Twilight Zone: Season 1, Episode 12

What You Need (25 Dec. 1959)
"The Twilight Zone" What You Need (original title)

TV Episode  -   -  Fantasy | Horror | Mystery
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 892 users  
Reviews: 15 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), (based on the short story by), 2 more credits »
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Title: What You Need (25 Dec 1959)

What You Need (25 Dec 1959) on IMDb 8.1/10

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Episode complete credited cast:
Steve Cochran ...
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





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 »


Pedott is shown in the opening scene going from person to person selling odds-and-ends in a bar. He approaches Lefty, who does not know him, whereupon the bartender tells Lefty that "the old coot is in here every night". The bartender later says that Lefty is in the bar "seven nights a week." Since both men are in the bar every night and Pedott tries to sell to everyone, Lefty should have already have been familiar with Pedott. 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 »


Version of Tales of Tomorrow: What You Need (1952) See more »


Written by Stan Tracey
See more »

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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.

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