"Vacancy for Death" stars Joan Blondell as a woman married to a bad man.
One of the first things that will come to your attention about "Vacancy for Death" is that it has a soundtrack instead of Suspense's usual blistering organ accompaniment. Since we aren't obligated to wince and cover our ears at the beginning of this episode, there is a smoother transition from the credits to the opening scenes.
As the episode opens, we pan across a group of trash cans outside a Los Angeles boarding house while "You Made Me Love You" plays in the background. One of the trash cans has a rag doll perched on its top. Right away, we ask ourselves: Does that mean something?
After we see the panarama of the trash cans, we see Mrs. Clara Warren, (Blondell), pacing nervously in front of her cheap boarding house and its trash cans. It is a hot evening and she looks anxious. Pacing, looking anxious, and dabbing the sweat from her brow with a hanky is what she does the most of in this episode. So much so, that you may lose trust that this is all going somewhere, but don't worry, it is.
Clara is waiting for her husband, Sam, and his associate, JoJo, to come back from the airport. The three of them have a "business" where they arrange for accidents to happen to the occupants of Clara's boarding house. Sam and JoJo have gone there to pick up their next unsuspecting victim, Mr. Addams. Don't let their jaunty bow-ties fool you. These are bad men.
At the airport, where smoking is permitted just about everwhere, they grab Mr. Addams and knock him unconscious. They take him back to the boarding house, and put him in the room that they have prepared.
Clara doesn't show much interest in their victim. She is a lonely wife who wants her husband, but he doesn't want her. She throws herself at him a few times, but it doesn't do her much good. The only thing her husband cares about is the accident their victim is going to have with the gas cooker.
During the intermission, the usual Auto-lite cartoon story about spark plugs is replaced with an advertisement for one of the participants in the 1953 Easter Parade of Stars Auto Show. (For more information about the Parade of Stars Auto Show click here.) The car company featured on this episode was the Hudson Motorcar Company and the car being introduced to the television audience was the Hudson Jet.
When we return to "Vacancy for Death," we find Clara still pacing the floor in the early morning. She is supposed to wait up until 4:30 a.m. and then "smell gas" and call for help. While she is waiting, she drops in on her husband's room to try again. In this movie-like scene, she sees her husband for the person he really is.
"Vacancy for Death" (episode #180) aired on January 20, 1953. Steven Elliott played Sam. Also appearing were Dorothy Hart, Oliver Thorndike, and Douglas Taylor. This episode is available on disc 4 of Suspense: The Lost Episodes Collection 1.