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House of Games (1987)

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A psychiatrist comes to the aid of a compulsive gambler and is led by a smooth-talking grifter into the shadowy but compelling world of stings, scams, and con men.

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(screenplay), (story) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 6 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Margaret Ford
...
Mike
...
Joey
...
Dr. Maria Littauer
...
The Businessman
Willo Hausman ...
Girl with Book
Karen Kohlhaas ...
Prison Ward Patient
...
Billy Hahn
...
Bartender - House of Games
...
George / Vegas Man
G. Roy Levin ...
Poker Player
Bob Lumbra ...
Poker Player
Andy Potok ...
Poker Player
Allen Soule ...
Poker Player
Ben Blakeman ...
Bartender - Charlie's Tavern
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Storyline

A famous psychologist, Margaret Ford, decides to try to help one of her patients get out of a gambling debt. She visits the bar where Mike, to whom the debt is owed, runs poker games. He convinces her to help him in a game: her assignment is to look for "tells", or give-away body language. What seems easy to her becomes much more complex. Written by John J. Magee <magee@helix.mgh.harvard.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Human nature is a sucker bet. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

14 October 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Bordet fanger  »

Box Office

Gross:

$2,585,639 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ricky Jay is a sleight-of-hand artist and an acknowledged authority on the art of the con. In an NPR interview, Jay related that when David Mamet needed a short-change scam to be explained in "House of Games", he asked Jay for details of an authentic short-change hustle. However, Jay did not want to betray the confidence of the hustlers he knew who still used various short-change cons for their "livelihood". The envelope switch you see in the final film is an original switch invented by Ricky Jay specially for the film. Later, it was reported that an amateur thief had been caught attempting to use the switch as he had learned it from the film. See more »

Goofs

When Margaret first shoots Mike, a hole appears in his upper right pant leg; however, he grabs the part of his leg just behind his knee (well below the hole). See more »

Quotes

Dr. Littauer: When you have done something unforgivable, I'll tell you exactly what to do. You forgive yourself.
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Soundtracks

This True Love Stopped For You (But Not For Me)
by Rokko Jans
Sung by June Shellene
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User Reviews

Who Gets Conned Here?
1 May 2003 | by (West Virginia) – See all my reviews

I've viewed this film four times and at each viewing my interest was piqued a little more and I appreciated the film a little more. Granted the stylized approach is a little off-putting at first, but on repeated viewings, it becomes appropriate in the context of the film. Lindsay Crouse,(Mamet's wife at the time), plays a psychiatrist who methodically approaches her treatment of her patients, is a very closed person, and seemingly unfulfilled; hence, her interest and eventual immersion into the activities happening in the House of Games. Her almost robotic reading of the lines seems to fit her screen personality. She is at first curious and then becomes obsessed with Joe Mantegna and his way of life. As we will see, she plays right into his hands, and so do we. I won't go into detail about the story and it's strengths since it has been said better in previous reviews on this board. But the big con is on us, the viewers......we think we know what is happening...in fact we think we know several times. WRONG!! The ending will blow you away and if you figured it out, you need to be working the con game. This is a strange, almost erotic movie that will fascinate you, even though it might take a couple a viewings to fully appreciate it.


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