House of Games

( 5 )

Overview

In his directorial debut, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet creates a stylish cinematic puzzle of games within games, as con men are joined by a psychologist in creating the perfect caper. Dr. Margaret Ford Lindsay Crouse, the writer of psychological self-help books, meets Mike Joe Mantegna as she attempts to help a patient who owes heavy gambling debts. When she herself is the victim of a con, she becomes intrigued by the psychological drama of the con game and joins in a complicated scam involving a...
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Overview

In his directorial debut, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet creates a stylish cinematic puzzle of games within games, as con men are joined by a psychologist in creating the perfect caper. Dr. Margaret Ford Lindsay Crouse, the writer of psychological self-help books, meets Mike Joe Mantegna as she attempts to help a patient who owes heavy gambling debts. When she herself is the victim of a con, she becomes intrigued by the psychological drama of the con game and joins in a complicated scam involving a suitcase of cash. Mamet directs his extremely complicated plot with skill and complete control until it is impossible to tell who is the con and who is the victim. The suspense builds to an amazing surprise ending which is both reasonable and believable but completely unpredictable. Crouse and Mantegna are outstanding as are all the supporting performances. Mamet and his cinematographer Juan Ruiz-Anchia create a visually stunning, compelling film that does justice to Mamet's superbly written screenplay
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
A compelling psychological drama with Hitchcockian overtones, playwright David Mamet's acclaimed cinematic debut takes voyeuristic delight in exploring the seedy, dangerous world of professional gamblers and confidence men. Lindsay Crouse Mamet's wife at the time plays a famous psychiatrist who initially penetrates this world with the idea of helping a victimized patient, only to find herself mesmerized by articulate, sophisticated grifter Joe Mantegna and his fellow con artists. Eventually drawn into their games and addicted to the illicit thrill that accompanies a successful scam, she becomes a willing accomplice to the manipulative Mantegna, who’s playing for higher stakes than she imagines. Director Mamet draws both his protagonist and his audience into society’s dark underbelly, where crafty denizens ply their illegal trade with astonishing skill and attention to detail. Crouse is appropriately cool as the practiced professional who represses her amoral impulses, while Mantegna oozes oily charm as the seductive sharper who engages her in a suspenseful cat-and-mouse game. These fine actors, working from Mamet’s elaborately plotted and elegantly dialogued script, imbue House of Games with a credibility -- vital to Mamet’s premise -- that less talented performers could never have achieved. The new DVD release includes the 1987 film’s original theatrical trailer.
All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
David Mamet's dialogue has a particular rhythm. His best pieces, when delivered properly, are like music. House of Games is one of his best screenplays and allows Joe Mantegna and Lindsay Crouse the opportunity to duet for 90 minutes. Their performances bring to life a very psychologically complex relationship. There is much going on in the minds of these characters, and their performances maintain a perfect balance between revealing themselves to each other and the audience. In one scene, Mike teaches Margaret, as well as the audience, about "tells." Tells are physical actions which "tell" an observant person what the person performing the action is thinking. After demonstrating some examples, Mike takes Margaret's hand and places his fingertips against hers and tells her to, in her mind, choose a finger. He shows her what finger she was thinking of, and she informs him he was correct. He then asks her if she wants to sleep with him. The audience realizes that Mike, a master at reading tells, already knows the answer. But the real question is whether or not Margaret has learned enough to manipulate Mike. Slick, seductive, and compulsively watchable, House of Games succeeds in getting the audience inside the minds of con artists, but not until they have been put through a psychological and emotional wringer.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/15/2001
  • UPC: 018713040749
  • Original Release: 1987
  • Rating:

  • Source: Good Times Video
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Lindsay Crouse Dr. Margaret Ford
Joe Mantegna Mike
Mike Nussbaum Joey
Lilia Skala Dr. Littauer
J.T. Walsh Businessman
Ricky Jay George/Vegas Man
Willo Hausman Girl With Book
Karen Kohlhaas Prison Ward Patient
Steve Goldstein Billy Hahn
Jack Wallace Bartender "House of Games"
G. Roy Levin Poker Player
Bob Lumbra Poker Player
Andy Potok Poker Player
Allen Soule Poker Player
Roberta Magure Restaurant Hostess
John Pritchett Hotel Desk Clerk
Johnny S.B. Willis Hotel Doorman
Jaqueline dela Chaume Woman with Lighter
Ben Blakeman Bartender, "Charlie's Tavern"
Scott Zigler Western Union Clerk
William H. Macy Sgt. Horan
Meshach Taylor Mr. Dean
Josh Conescu Garage Attendant
Julie Mendenhall Late Student
Rachel Cline Student
Patricia Wolff Patient, Dr. Ford's Office
Paul Walsh Man in Restaurant
Technical Credits
David Mamet Director, Original Story, Screenwriter
Nan Cibula Costumes/Costume Designer
Michael Hausman Producer
Derek R. Hill Set Decoration/Design
Alaric Jans Score Composer
Jonathan Katz Original Story
Lee R. Mayes Production Designer
Michael Merritt Art Director, Production Designer
Trudy Ship Editor
Robert Willard Special Effects
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 5 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(2)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(2)

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    one of those late-nite movies

    I first saw House of Games on late-night television before I got a Tivo. And that's what has colored my perception thereof. It's one of those "gotcha" movies.

    An icy-hot blond psychiatrist feels listless after a big book project has been successfully completed. She finds a new project to capture her interest: a study of con-men and the psychology of how they work. And she finds a tall, dark, and handsome con-man willing to oblige her.

    And then things spin out of control most delightfully.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted February 24, 2009

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    Posted December 8, 2008

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    Posted December 17, 2008

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    Posted September 23, 2009

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews