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House of Games (1987)

7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 14,645 users  
Reviews: 103 user | 60 critic

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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Title: House of Games (1987)

House of Games (1987) on IMDb 7.3/10

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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
Steven Goldstein ...
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
Edit

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:

Where the game is never over. See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

14 October 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dom gry  »

Filming Locations:


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
See  »
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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.
See more »

Connections

Remade as Qian wang qing ren (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

Fugue from the Toccata in C Minor
(BWV 911)
by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performed by Warren Bernhardt, piano
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Con game
12 March 2013 | by (Paris, Fr) – See all my reviews

I first experimented David Mamet with The Spanish Prisoner, and I found it unimpressive. The Mamet pattern is pretty simple and is explained extensively in The House of Games: set up a story in some edgy setting and then build up the audience trust in the proceedings, only to add a manipulative twisty ending.

There is one big flaw with that kind of 'ain't I clever' artsy flicks, and it is exactly the same as with whodunits. Either the twist is too abrupt and it really feels like an 'in your face' conclusion, or it is too soft and you are bored because you saw it coming. Either way it's a loser. I reckon some like deceptive story lines, and yes it works once in a while: The Usual Suspects worked... on first viewing, but there is no way to enjoy it again afterwards.

What I liked in The House of Games is the soft directing style, it's a bit too much on the artsy stagey side but it is really enjoyable to have a director know how to set up an atmosphere. Then I think most of the movie exists thanks to Joe Mantegna. He is very good and it helps because the lead is a pretty lousy character. And the actress is totally unimpressive: there is expressing a lot with little, and there is little little.

I guess the bland introverted hero is a way to summon cheap mystery, but it is not really a way to captivate one's audience. With such a low level of involvement, no wonder you see the twist coming and then you just don't care any more about the main character, then the ending simply doesn't matter.


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