she doesn't even rate inclusion in the end credits.

*The opening narration of this episode repeats a line, used in the first season episode Execution. The line "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," is a variation on "Mr. Joe Caswell, who, when the good Lord passed out a conscience, a heart, a feeling for fellow men, must have been out for a beer and missed out," from that episode.


*DeVoe, Bill. (2008). "Trivia from The Twilight Zone". Albany, GA: Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1593931360
*Grams, Martin. (2008). "The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic". Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0970331090

External links

*imdb title|id=0734681|title=The Whole Truth
* [ episode page]
* [ Full video of the episode at]

Twilight Zone links

*The Twilight Zone (1959 TV series)
*Episode List
*Season 2

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