Honesty Day: 8 movies where the truth set people free

Today is Honesty Day, and that means one thing: we're on the hunt for classic movies where telling the truth paid off, big time.

Scroll down to read our blog list, and don't forget to share your own favourites with us on social media.

1. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

We're beginning our list with a James Stewart classic, one that preaches the value of honesty and truth without ever becoming too earnest or sentimental.

In the second of his three movies with director Frank Capra, Stewart plays an idealistic American senator who takes on the might of the establishment. But he doesn't do so with weaponry: rather, he uses words and good, old-fashioned decency to win the day. Given the politics is so often portrayed as venal and corrupt, the optimism of Capra and Stewart's vision is a breath of fresh air.

2. Pinocchio (1940)

Disney's classic animated fable is the heart-wrenching story of a wooden puppet who desires to become a real boy. Pinocchio's lies manifest in the form of an elongated nose, but in the end, the character's inherently truthful nature sees him rewarded.

After Pinocchio apparently dies during the climactic battle with the whale known as Monstro, the Blue Fairy gives him what his heart desires. She transforms him into a flesh and blood human, to the delight of his human 'father' Geppetto.

3. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

This adaptation of Roald Dahl's classic book deviated from the novel so much, it left the author enraged. Nevertheless, these changes make it perfect for our Honesty Day list.

The essential set-up is the same: good-natured, poor kid Charlie (Peter Ostrum) wins a golden ticket to tour the chocolate factory of the mysterious Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder). Where the movie deviates, however, is in the subterfuge plot whereby Charlie is encouraged to steal trade secrets on behalf of one of Wonka's rivals.

This didn't happen in the book, and, as it turns out, it was all staged to test Charlie's truthful nature. Ultimately, he passes with flying colours, and inherits the factory from Wonka.

4. Jerry Maguire (1996)

What happens when the temptation to come clean costs you your job and your exclusive client list? That's the premise of Cameron Crowe's delightful Jerry Maguire, which exploits star Tom Cruise's grin to intriguing effect – it is, by turns, smug and disingenuous, showing us a man who has allowed success to cloud his moral judgment.

When sports agent Jerry experiences a crisis of conscience, his life appears to be over. But in the aftermath, he's redeemed by his one remaining client Rod Tidwell (an exuberant, Oscar-winning Cuba Gooding Jr.), and the love of his former office worker Dorothy (Renee Zellweger). "You had me at hello" is the classic quote that underlines the movie's themes of truth and honesty.

5. Liar, Liar (1997)

Rubber-faced comic Jim Carrey plays a slick lawyer forced to tell the truth in this blockbusting comedy. Truthfully, the high-concept premise is little more than an excuse to unleash Carrey's mugging sensibilities, before it all gives way to the inevitably sentimental climax.

Even so, it's great fun watching Carrey at the height of his physical powers. His character, Fletcher Reed, has a tendency to repeatedly let down his young son, so the boy makes a birthday wish that means his dad can never tell a lie. Although Fletcher initially struggles, his new truth-based abilities win him an important court case and, more importantly, the love and respect of his son. Awww.

6. Nanny McPhee (2005)

Honesty lies at the heart of Emma Thompson's adaptation of Christianna Brand's story, Nurse Matilda. Thompson writes and stars as the eponymous Nanny McPhee, a snaggle-toothed variation on Mary Poppins who manifests to bring some discipline to some naughty children.

As the kids learn to appreciate the values of honesty and integrity, McPhee's appearance starts to change. She loses the wizened old crone appearance, gradually changing into the Emma Thompson we recognise, a physical representation of truth and decency. As she says in the end: "When you need me, but do not want me, then I must stay. When you want me, but no longer need me, then I have to go."

7. Inside Out (2015)

How do we arrive at a moment of honesty? What is the process that goes on within our own heads? That intriguing conceit lies at the heart of Disney-Pixar's extraordinary Inside Out, which gives physical life to our intangible emotions.

The movie is essentially a psychological coming-of-age story, as young girl Riley struggles with a move to a new city, San Francisco. Of course, her conflicted nature is being governed by her disparate group of emotions: Fear, Anger, Sadness, Joy and Disgust.

Only when Joy (Amy Poehler) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) finally begin to work together can Riley come clean to her loving parents about what she's feeling. It's surely the most universal, relatable concept in Disney-Pixar's catalogue of movies.

8. Knives Out (2019)

Rian Johnson's deviously entertaining whodunit hinges on a brilliant central joke: what if telling a lie makes you vomit? It brings a hilariously quirky, gross-out factor to a stylish, star-studded movie that openly acknowledges the presence of genre master Agatha Christie.

When debonair investigator Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is summoned to solve a mysterious death, he finds an ally in the form of Marta (Ana de Armas). She was the devoted nurse of the deceased, Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), and Blanc swiftly deduces that her physical inability to lie will come in handy during the investigation.

The puke-strewn punchline where the killer is ultimately revealed only seals the movie as one of the most entertaining and ingenious in recent memory.

What are your favourite honesty movies? Let us know @Cineworld.