The Twilight Zone: Season 1, Episode 12

What You Need (25 Dec. 1959)

TV Episode  |  TV-PG  |   |  Fantasy, Horror, Mystery
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 1,215 users  
Reviews: 16 user | 3 critic

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) , 2 more credits »
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Title: What You Need (25 Dec 1959)

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Episode complete credited cast:
Fred Renard
Ernest Truex ...
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 (24) »





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 »


Right after the old man Pedott first comes into the bar, the camera changes to a shot of Renard sitting at the bar. For several seconds, the frames are running backward (you can see smoke coming down to the cigarette instead of rising up from it). 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 »

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User Reviews

What Do You Need?
24 November 2013 | by (Ireland) – See all my reviews

At the beginning this story focuses on Lefty (Read Morgan), a former baseball pitcher drowning his sorrow in a bar, and what he needs. There is also a girl (Arlene Martel- mysterious nurse in season two's Twenty Two) whose need happily makes her path and Lefty's cross. The peddler, who knows which little item can lead a person to help bring their life meaningfully together, then disappears from the bar. This is because Fred Rennard, a charmless, malevolent loser is watching him.

Steve Cochrane who played gangster roles opposite James Cagney and Joan Crawford in the early fifties plays Rennard. This is a very good little morality tale about the importance of using things not people. Also how little it would take to put one's life on a happy path providing you take a droplet of good fortune with a virtuous approach.

Sorry if I'm sounding a bit preachy, but I love to find meaning in the Zone.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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