The Whole Truth (The Twilight Zone)

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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

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

Contents

Synopsis

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By being absolutely half-truthful, he sells the car as a potential anti-American propaganda tool, exemplifying shoddy, outdated U.S. automobile workmanship.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. Hunnicut then telephones Washington, asking if he could possibly get in touch with "Jack...Kennedy?".

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, eventually 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 (and Playhouse 90), 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.

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