House of Cards (1993 film)

House of Cards is a 1993 American drama film co-written and directed by Michael Lessac and starring Kathleen Turner and Tommy Lee Jones. It follows the struggle of a mother to reconnect with her daughter who has been traumatized by the death of her father. The film was completed in 1991 by A&M Films, but was delayed for release. It finally premiered at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival, where it was acquired by Miramax Films for theatrical distribution that June.[3]

House of Cards
DVD cover
Directed byMichael Lessac
Written by
Produced by
CinematographyVictor Hammer
Edited byWalter Murch
Music byJames Horner
A&M Films[1]
Penta Pictures
Distributed byMiramax Films
Release dates
  • January 30, 1993 (1993-01-30) (Sundance)
  • June 25, 1993 (1993-06-25) (United States)
Running time
109 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$322,871[2]


Following the death of her archeologist husband, Ruth Matthews moves her family back to their house in a quiet suburb, hoping to put the past behind them. While her son Michael is able to adapt, her daughter, Sally, is apparently traumatized by the experience and starts displaying unusual behavior, including building an elaborate tower from playing cards and photographs. Ruth is later court mandated to see Jake Beerlander, an expert in child autism, to help Sally.



Michael Lessac originally developed the script as a father-daughter drama, but rewrote it as a mother-daughter story for his friend Kathleen Turner.[4]

Filming began on April 15, 1991 in North Carolina.[4][5] Once filming concluded in North Carolina, the production moved to Villahermosa, Mexico, and the Mayan ruins of Comalcalco.[4]



Twentieth Century Fox and Penta Pictures were scheduled to release the film in March 1992, but after a year-long delay, the film premiered without a distributor as the closing night film of the 1993 Sundance Film Festival on January 30, 1993.[6][4] Miramax acquired distribution rights at Sundance and gave the film a limited release on June 25, 1993.[4] The film also screened at the Houston International Film Festival and the LA Film Festival.[4]

Critical responseEdit

Robert Faires of The Austin Chronicle gave a positive review, writing "Lessac and his company have created and sustained such honest, yearning individuals that when the story reaches its wholly predictable and sentimental finale, its people are not diminished at all. Their pain and love are no less real and they no less worthy of our affection."[7]

Critic Roger Ebert awarded the film 1 out of 4 stars, describing it as "all but inexplicable. It is not interesting, intelligent, plausible, thought-provoking, entertaining or necessary. The synopsis is so absurd it would also seem to be unproduceable."[8] He concluded his review with, "If you want to see acting in a void, watch Tommy Lee Jones' scenes very closely. Here is one of the most interesting actors around. He has been given a ridiculous character, whose dramatic connection to the rest of the film is a mystery. Yet he exudes intensity and concern, and is somehow able to convince us something is happening with his character, even when, in retrospect, it is clear Jones must have been as puzzled as the rest of us."[8]


  1. ^ McNary, Dave (September 24, 1991). "PolyGram increases focus on movie biz". UPI. Retrieved November 30, 2022.
  2. ^ House of Cards at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ "House Of Cards". Archived from the original on March 20, 2012. Retrieved August 23, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "House of Cards (1993)". AFI Catalog. Retrieved November 30, 2022.
  5. ^ Honeycutt, Kirk (January 27, 1991). "Kathleen Turner will star in A&M; Films'..." Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on November 30, 2022. Retrieved November 30, 2022.
  6. ^ "House of Cards Tells Story of Efforts to Help Autistic Girl". Deseret News. January 29, 1993. Retrieved November 30, 2022.
  7. ^ Faires, Robert (July 30, 1993). "House of Cards". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved November 30, 2022.
  8. ^ a b Ebert, Roger (July 2, 1993). "House of Cards". Retrieved November 30, 2022.

External linksEdit