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
When the leaky pen drips ink on the newspaper, indicating which horse Renard should bet on, if you look closely you will see among the names of the jockeys Clemens, Houghton, Denault and Serling; George T. Clemens was the director of photography in this episode, Buck Houghton was producer, Edward O. Denault was assistant director, and Rod Serling created it. 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 »
Cleaning fluid, a bus ticket, a leaking pen, whatever it might be - he knows what you need.
Based on a short story by Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore, this episode of The Twilight Zone is all about a peddler named Pedott who travels around the streets and bars in the evening and seems to be able to give people exactly what they need (hence the episode being named "What You Need"). When Fred Renard (played by Steve Cochran) sees the man at work he realises that this could be the way to reverse the bad luck that has plagued his life. But once you get what you need and your luck IS changed then, well, you no longer need anything else. Just how will Fred be able to keep exploiting the situation for his own gain?
Directed by Alvin Ganzer, this is a nice, gentle tale that manages to mix intrigue with the supernatural element and some great characters. Arlene Martel and Read Morgan are both very good as a couple of bar patrons who are given what they need, Ernest Truex is wonderful as Pedott, happy to help everyone he meets in seemingly small ways. Steve Cochran plays Fred Renard with a great mix of menace and cockiness, it's clear that he thinks he has found a good thing that he never has to see escape his greedy clutches.
From start to finish, this has a nice feel that places the events squarely in The Twilight Zone, which is as it should be, of course. The main dynamic between Renard and Pedott is the same as the dynamic between any greedy thug and the mark that he wants to squeeze dry but Pedott's ability ensures some wonderful twists and turns as the episode builds up to a great punchline with a lovely little coda to top everything off.
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