Director: James Sheldon
Writer: Rod Serling
Cast: Jack Carson, Loring Smith, George Chandler, Jack Ging, Arte Johnson, Patrick Westwood, Lee Sabinson, and Nan Peterson
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 1/20/1961
Production Code: 173-3666
Silver-tongued car salesman Harvey Hunnicut (Jack Carson) purchases a vehicle, later revealed to be haunted, at what he considers a bargain price. Following the transaction, Hunnicut loses the ability to lie when interacting with potential customers.
By relying on the dishonest politician/used-car salesman trope for laughs, “The Whole Truth” lacks the originality and penetrating insight for which The Twilight Zone is famous. Certain viewers may, however, appreciate this episode for its comedic aspects (e.g. the antics of a second-rate con artist and his protégé, played by Jack Carson and Arte Johnson respectively).
Having been recorded on videotape, “The Whole Truth” was clearly produced on a shoestring budget—a factor that surprisingly works to its advantage. Specifically, the cheap quality of said videotape accentuates, if only by accident, the dilapidated and downright unacceptable condition of Hunnicut’s used car lot.
Carson should be commended for his portrayal of Hunnicut, whose animated, hyperbolic mannerisms add a spirited quality to an otherwise generic salesman. Hunnicut nevertheless comes across as a one-dimensional stereotype, much in contrast to the realistic and compelling characters that one would expect from a narrative written by Rod Serling.
(Spoilers beyond this point)
In order to end his predicament and serve his country in doing so, Hunnicut sells the haunted car to Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. Though clever at the time of filming (“The Whole Truth” was broadcast on the day of John F. Kennedy’s inauguration), the above plot twist will likely be lost on modern audiences.
“The Whole Truth” may appeal to fans of the quirky, enigmatic humor often employed by Serling. Individuals who enjoy The Twilight Zone for its thoughtful and serious commentary, on the other hand, would perhaps be wise to avoid this effort.
Overall Quality: 5/10
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