7.3/10
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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.

Director:

David Mamet

Writers:

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Lindsay Crouse ... Margaret Ford
Joe Mantegna ... Mike
Mike Nussbaum ... Joey
Lilia Skala ... Dr. Littauer
J.T. Walsh ... The Businessman
Willo Hausman Willo Hausman ... Girl with Book
Karen Kohlhaas Karen Kohlhaas ... Prison Ward Patient
Steven Goldstein ... Billy Hahn (as Steve Goldstein)
Jack Wallace ... Bartender / House of Games
Ricky Jay ... George / Vegas Man
G. Roy Levin G. Roy Levin ... Poker Player
Bob Lumbra Bob Lumbra ... Poker Player
Andy Potok Andy Potok ... Poker Player
Allen Soule Allen Soule ... Poker Player
Ben Blakeman 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:

Nothing is as it seems. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

MGM

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

14 October 1987 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Tell See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$116,677, 18 October 1987, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$2,585,639
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Filmhaus See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The make and model of the classic car seen in the movie was, according to the IMCDb, a red and white 1962 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz convertible [6367E]. See more »

Goofs

When Mike is dressing in the hotel room, the narrow (back) side of his necktie is clearly three inches too long when he finishes. One edit later, wardrobe has obviously corrected the error. See more »

Quotes

Mike: I'm from the United States of kiss-my-ass.
See more »

Connections

Featured in House of Games: Interview with Joe Mantegna (2007) 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

 
United States of Kiss My Ass
5 May 2004 | by ImpQueenSee all my reviews

`The United States of Kiss My Ass'

House of Games is the directional debut from playwright David Mamet and it is an effective and at times surprising psychological thriller. It stars Lindsay Crouse as best-selling psychiatrist, Margaret Ford, who decides to confront the gambler who has driven one of her patients to contemplate suicide. In doing so she leaves the safety and comfort of her somewhat ordinary life behind and travels `downtown' to visit the lowlife place, House of Games.

The gambler Mike (played excellently by Joe Mantegna) turns out to be somewhat sharp and shifty. He offers Crouse's character a deal, if she is willing to sit with him at a game, a big money game in the backroom, he'll cancel the patients debts. The card game ensues and soon the psychiatrist and the gambler are seen to be in a familiar line of work (gaining the trust of others) and a fascinating relationship begins. What makes House of Games interesting and an essential view for any film fan is the constant guessing of who is in control, is it the psychiatrist or the con-man or is it the well-known man of great bluffs David Mamet.

In House of Games the direction is dull and most of the times flat and uninspiring, however in every David Mamet film it is the story which is central to the whole proceedings, not the direction. In House of Games this shines through in part thanks to the superb performances from the two leads (showy and distracting) but mainly as is the case with much of Mamet's work, it is the dialogue, which grips you and slowly draws you into the film. No one in the House of Games says what they mean and conversations become battlegrounds and war of words. Everyone bluffs and double bluffs, which is reminiscent of a poker games natural order. This is a running theme throughout the film and is used to great effect at the right moments to create vast amounts of tension. House of Games can also be viewed as a `class-war' division movie. With Lindsay Crouse we have the middle-class, well-to-do educated psychiatrist and Joe Mantegna is the complete opposite, the working class of America earning a living by `honest' crime.

The film seduces the viewer much like Crouse is seduced by Mantegna and the end result is ultimately a very satisfying piece of American cinema. And the final of the film is definitely something for all to see and watch out for, it's stunning.

An extremely enjoyable film experience that is worth repeated viewings. 9/10


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