Monday, February 26, 2007

Reddy Kilowatt: A Cruel God

As a connoisseur of bad poetry, some crème de la scum can be found in bad movies. For example, take “Lady In A Cage” — please!

This 1964 overwrought disaster stars Olivia de Havahistrionic – I mean Havalland – as a wealthy woman who finds herself alone, trapped in her mansion during a hot 4th of July weekend. Due to a hip injury, a special elevator has been installed in her two-story living room.

Havalland’s character – who considers herself a poetess – finds herself trapped up in the air when the power goes out. Ergo, she is a lady in a cage. (Clever, eh?) With no air conditioning, the poetess becomes a little delusional from the heat, slumping down in one corner of the elevator, trying to pass the time until someone shows up to help her.

At one point she kills a few moments – and a few of my brain cells – by composing a poem within her skull (even though I suspect it was created in another body cavity). Havilland acts out each line like a melodramatic silent screen actress, throwing her head back, grimacing, as she composes:

Oh! I have worshipped thee,
False god.
For thou art false, electricity

Kilowatt is his name
And we did burn incense to his power

But lo, one day
Our god Kilowatt left us

Could we then go back
To the gods of our childhood?
To reindeer, Santa Claus?

At this point the elevator bangs and jerks, apparently affected by the affected verse. Unfortunately, it doesn’t crash and kill the poetess. You see, Kilowatt is a jealous god, especially one who hates Xmas. He sends three hoodlums to terrorize the poetess. She brilliantly sums up the actions of the juvenile delinquents as “an animal orgy.”

Sylvia Plath, where art thou?


Leigh said...

Is this the movie in which Victor Buono plays a would-be suitor who runs out on poor Olivia? The first time I saw Vic was when, as a kid, I nearly lost bladder control laughing when he showed up as King Tut in "Batman" and, in a W.C. Fields voice, referred to a woman as, "Ah, yes, my little Aswan damsel."

Ray said...


I think the movie with Victor Buono and Olivia is "Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte" (1964). I haven't seen that one. "Lady In A Cage" features a young James Caan as the leader of the punks and Jeff Corey as a unhsaven wino with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth.

Victor hit the pinnacle of his career in a no-budget documentary about the Tunguska Event called "Target...Earth?" (1980). He portrayed Homer The Archivist.

(Gee, do you think I watch too many movies?)



X. Dell said...

Sylvia Plath? Who's the god of natural gas?

I've never thought of erecting a shrine to Reddy Kilowatt. But he is a vengeful deity, especially during the summer here in NYC.

Ray said...

X. Dell:

The God of natural gas?

According to my in-depth research (five minutes with Google), Reddy Kilowatt had an upstart nephew, Reddy Flame, who promoted gas.

By the way, I'm sending any angry feminists your way. I'm not going to be responsible for your sick, reprehensible joke about Sylvia Plath.


PS: According to my in-depth research, Sylvia Plath used to be a model and she did a TV commercial for Easy Off Oven Cleaner. (Oops...)

Anonymous said...

My memory says his name was Freddy Kilowatt. Did different electric companies use the same character and paste different names on him, or is my memory faulty?

Ray said...


Faulty memory? Welcome to the club.

Anyway, here's I bit of info I found pertaining to Reddy:


Information supplied by Reddy's owners indicates the character was created by Ashton B. Collins Sr., general commercial manager of Alabama Power Company... Reddy debuted on March 11, 1926. He wasn't just APC's spokestoon, but was offered to other local power companies as well. Philadelphia Electric Company was the first of over 200 to license the character. Since then, Reddy's image has appeared on billboards, company stationery, newspaper and magazine ads, give-away merchandise, and everywhere else a toon can appear — including, of course, comics and animation."

Now I did Google "Freddy Kilowatt" and found a few hits. I didn't really check out all of them, but it seems that some people might be getting Reddy's name a bit wrong and thus "Freddy" is also being memed. Or maybe someone did a knock-off of the original Reddy. But I suspect that it's one of those mix-ups like people who say "Rod Sterling" instead of "Rod Serling" when talking about the old Twilight Zone TV series. (Google Rod Sterling and you'll see what I mean.)

Anyway, that's my guess. Also, besides being red, I'm assuming that Reddy's first name is a pun on "Ready," i.e., electricity is always ready to serve you - except during a blackout!