"Time, time. What is time? Swiss manufacture it. French hoard it. Italians squander it. Americans say it is money. Hindus say it does not exist. Do you know what I say? I say time is a crook," mutters Peter Lorre apropos of absolutely nothing in "Beat the Devil," John Huston's brilliant 1953 parody of crime-sex-comedy-adventure films.
With an all star cast (Humphrey Bogart, Gina Lollobrigida, Jennifer Jones, Robert Morley and others too numerous to mention), the movie is a cult classic that deserves its own little Northern Spark revival just for the delicious pleasure of hearing Lorre's daffy riff on time.
It would be the perfect accompaniment to Christian Marclay's "The Clock," a 24-hour-long work of genius that Walker Art Center plans to run June 14 -15 as part of Northern Spark, the dusk-to-dawn art festival that this year bounces back to Minneapolis after a season in St. Paul.
In "The Clock," Marclay splices together 24 hours of second-by-second images of clocks clipped from other movies, each of them moving inexorably and sequentially through a day and a night and a day again as time passes. There are wrist watches, digital alarms, tower clocks, train-station clocks and more snipped from murder mysteries, romantic comedies, adventure tales and every other type of cinematic encounter in which someone, somewhere glanced at a timepiece while marking time waiting for something to happen.
As "Beat the Devil" screen-writer Truman Capote said, through the lips of Lorre, "Time is a crook."
Walker has booked "The Clock" from 11 a.m. Saturday to 5 p.m. Sunday. That's a long 24 hours, perhaps broken up by popcorn and bathroom breaks?