A small time crook plans to exploit an old street peddler who has the uncanny knack of selling people exactly what they will shortly need.



(teleplay by), (based on the short story by) (as Lewis Padgett) | 1 more credit »

Watch Now

With Prime Video



Episode complete credited cast:
Fred Renard
Read Morgan ...
Girl in Bar (as Arline Sax)
William Edmonson ...
Doris Karnes ...
Fred Kruger ...
Man on Street
Norman Sturgis ...
Hotel Clerk


An old man comes to the same bar every night to peddle his wares. He tells the clients what it is they need before they realize they need it. Moments after telling a washed up major league pitcher he needs a ticket to Scranton, Pennsylvania he gets a phone call offering him a job there. When the old man tells him he needs a pair of scissors, Fred Renard scoff at him but and when his scarf is caught in an elevator door, he's glad the old man was right. Renard, who has wasted most of his 36 years on Earth, decides to capitalize on the old man's gift. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

peddler | scissors | bar | scarf | elevator | See All (25) »





Release Date:

25 December 1959 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


"What You Need" inspired the song of the same name by British post-punk band The Fall from their acclaimed 1985 album 'This Nation's Saving Grace'. See more »


Since Lefty's scarf was not knotted around his neck, all he had to do was turn his body to twist it off. There was no need to use the scissors. See more »


[first lines]
Bartender: You ready for another?
Fred Renard: I'm fine.
Bartender: You've been fine for an hour. We sell booze here, mister. We don't just rent space.
Fred Renard: Is that a fact?
Bartender: That's a fact, buddy.
Fred Renard: How would you like to take a flying jump at the moon?
See more »


Referenced in Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) See more »


Written by Stan Tracey
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

'What you need' is to see this episode.
3 May 2012 | by (Hampshire, England) – See all my reviews

A lot of the action in this tale takes place in a bar that looks almost identical to the drinking establishment from previous episode 'And When The Sky Was Opened', but the two stories couldn't be more different: the earlier tale worked well because its audience knew full well what fate was going to befall its characters, whereas 'What You Need' keeps the viewer guessing with a classic twist ending.

In addition to delivering a terrific 'traditional' Twilight Zone conclusion, this episode also boasts one of my favourite performances of the season so far: Steve Cochran as churlish loser Fred Renard, who harasses kindly street peddler Pedott (Ernest Truex) after he realises that the old man can see into the future and provide people with precisely 'what they need'. Cochran is truly menacing—I'm not at all surprised to find that he originally found fame as a heavy in gangster films, including a role in Cagney classic White Heat.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: