Moviedrome Mondays: House of Games (1987)

Since I could not find a youtube video link to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s introduction to famed playwright David Mamet’s 1987 directorial debut House of Games, readers will have to rely on Cox’s intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was June 6, 1993 (read here). While I personally believe that David Mamet is a much better writer than director, I will happily admit that House of Games is an exception to this rule. Though it does come off looking stagy on occasions (after all, Mamet’s career is rooted in the theatre), his direction is (rather surprisingly) tightly executed here. Aside from the intriguing twists and turns that fuel this Neo-noir, we get great acting (especially from Lindsay Crouse and Joe Mantegna) and last, but not least, electrifying dialogue courtesy of screenwriter Mamet (from a story he concocted with Jonathan Katz).

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

9 thoughts on “Moviedrome Mondays: House of Games (1987)

  1. Stagey or not, this is one of my favourite modern films. Fantastic acting, sharp script, and a delicious twist. Mamet at his best.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. Does look like a good movie John. Never knew about it.

    John, for curiosity I went on YouTube yesterday to see watch Upcoming Movie Trailers. What a bunch vile vacuous crud! Rehashed Super Hero crap and mostly formula Horror Movies and other supposed Action shite. Of 30 Trailers I watched I’d say maybe (MAYBE?) 2 are of interest to me. Pretty well NOTHING was inspired Art or Filmmaking. Not worth my popcorn.
    Covid has it’s merits as it’s kept this junk out of the Theatres (which have been mercifully closed anyway). But I guess if people didn’t watch this stuff and they weren’t making money off of it, they wouldn’t make it.

  3. Another film I haven’t seen, but an interesting introduction from Alex, nonetheless. I like the fact he considers House of Games indescribable so spends his time talking on the subject of titles. Who new titles could be so interesting?

  4. Though I still think he is a better writer than director, Mamet’s direction for House of Games comes off as his strongest since he is wearing his influences proudly on his sleeve. In this case, it would be 1940’s film noir (heist thrillers in this case) with a touch of Hitchcockian class. Unlike his subsequent films as a director, House of Games dialogue only comes off as artificial on the surface. At the center, it is actually electrifying. For me, House of Games is a very good film. I think when his scripts are directed by other people, cinephiles like myself suddenly recognize how gifted Mamet is as a screenwriter. I have never seen one of his plays, but I would not be surprised If they were electrifying on the stage in ways that he mostly could not achieve as a director of his own scripts. As I said before though, House of Games is the exception to this rule. Anyway, thanks for dropping by πŸ™‚

  5. I hear what you are saying jcalberta, for myself, I am sticking with Netflix right now or just watching something on my Blu-Ray player or watch TCM πŸ™‚ Anyway, thanks for dropping by πŸ™‚

  6. Yeah, check out House of Games cause it is very good and for my money, the best of the films that David Mamet directed from his own scripts – his subsequent films as director of his own scripts have been uneven. Speaking of title sequences, I will single out Saul Bass as one of the most iconic (he designed the title sequences for The Man With the Golden Arm, Vertigo, Anatomy of a Murder and Psycho to name just a few). Anyway, thanks for dropping by πŸ™‚

  7. Glad to see you give this film some exposure. I always thought it was underrated. I hope all is well my friend.

  8. At the very least, House of Games ranks as David Mamet’s best film as a director – as you could tell, I prefer it when his scripts are directed by others. Anyway, thanks for dropping by πŸ™‚

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