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House of Games (1987)

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. Littauer
...
The Businessman
Willo Hausman ...
Girl with Book
Karen Kohlhaas ...
Prison Ward Patient
...
Billy Hahn (as Steve Goldstein)
...
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:

Where the game is never over. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

14 October 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Bordet fanger  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$116,677 (USA) (18 October 1987)

Gross:

$2,585,639 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

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 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Mamet's first film as director. He replaced the original first choice, Peter Yates. See more »

Goofs

Margaret Ford takes her smokes from a package of unfiltered "stubby" Camels, but the actual cigarettes she uses are longer (probably Pall Malls) so they'll "read" better on screen. See more »

Quotes

[after the con has failed due to Margaret noticing water dripping from the gun]
George: Told you a squirt gun wouldn't work.
Mike: A squirt gun would've worked- you didn't have to fill it!
See more »

Connections

Featured in Siskel & Ebert: You Blew It! (1990) See more »

Soundtracks

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

 
Treat yourself to this deep movie about a strong woman amongstrong men.
25 May 1999 | by (Birmingham, Alabama) – See all my reviews

House of Games is a wonderful movie at multiple levels. It is a fine mystery and a shocking thriller. It is blessed with marvelous performances by Lindsay Crouse and Joe Montegna, and a strong, strong cast of supporting players, and it introduces Ricky Jay, card sharp extraordinaire, prestidigitator and historian of magic. Its dialogue, written by David Mamet, is spoken as if in a play of manners and gives the movie (in which reality is often in question) an extra dimension of unrealness.

On the face of it, House of Games is a convincing glimpse into the unknown world of cheats and con men, diametrically different from The Sting, which was played merely for glamour and yuks. At this level it does succeed admirably.

However, you cannot escape the examination at a deeper level of the odyssey of a woman from complacent professional competence to incredible strength and self realization. The only movie I know of which treats the theme of emergence of personal strength in a woman in as worthy a way is the underrated Private Benjamin. That thoroughly enjoyable movie unfortunately diffuses its focus, hopping among several themes and exploiting the fine performance of Goldie Hawn to chase after some easy laughs. House of Games sticks to its business. As Poe once said of a good short story, it drives relentlessly to its conclusion.

There is another strain of movies-about-women, epitomized by Thelma and Louise, a big budget commercial money maker with the despicable theme that women are doomed, whether or not they realize their inner strengths. What tripe.

As usual you really ought to see this film in a movie theater. It should be a natural for film festivals. Nominate it for one near you if you get the chance.

I bought the original version of House of Games and gave it to my 23 year old daughter. Better she should see it on a TV than not at all.


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