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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

This film was ranked No. #10 on Roger Ebert 's list of the "Best Films of 1980s." See more »

Goofs

When Margaret starts to figure out she's been scammed, she goes to the bar where Mike and the guys hang out. It is pouring rain and she is soaking wet. After she goes in the back door of the bar she is dry. See more »

Quotes

George: South Street Seaport, the man says. He can't stand the heat. He can't stand it.
See more »

Connections

Featured in House of Games: Interview with Lindsay Crouse (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

 
Treat yourself to this deep movie about a strong woman amongstrong men.
25 May 1999 | by SquirePMSee 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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