House of Games (1987)


“It’s called a confidence game. Why? Because you give me your confidence? No. Because I give you mine. ” – Mike

Number of Times Seen – 1 (27 Aug 2020)

Brief Synopsis – A psychologist gets caught up in the realm of high stakes gambling and con men as she tries to help out one of her patients.

My Take on it – I have always been a fan of David Mamet’s stories and was intrigued to finally see this one.

They do a nice job of allowing us to get a deeper understanding of the way con men work.

They allows us to learn some enjoyable tricks of the trade even though it’s just a ploy to gain OUR confidence in the story and characters.

Mamet is able to write great dialogue and characters in order to draw us into this world of deceit here we know that no one and nothing should be trusted.

The biggest problem with these kind of films is that one is always expecting some surprises and twists along the way and that actually makes it even more obvious that one should be on the lookout for something unexpected to take pace, which in turn makes things more expected.

The film’s cast is great and Joe Mantegna is able to stand out among them all. Linda Crouse is ok in the lead role, but she fails to be as compelling as one might hope for.

Loved seeing J.T. Walsh and Ricky Jay in small yet significant roles here.

Bottom Line – Interesting idea because of the way that they let us deeper into the world of con men and reveal certain tricks of the trade along the way in order to gain OUR confidence. Mamet knows how to draw some really intriguing characters and this film is filled with them. The problem here is that once one knows how Mamet’s writes these kind of stories, it’s far too obvious that there will be some kind of twist along the way and that tips the hat too much to the viewer and keeps us on the lookout for something which takes away from the unpredictability of things.  The cats is great and Mantegna stands out here the whole way thru.  Loved seeing Jay and Walsh in small yet significant roles. Crouse is fine here, but fails to be as compelling in the lead as one might expect. Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – Ricky Jay is a sleight-of-hand artist and an acknowledged authority on the art of the con. In an NPR interview, Jay related that when David Mamet needed a short-change scam to be explained in “House of Games”, he asked Jay for details of an authentic short-change hustle. However, Jay did not want to betray the confidence of the hustlers he knew who still used various short-change cons for their “livelihood”. The envelope switch you see in the final film is an original switch invented by Ricky Jay specially for the film. Later, it was reported that an amateur thief had been caught attempting to use the switch as he had learned it from the film. (From IMDB)

Rating – Globe Worthy (7/10)

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One thought on “House of Games (1987)

  1. Pingback: Temporal Top Ten – 1987 | MovieRob

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