XFINITY On Demand: Leonard Maltin Highlights Mamet and Chayefsky

Film critic Leonard Maltin. ((Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Film critic Leonard Maltin. ((Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

There’s nothing more exciting than seeing a film you know little or nothing about and feeling as if you’ve made a discovery. I hope these two movies [now available on XFINITY On Demand*] will do that for you.

House of Games‘ is a Hitchcock-like thriller that marked the directing debut for playwright David Mamet, who’s always had a fascinating with con artists. Lindsay Crouse stars as an uptight psychiatrist and best-selling author of self-help books who tries to help a patient with a heavy gambling debt by delving into his world. She becomes involved with a slick confidence man, played by Joe Mantegna, and his team of accomplices, hoping to learn from them. It doesn’t take long before she’s roped into a complicated scheme involving a cache of money…and she soon finds herself in over her head in this taut, brilliantly-conceived drama where you’re never sure who’s on the level. The cast includes such Mamet mainstays as J.T. Walsh, Ricky Jay, and a young William H. Macy.


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If you remember the classic movie ‘Network,’ you may have some idea of what’s in store when celebrated writer Paddy Chayefsky turns his fury on the subject of “The Hospital” in a movie of the same name—in a screenplay that won him an Academy Award. George C. Scott is the weary head of staff in an institution that seems to border on the brink of sanity at every turn. When Scott meets his latest patient, a screwloose woman played by Diana Rigg, the farcical film takes a more serious turn—but that’s the beauty of this movie, which uses black comedy, even farce, to deal with a deadly serious subject and make it palatable, even uproarious at times. Just pray that the next time you visit a hospital it isn’t anything like this one.

These two films offer provocative, grown-up entertainment—and while they’re several decades old they haven’t lost any of their power or punch.

* Note: These picks, which start at $0.99, may not be available in all areas.


The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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