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:

Human nature is a sucker bet. 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

Debut writing credit in film and television of Jonathan Katz who co-wrote the movie's story with writer-director David Mamet. Katz also appears in the David Mamet movies 'Homicide' (1991), 'Things Change' (1988), 'State and Main' (2000), and 'The Spanish Prisoner' (1997). See more »

Goofs

Near the end of the film, at the end of the airport baggage area scene viewing Mike and Margaret from above a ventilation duct, Margaret's travel bag is visible on the far left exactly parallel with the edge of the conveyor belt upon which it's placed. But in the next shot from the same view, the bag is at a 45-degree angle from its original position. See more »

Quotes

Mike: You see, in my trade, this is called - what you did - you cracked out of turn. Huh? You see? You crumbed the play.
See more »

Connections

References Animal House (1978) 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

 
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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