Suspense's "Lady in Distress" showcases Ava Gardner. The radio-play was written by John Michael Hayes, who also wrote the screenplays for the Alfred Hitchcock films Rear Window, The Trouble With Harry, and The Man Who Knew Too Much. So why isn't this episode better? It could have been a neatly packaged radio noir but it isn't.
"Lady in Distress" begins with a hitch-hiker, which is always a good start, but then Ava Gardner's character, Mrs. Harris, and the hitch-hiker named Sullivan start talking while she is driving. We find out that he is an escaped criminal, and that now she is in danger. They keep talking and driving, driving, driving. The humm of the motor, the sound of rain, the endless dialogue...zzzz. Suddenly, they stop in a diner for hamburgers and coffee in a completely unnecessary scene. Then there is more talking, driving...motor humming...rain sounds...zzz...zzzz.
When we wake up again we find out that the escaped convict wants revenge on the policeman who put him in prison. That man just happens to be the husband of Mrs. Harris! Of course, that's no accident. She hates her mean, crabby husband and wants to help Sullivan accomplish his revenge. They arrange to put a bomb in her husband's car but things don't go as planned. It would be a surprise if they did because neither of these two seems that bright. In the end, the bad people get their come-uppance through their own evil work.
So, that's that.
You really have to listen closely to this story to appreciate it but due to the somnolent sound effects, this is hard to do. "Lady in Distress" was Ava Gardner's only appearance on Suspense. The previous year she had starred in the film noir The Killers by Ernest Hemingway. Also featured in this episode were Howard Duff as Sullivan and Wally Maher as the husband. It was produced and directed by William Spier, who later worked with Gardner on the film Tam Lin. "Lady in Distress" aired on May 1, 1947.