7.2/10
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122 user 76 critic

House of Games (1987)

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2:06 | Trailer
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

Gross USA:

$2,585,639

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$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

'Things Change' (1988) was writer-director David Mamet's follow-up movie to his directorial debut 'House of Games' (1987). Both pictures featured many of the same cast and crew totaling to around about fifty common personnel between the two productions. This included such actors as Joe Mantegna, William H. Macy, J. T. Walsh, Ricky Jay, Jack Wallace, Mike Nussbaum, and Steven Goldstein. See more »

Goofs

Margaret asks the House of Games's barman to call Mike out. Then he enters in the game room and closes the door. We don't see him comes back. So Mike opens the door and comes to talk her. During the conversation we don't see the barman behind the counter. But after Mike went to the game room, the barman appears behind the counter. See more »

Quotes

Mike: Hey, fuck you! This is what you always wanted, you crooked bitch! You thief! You always need to get caught, 'cos you know you're bad. I never hurt anybody, I never shot anybody. You sought this out. This is what you always wanted. I knew it the first time you came in. You're worthless, you know it? You're a whore. You came back like a dog to its own vomit You sick bitch - I'm not gonna give you shit.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Redbelt: Q&A with David Mamet (2008) 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

A movie about doors. Worth a second look. And a third.
20 February 2004 | by manuel-pestalozziSee all my reviews

House of Games is a highly stylized affair. If you follow the action on the surface, it might be very unsatisfactory. Many reviewers on this site have pointed out details they perceive as inconsistent, illogical or outside the realm of healthy common sense. They comment on the actor's Zombie like performances. They are certainly right if they expected a "realistic" suspense thriller. I think the author/director had other aims than presenting the viewers with "real" people, "real" locations and "real" actions.

The story is about a successful woman who misses something in her life without knowing what it really is. Unexpectedly a new world is opened to her. She enters it willingly and is faced with the unexpected. The unexpected reveals itself to be something she somehow should have expected. What will she do in the face of utter humiliation, how will those experiences affect her future behaviour, who is the ultimate winner of the game, if there is one? This synopsis can be further condensed in to two "philosophical" questions: What is real? Whom can you trust? The movie treats them without mercy. Nothing and nobody, are its answer.

The movie gives this basic story a frame. It is very well tailored and aesthetically sound. The action is paced calmly and evenly, the musical soundtrack enhances the atmosphere superbly. Let's face it: The People who made it perceive moviemaking as an art. And not just as art for art's sake, many settings appear to have symbolic meaning. I saw it basically as a movie about doors. Doors and doorways star very prominently and remind us that we constantly want to get behind them and find out what is there, never quite knowing when we are in, when out.

As someone who is not a native English speaker, I enjoyed the dialogues. The discussion about why the Ricky Jay character loaded his squirt gun is hilarious. The movie‘s last spoken sentence – "it is a Waldorf salad" – makes it impossible for me not to like this movie. I love Waldorf salad!


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