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"What You Need" - Essay #7

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A Many Unusual Christmas Gift: "What You Need" by Michael Martin DeSapioA street peddler who has actually the uncanny ability to provide human being exactly what they require before they need it; an embittered male on the prowl for an escape from his hopeless rut; and also the rain-slicked city roads at night. Around these aspects Rod Serling wove one of the many charming and elegantly crafted tales from The Twilight Zone"s initially season: "What You Need." Originally aired on Christmas Day 1959 (a unique occurrence during the series" run), "What You Need" is an urban fantasy people tale which trades on the far-reaching impacts of ordinary things—bus tickets, scissors, shoes, pens. The episode is well written and also acted, handsomely filmed, and has actually an aura of stylish great taste that was typical of TZ"s initially seachild. Although hardly ever debated, "What You Need" stays a steady favorite among Twilight Zone fans and, because its simplicity conceals the artisattempt that was a hallnote of this series, merits a 2nd look. Stselection as it can seem to asauthorize this quite dark story for broadactors on Christmas Day, the alternative was apt: the episode faces gift-providing and spiritual worths, and its central character is a Santa Claus-favor number. Serling based his script on a brief story by the husband-and-wife composing team of Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore. In adapting the story, Serling adjusted Kuttner and also Moore"s fortune-telling machine to a clairvoyant street peddler, Pedott, that dispenses items from a suitsituation. This relocate is illustrative of Serling"s huguy touch, his tendency not to rely as well greatly on science fiction contrivances. Pedott"s "Santa Claus" top quality (not as explicit as in the case of Lewis J. Bookguy of "One for the Angels," that dispenses his gifts to children) is specifically evident in his giving amethod items complimentary of charge, his only reward the pleacertain of having actually made the perkid happy. Pedott"s "sales" are not a mere mechanism but an authentically huguy transaction, based on looking directly at the perchild and also divining his or her future demands. The episode starts via an developing shot of the city roads accompanied by cool-jazz piano music, and we enter a bar. This is a place wbelow downcast people go to drvery own their sorrows, and also we will satisfy 3 such world in the course of this story. Nevertheless the bar is well lit and well patronized, and also the atmosphere is even more cozy than desolate. (A poster on the wall reading "Nightmare" serves as a foreboding oguys.) We fulfill the bartender, who enjoys sarcastically heckling his consistent customers-among whom is Lefty, an ex-baseball player who was forced to quit his career bereason of a "sour" arm and also currently "looks for a basesphere career in the bottom of a bottle." On the other hand, a namemuch less Girl sits in a side booth, melancholy and also reportedly lonely. The street vendor Pedott (the name argues "peddler" and "Pierrot," the sad clown of commedia dell"arte) enters to offer his wares. The seemingly banal gifts he produces—a bus ticket to Scranton, Pennsylvania for Lefty, a bottle of cleaning liquid for the Girl—impact the recipients in life-transforming ways: giving Lefty transport to a new job, acquiring the spot out of his interview suit, and also kindling a romance. We can note that the cleaning liquid features as a symbol of healing and also cleansing for past misfortune and mistakes."You"re looking at Mr. Fred Renard, that carries on his shoulder a chip the size of the nationwide debt..." All this time we have actually been mindful of the glowering existence in the bar of Fred Renard—"a sour male, a friendless man, a grasping, compulsive, nervous man" (the summary recalls Dickens" Ebeneezer Scrooge). If Pedott represents disinterested goodness, Renard represents human nature"s dark, obsessive, exploitative side. Having watched through interemainder Pedott"s transactions in the bar, Renard confronts him outside and also asks him to give him what he requirements that night. Pedott gives him a pair of scissors: this is the initially of three presents Renard will acquire in the time of the course of the episode, a nod to the standard "three wishes" tool of folklore. Later that night, the scissors end up conserving Renard"s life when his scarf becomes captured in an elevator door. Still later, after Renard shows up uninvited in Pedott"s apartment and needs more things, Pedott (fearful of Renard and also wishing to placate him) comes up via a leaky fountain pen that helps Renard pick out the name of the winning equine in a race. Although both Pedott and Renard dwell on the margins of culture (Renard appears to have actually no occupation besides in search of getting-wealthy schemes), the two men"s mindsets are in stark comparison. Renard is materialistic, dependent, parasitical, in continuous need of sensations and also stimulants; he desires to go into partnership with Pedott-that is, to usage Pedott as a money-making device. Pedott is self-sufficient: "I do not require a companion," he claims, "I do not need anything. I"m content." While Pedott supplies objects to help world, Renard supplies world choose objects. The connection in between the two males says that of addict and also dope peddler. "I simply desire you to keep giving me through what I need," Renard claims feverishly; "Whatever it is, I desire it to store comin". I don"t desire it to stop." As in Ricdifficult Matheson"s episode "Nick of Time," fortune-informing becomes a kind of drug. Pedott, on the various other hand, represents temperance, wisdom and also moderation; he declares that he have to usage his special talent "sparingly." The underlying theme of "What You Need" is gratitude, a acknowledgment of the goodness of life. Renard"s standard sin is ingratitude. In contrast to Pedott, whose totality life is based upon self-giving, Renard is just a taker; he can"t also be bothered to give a reminder to the hotel clerk that brings him his newspaper, despite having actually just won hundreds of dollars on the races. Even after having actually had his life saved by Pedott"s gift of scissors, Renard just reflects up to demand also even more. Serling"s script refoffers to excuse Renard"s actions ssuggest bereason he didn"t get a "fair shake" in life; on the contrary, the economic climate of the Twilight Zone holds him accountable.Everypoint concerns a head in the last "showdown" in between Renard and also Pedott in the street. Renard"s magic pen has run dry, and he is angry at the one-time-just nature of Pedott"s gifts. The resource of Renard"s bitterness and also feeling of entitlement comes out: "I was born under a lousy zodiak or something. I"ve been obtaining the dirty finish of the stick ever before since I was four years old." Pedott states that he is unable to offer Renard the points he really demands, because they are spiroutine in nature. "The points you need many I can not supply. Serenity, peace of mind, humor, the capability to laugh at yourself...patience." At some point "What You Need" is about what every one of us "need": the values that are crucial to sustain our humale visibility, the lasting items of the spirit. Renard, yet, desires immediate gratification. He rummages around in the suitinstance and also picks out a box of shoes, which he proceeds to put on, assuming they will certainly take him where he needs to go. They are a dimension also tiny and also have actually slippery soles. The shoes turn out to be Renard"s demise and Pedott"s salvation: while attempting to come after Pedott, Renard is incapacitated by the leathery soles and the wet pavement and is hit by a speeding auto. In a brief soliloquy, Pedott describes that the shoes were what he (Pedott) necessary, bereason he foresaw that Renard would certainly kill him ("Mr. Renard, what I observed in your eyes at that bar was fatality.") We could note that Renard"s name—French for "fox"—is ironic, given that it is Pedott that "outfoxed" him.The tone ligh10s somewhat for the cshedding scene: a couple has actually been aroused from shardwood by the noise of the accident, and also Pedott takes the opportunity to provide the husband a comb out of his suitinstance. At initially the husband also scoffs at this gift; however a moment later on, the comb turns out to be just what he requirements to groom himself before he and his wife are photographed as witnesses for a newspaper story. The male unthinkingly takes the comb out of his pocket: Serling"s allude around gratitude and recognition is propelled house aobtain. As Rod Serling pronounces his closing narration, we are left via a doleful series of images: the ambulance bearing away Renard"s body, his empty shoes in the street, and the neon lights of the city, as the camera pans approximately the night sky. "Street scene, night. Traffic accident. Victim named Fred Renard, gentleman via a sour challenge to whom contentment came with difficulty. Fred Renard, who took all that was needed—in The Twilight Zone." "What You Need" is best enjoyed without over-analyzing the science-fiction mechanisms at work-the supposedly selective nature of Pedott"s ability to predict the future, for example, or his odd capacity to conjure up objects out of nowhere; or, indeed, why the auto occurred alengthy at exactly the appropriate minute to hit Renard. Nor must one over-think the justice of Renard"s fate; it is clear that Pedott forewitnessed that Renard would attempt to kill him and also acted in self-defense. It"s necessary to note also that Renard himself picked out the shoebox, despite Pedott"s warning—in effect, decided his own fatality. (For that issue, it is never before stated that Renard died; a "hit and also run" might denote a non-fatal accident.)"What You Need" takes place entirely at night, and—as through "The Four of Us Are Dying," "Mirror Image," and also a variety of other episodes—the nocturnal babsence and white photography helps connect The Twilight Zone through film noir and provides this an attractive episode to watch. The scene in the bar is beautitotally filmed, through Alvin Ganzer"s direction and George Clemens" video camera work underlining the scene"s intrigue (Renard"s sinister sidemethods glances at Pedott, Pedott"s beaming throughout the room at the young couple, and so on.). The elevator scene, in which Renard directly escapes fatality by strangulation many thanks to a pair of scissors, deserve to only be described as a nail-biter. The specially created, unobtrusive musical score by Nathan Van Cleave adds to the episode"s setting. The episode boasts 2 first-rate actors in the lead roles: Ercolony Truex and Steve Cochran. Truex began out as a Shakespearean phase actor, appeared in films as much back as 1913, and also ended up being one of Hollywood"s (and also later on television"s) professionals in meek character parts; he would certainly later on star in the emotional third-seakid Twilight Zone episode "Kick the Can." Interestingly, considering his role in "What You Need," Truex was one of the actors considered for the function of Willy Lomale in the original Broadmethod production of Arthur Miller"s Death of a Salesmale (the duty eventually visited Lee J. Cobb). Steve Cochran specialized in film noir, often playing gangsters and heels. One doubter has actually faulted Cochran for overacting in this episode, but in reality his performance-and specifically his facial expressions-offer texture to the character, balancing the predominant menacing cruelty via clues of vulnercapability and loneliness. The Girl and Lefty (Arlene Martel (then attributed as Arline Sax) and Read Morgan) make for an unforgettable vignette, the sweet start of a "salvation through love" story; the couple acts as a foil to the potentially tragic pair of Pedott/Renard and offers the tale an infusion of warmth and hope. Happily, this certain Christmas supplying of Rod Serling"s (coinciding, incidentally, with his thirty-fifth birthday) didn"t come burdened with icicles, Santas, sleighs, and the usual sentipsychological trappings of the holiday. Instead, audiences acquired a gritty morality play, virtue and also vice having actually a showdvery own on the rain-soaked streets of a modern city. The Twilight Zone would go on to create episodes that were more startling and also innovative, much less predictable and also standard than "What You Need"—however few that were as attrenergetic, charming, or comfortingly huguy. To call Michael, sfinish email to michaelmartind