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House of Games

157 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

It's the shrink vs. the shark in the ultimate mind game! Starring OscarÂ(r) nominee* Lindsay Crouse (The Insider) and Joe Montegna (The Godfather III) as an unlikely team of conartists, this "witty and devious" (Time) psychological thriller is OscarÂ(r) nominee** David Mamet's directorial debut. It's an "extraordinary" (Newsweek) and "thrilling funhouse" (New York Post) of mental gamesmanship that will keep you guessing until its exciting end! When a suicidal patient reveals that his gambling debt has him at the end of his rope, dedicated psychiatrist Margaret Ford (Crouse) enters into the shadowy underground world of gaming to help him out. At a seedy casino, she boldly confronts Mike (Montegna), the con man who holds her patient's markers. Duped into a high-stakes poker match, Margaret becomes intoxicated by Mike's mastery, as he both cheats at the game and charms her. She quickly falls for him, turning a blind eye to the fact that he's a swindler who can't be trusted. And before long she finds herself sparring in a mental poker match of the heart with deadly consequences! *1984: Supporting Actress, Places in the Heart **1982: Writing, Screenplay Based on Material From Another Medium, The Verdict; 1997: Writing, Screenplay Based on Material From Another Medium, Wag the Dog


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Lindsay Crouse, Joe Mantegna, Mike Nussbaum, Lilia Skala, J.T. Walsh
  • Directors: David Mamet
  • Writers: David Mamet, Jonathan Katz
  • Producers: Michael Hausman
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, Letterboxed, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Unknown), French (Unknown), Spanish (Unknown)
  • Subtitles: Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: December 19, 2000
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (157 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004ZBVL
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #72,782 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "House of Games" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Cubist on August 20, 2007
Format: DVD
If you've suffered through the bare-bones, full-screen MGM release that came out a few years ago, this new edition will come as a fantastic upgrade.

Easily, the highlight for David Mamet fans is the audio commentary with the man and actor Ricky Jay. These two old friends engage in lively philosophical discussions on a variety of topics, including why President Bush is such a terrible liar, the art of the con game and why psychiatry is a scam. Ricky Jay talks about the nature of the con and some of the lingo involved while keeping Mamet talking by prodding him with questions. Mamet is his usual blunt self as he constantly talks about how Orion messed up distributing the film in this engaging and thought-provoking commentary.

There is an interview with actress Lindsay Crouse who mentions that Mamet wrote the role of Dr. Ford for her (They were married at the time) and says that he spent five years trying to get the film made because the studios found the material too dark.

Also included is an interview with Joe Mantegna. He talks about his history with Mamet that goes back to Chicago theatre in the 1970s. He eventually appeared in the stage version of Glengarry Glen Ross when Al Pacino turned it down and went on to win a Tony for it. He talks about how he related to the character of Mike and recounts some amusing anecdotes about filming.

"David Mamet on House of Games" is 25-minute making of featurette that the film's producer and his wife shot in Vermont while Mamet was preparing the film and in Seattle while he was shooting it. There is some great footage of Mamet and his buddies playing poker in Vermont. The same guys also appear in the film in the poker scene.

"The Tap" features the original storyboards to the short con that Mike and his group demonstrate to Dr. Ford but in order to protect the working con man, Ricky Jay changed it to another con called the Flue.

Finally, there is a theatrical trailer.
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40 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 25, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
This is an absolutely mesmerizing film. A wonderful addition to that genre known as "film noir", the movie is superlative in every way. In his directorial debut, David Mamet shows a keen understanding of the concept "less is more".
The two main characters in the film are a well known psychiatrist with a best selling book, Dr. Margaret Ford, played with chilly determinism by Lindsay Crouse, and a slick con man, known only as Mike, brilliantly played by Joe Mantegna with a sinister, charismatic charm. She is stiff and formal. He is casual and seemingly easygoing. Each is involved in a field of endeavor that requires a keen understanding of human nature.
They meet by virtue of what each of them does for a living. Dr. Ford is treating a young patient, who claims to be despondent over getting in over his head financially, while gambling at a disreputable and seedy locale known as the House of Games. She is worried about her patient's potential for suicide, so she decides to go to the House of Games to see if she can straighten out the whole mess.
There, she meets Mike, the person to whom the debt is owed. From the moment they meet, there is a latent, sexual tension between them and an aura of danger and seduction that permeates the air. Intrigued by him, she is drawn into his world, where things are not always what they seem. There are many twists and turns in this most unusual film, which deftly manipulates the viewer.
The film is tautly crafted, and the dialogue itself is highly stylized with its own peculiar cadence. This serves to add to the air of mystery and suspense which infuses this film. There is an excellent supporting cast whose strong performances contribute to the overall quality of this multi-layered film.
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31 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Bertin Ramirez on July 10, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Whenever you watch a Mamet film, you're in for the most subtle mind manipulation you're likely to get at the movies. Mamet is so skillful at his craft it's scary. 'House Of Games' is the quintessential Mamet film, not because it's the best, but because it has all his elements; a twisting and involving plot, perversely attractive characters and a big wallop of an ending, as expected by the master of manipulation. The film is admirable because of it's subtlety, it has no big noisy scenes, no real action scenes and no steamy romantic scenes, Mamet could of easily added one of each but that would of marred the effect of this expertly crafted film. The dialogue is right on the money, Mantegna talks just as a small-time grifter would talk, no one-liners or really smart conversation, just a low-key dose of reality. Lindsay Crouse if quietly effective as the thrill-seeking pyschiatrist who gets the experience of a lifetime. And Mantegna is perfection as the alluring con-man who does his job fatally well. An extremely well mounted film that leaves the intelligent viewer gasping. Extras: spot William H. Macy in a cameo. From a scale of 1-10 I give this film a 9!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By S. Harris on July 16, 2004
Format: DVD
David Mamet's "House of Games," is another of that director's giant flip jobs. I've been working my way through the Mamet catalogue, and one can't help but feel the director sees the world itself as a giant con. Well, that's perhaps a bit simplistic, but Mamet does cling, in movie after movie, to some core principles. One of these is that you must trust no one. In "Spartan," "The Spanish Prisoner," and "House of Games," this very line is uttered, usually by a villain to an innocent. This sounds like a negative credo, but it really isn't. First, consider who's issuing the warning: the villain. Will the innocent learn from experience? And will the learning result in corruption? (Important questions for Mamet.) Second, trusting yourself and knowing yourself (weaknesses included) in a dangerous world is advisable, necessary, in order to survive . I have to believe Mamet is a big reader of Joseph Conrad.
The story behind "House of Games," involves Lindsay Crouse as Margaret Ford, a doctor and popular author. Her "big book" is titled "Driven," about compulsive and addictive personalities. It doesn't take long to figure out the book is about herself. So driven is Margaret that she is beginning to make Freudian slips in her conversations, slips that reveal dark corners of her own personality. She may be heading for a breakdown - and a teaching colleague warns her, tells her she must slow down. But "slowing down" comes as another writing project presents itself, seemingly accidently due to the dilemma of a patient , when Margaret is introduced to the world of the Con at a local bar and pool hall called "House of Games." This introduction comes at the hands of Mike (Joe Mantegna), a handsome and slick con man who is willing to provide a tour - though he does warn her: "Trust no one.
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