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:

Where the game is never over. 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 $6000 check Margaret Ford (Lindsay Crouse) writes to settle the phony debt at the poker game early in the film is dated May 12, 1987. May 12 (1948) is Crouse's birthday. 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: You say I acted atrociously. Yes. I did. I do it for a living.
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

 
Riveting, disturbing... near-flawless psychological suspense
15 May 2000 | by cathyyoung1See all my reviews

If your idea of a thriller is car chases, explosions, and dozens of people being mowed down by gunfire, then "House of Games" is definitely not the movie for you. If you like and appreciate psychological drama and suspense, then, by all means, see it.

"House of Games" tells the story of an esteemed psychologist and writer, Dr. Margaret Ford (Lindsay Crouse), who tries to help a patient and gets involved in the shadowy world of con men led by the charismatic Mike (Joe Mantegna). To say anything more about the plot would ruin the suspense. Frankly, I find it hard to believe anyone who says they saw the twists coming. Just like a clever con artist, this movie draws you into its web and lulls your vigilance.

The story is taut and well-crafted, the dialogue smart and laconic, the acting uniformly good (Mantegna is superbly charismatic). Some have complained that Dr. Ford is not a very sympathetic character, and wondered why Mamet would make Lindsay Crouse look so physically unattractive. But Dr. Ford is supposed to be cold and aloof; moreover, her homeliness is in a way essential to the plot (at one point, I believe that an injury to her sexual self-esteem is a key part of her motivation ... I'll say no more).

"House of Games" is a dark look at the underside of human nature that concludes on a note of discomforting ambiguity. It will hold your attention every second while you are watching, and stay with you for a long time afterwards.


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