Friday, September 17, 2010


Finally picked this CRITERION COLLECTION version up on Amazon, been a long time since I've seen it. (My first screen credit...!)

  • 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

David Mamet's 1987 directorial debut was this mesmerizing study of control and seduction between two kinds of detached observers: a gambler who is also a con artist, and a psychotherapist who is also an emerging pop-psych guru in the book market. The latter (played by Lindsay Crouse) meets the former (Joe Mantegna) when one of her clients is driven to despair from his debts to the card shark. Mantegna's character agrees to drop the IOUs in exchange for Crouse's attention at the seedy House of Games in Seattle, a mecca for con men to talk shop and hustle unsuspecting customers. The shrink gets so caught up in the arcane rules and world view of her guide over subsequent days that she observes--with no false rapture--various stings in progress inside and outside the club. Mamet's story finally becomes a fascinating study of two people protecting and extending their respective cosmologies the way rival predators fight for the same piece of turf. The psychological challenge is compelling; so is the stylized dialogue, with its pattern of pauses and hiccups and humming meter. Mostly shooting at night, Mamet also gave Seattle a different look from previous filmmakers, turning its familiar puddles into concentrations of liquid neon and poisonous noir. --Tom Keogh
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.

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