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House of Games (The Criterion Collection) (1987)

Joe Mantegna , Lindsay Crouse , David Mamet  |  R |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (119 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Joe Mantegna, Lindsay Crouse, Mike Nussbaum, Lilia Skala, J.T. Walsh
  • Directors: David Mamet
  • Writers: David Mamet
  • Producers: Michael Hausman
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (PCM Mono)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: August 21, 2007
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (119 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,284 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "House of Games (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • New, restored, high-definition digital transfer
  • Commentary by director David Mamet and actor Ricky Jay
  • New video interviews with Joe Mantegna and Lindsay Crouse
  • Short documentary: "David Mamet on House of Games"
  • Storyboard detail
  • Trailer
  • An essay by critic Kent Jones and excerpts from Mamet's introduction to the published screenplay

Editorial Reviews

Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright and screenwriter David Mamet first sat in the director’s chair for this sly, merciless thriller, one of the most original and acclaimed films of the eighties. Mamet’s witty tale of a therapist and best-selling author (Lindsay Crouse) who must confront her own obsessions when she meets an attractive cardsharp (Joe Mantegna) is as psychologically acute as it is full of twists and turns, a rich character study told with the cold calculation of a career criminal.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
By Cubist
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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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A STUNNING PSYCHOLOGIAL THRILLER... 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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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, Enthralling and Compelling! 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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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mamet At His Mesmerizing Best May 28, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
David Mamet wrote the screenplay and made his directorial debutwith "House of Games," a character study fraught withpsychological overtones, in which a psychiatrist is lured into thedark world of the confidence game. Margaret Ford (Lindsay Crouse) has a successful practice and has written a best-selling novel, "Driven." Still, she is somewhat discontented with her own personal life; there's an emptiness she can neither define nor resolve, and it primes her vulnerability. When a patient, Billy Hahn (Steven Goldstein), confides to her during a session that he owes big money to some gamblers, and that they're going to kill him if he doesn't pay, she decides to intervene on his behalf. This takes her to the "House of Games," a seedy little dive where she meets Mike (Joe Mantegna), a charismatic con-man who wastes no time before enticing her into his world. Instead of the "twenty-five large" that Billy claimed he owed, Mike shows her his book, and it turns out to be eight hundred dollars. And Mike agrees to wipe the slate clean, if she'll agree to do him one simple favor, which involves a card game he has going on in the back room. In the middle of a big hand, Mike is going to leave the room for a few minutes; while he is gone, her job is to watch for the "tell" of one of the other players. By this time, not only Margaret, but the audience, as well, is hooked. The dialogue, and Mamet's unique style and the precise cadence with which his actors deliver their lines, is mesmerizing. As Mike leads Margaret through his compelling, surreal realm of existence, and introduces her to the intricacies of the con game, we are swept right along with her. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars House of Games
I actually was searching for movies with Ricky Jay who happens to also be a great magician. I came across House of Games with the main stars being Lindsay Crouse & Joe Mantegna. Read more
Published 15 days ago by Robert
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Very Best
Simply put, this is a great movie. I first saw it way back in the late 1980's, and was introduced to both Joe Mantegna and Lindsay Crouse, and the magic of David Mamet. Read more
Published 19 days ago by Stephen P. Giannotti
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting psychological drama.
Superb bate & switch drama. Psychological journey very well put together ! Highest rating with acting at the highest level.
Published 28 days ago by Thomas R Blair
2.0 out of 5 stars Good story, terrible acting
I finally saw a review on this site that agrees with me about the acting in this film. Either these two stars were not comfortable with the material or they were not comfortable... Read more
Published 28 days ago by JJ
4.0 out of 5 stars House of Games
recommend to anyone who likes a psychological thriller and likes dialogue. Dialogue/acting at first makes it seem like you are watching a pulp-fiction type comic book that has... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Regina Worthey
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and keeps you guessing.
This is the first David Mamet movie we watched and we were not sure what to expect. Entertaining and engaging movie. Read more
Published 2 months ago by R. Somsen
5.0 out of 5 stars House of games.
Great movie, a real cliff hanger, it has a great cast, more twists and turns than a snake, I found it very entertaining.
Published 4 months ago by pgc3
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Mamet
Loved movie. I have seen it twice. The plot was riveting and acting was supreme. Diction was closer to that of a play than movie. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Msa12345!
4.0 out of 5 stars Twisty plot, great characters
Excellent B movie - no car crashes, no insipid over-dramatic dialogue, no gratuitous nudity...none of the junk that tries to compensate for a good plot/script. Read more
Published 6 months ago by R. W. Ruger
5.0 out of 5 stars House of Games
Wonderful movie with Ricky Jay and usual David Mamet ensemble cast. Jay is a bad guy, great magician in real life!
Published 7 months ago by Bruce Trampler
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