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House of Cards [DVD] [1990]

Ian Richardson , David Lyon    Suitable for 15 years and over   DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (362 customer reviews)
Price: £7.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Frequently Bought Together

House of Cards [DVD] [1990] + State Of Play: Complete BBC Series [2003] [DVD] + The State Within : Complete BBC Series [2006] [DVD]
Price For All Three: £16.85

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Product details

  • Actors: Ian Richardson, David Lyon, Diane Fletcher
  • Writers: Andrew Davies
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: 2entertain
  • DVD Release Date: 8 April 2013
  • Run Time: 642 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (362 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00BM8STW0
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 420 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



Political drama doesn't get more near the knuckle than Michael Dobbs' House of Cards trilogy, adapted for the screen by Andrew Davies and originally broadcast in the post-Thatcher years of the early 1990s. A splendid dissection of naked ambition, greed and rampant hypocrisy in the corridors of power, the original four-part series House of Cards documents in thrilling detail the rise of Tory Chief Whip Francis Urquhart (magnificent Ian Richardson), a man who likes to "put the stick about a bit" and has unwavering contempt for those with "no background, no bottom". With the downfall of Margaret Thatcher, a bitter internecine power struggle ensues within the Conservative Party. Urquhart schemes more devilishly than Iago to depose Thatcher's colourless John Major-style successor. And even Machiavelli would baulk at Urquhart's methods: any and every act--including murder--are legitimate as the end very much justifies the means. Idealistic journalist Matti Storin (Susannah Harker) becomes embroiled in Urquhart's nefarious plans (and ends up in his bed) as she attempts to question him about what's really going on: "You might think so, I couldn't possibly comment," is Urquhart's mantra of hypocrisy.

In To Play the King, the second part of the trilogy, we find our anti-hero comfortably installed as PM at No. 10 but facing a fresh challenge in the person of the newly crowned King (Michael Kitchen in a pitch-perfect Prince Charles impersonation), who wears his social conscience on his sleeve and publicly opposes Urquhart's hardline policies. With the help of political analyst and new mistress Sarah Harding (Kitty Aldridge), as well as that of his ambitious wife Elizabeth (Diane Fletcher), Urquhart is forced to resort to still more underhand plots. Then, in The Final Cut, we find Urquhart determined to last as long in office as Mrs Thatcher (whose statue, much to his chagrin, is about to be unveiled in front of his window). But ambitions to make a mark on the world stage, as well as his wife's desire to provide themselves a comfortable retirement nest egg, lead him into the choppy international waters of the Cyprus situation. The temptations of corrupt businessmen and his wife's goading might just have pushed Urquhart's luck too far this time.

Throughout, Richardson is a delight as the hypocritical, arrogant patrician who loathes the hoi polloi whose favour he must court at election time, and manipulates all his minions with a ruthless singlemindedness of purpose. However much a monster he seems, though, the viewer might just find themselves secretly admiring his determination and his lion-like strength of will: in contrast to many drab modern politicians, at least he knows what he wants, and makes sure he gets it. If it's strong leadership you want, Urquhart's your man.

On the DVD: The House of Cards trilogy has the three four-part series on three double-sided discs, with two hour-long episodes on each side of each disc. The first episodes come with a commentary from Andrew Davies and Ian Richardson, who share their memories and anecdotes. --Mark Walker

Product Description

House of CardsThis is a classic BBC drama that proves the original is still the best (in our opinion!) Starring: Ian Richardson, Susannah Harker, Nicholas Selby, James Villiers, David Lyon. Directed by: Paul Seed.. The PM made a deadly mistake when he passed over Francis Urquhart (Ian Richardson). With his recent dire performance in the general election, he's going to need all the friends he can get. But Urquhart won't be ignored by anyone and now he's out for revenge.. As the trusted Chief Whip, he has his hands on every grubby little secret in politics, and with innocent journalist Mattie Storin unwittingly drawn into his web, he'll stop at nothing to get what he wants. House of Cards is a black tale of greed, corruption and burning ambition. Based on the best selling novel by Michael Dobbs, a former aide to Margaret Thatcher. This is a sublime drama, performed by a magnificent cast set. This set includes, House Of Cards, To Play The King and Final Cut.. DVD Extras: Commentary on one episode from each series with Ian Richardson, Andrew Davies and Ken Riddington.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
152 of 156 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellence in television 15 April 2006
The House of Cards saga is a tremendous achievement in television: expert direction including the use of 'piece to camera' monologues, beautifully constructed tension and an acting triumph by the main player, Ian Richardson. If shows like the West Wing capture our ideal politics, then House of Cards drenches it all in filthy water.

It is the story of naked, ruthless ambition in British politics that shows a staggering realism whilst at the same time allowing for dramatic flights of story. Richardson's Urquart is beautifully played, and the character makes me uneasy in the same way that the Shield's Vic Mackey does: you absolutely know he's a villain, he has done despicable things but damn.

My only wish for television these days is that they invest in drama like this: it is a thoroughly watchable drama, and gets the full five stars for being so.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It doesn't get much better than this! 28 Oct 2007
By Sophie Masson VINE VOICE
We watched this astonishing series over three white-knuckle days, drawn immediately into the corrupt, cynical, ambitious, frightening, murderous, elegant world of Francis Urqhuart as easily as flies drawn into a spider's web! This is so beautifully plotted, magnificently performed and brilliantly scripted that you run out of superlatives. It also has a marvellously intriguing ''alternative history'' feel that works really well because it evokes both the distant past--the trilogy is stuffed full of Jacobean allusions and atmosphere--but also the less distant past, like the post-Thatcher era, and the present. Political thrillers don't get much better than this!
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118 of 122 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb! 22 July 2004
The House of Cards Trilogy must surely be rated as one of the best contemporary dramas ever made. Ian Richardson's performance is simply breathtaking, and Andrew Davies' scripts the work of a true genius. As well as the stunning central performance by Richardson, the cast and crew as a whole deserve great praise.
And there's a bonus in the shape of commentaries over the first episode of each of the three series by Richardson, Davies and Producer Ken Riddington, which are both enlightening and at times amusing.
Would I recommend the purchase of this DVD set? You might very well think that...
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc 25 Oct 2008
Sorry about the title but it seems so apt - "After it, therefore because of it". I first saw this series when first broadcast way back when and I remember it being brilliant. However I have, in similar fashion, bought other series and programs from my dim and distant past released on DVD and been bitterly disappointed when I watched them (testament to a fading memory or a desperate attempt to cling on to my childhood). One or two exceptions (Edge of Darkness and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy being most notable) kept my faith. So, I bought it, unwrapped it, placed it in my DVD player and instantly lost the next 4 hours of my life! It is quite simply the best British TV drama the BBC has ever produced! Forget period time pieces (yes, ladies, even Mr. Darcy climbing out of a lake) this is the most engaging TV I have ever seen. Ian Richardson inexorably draws you in to his spider's web of intrigue, you become complicit when he confides in your directly through the camera and you end each episode feeling vaguely guilty and you're not sure why! If you remember HoC first time around, buy it! If you didn't see it first time around, buy it! If you simply appreciate first class, gripping drama and first rate acting, buy it! Otherwise, buy it anyway!
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88 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply the best 20 July 2004
Everything has been said about the artistic merits of this series. Yes, the acting is fantastic, yes the dialogue is sharp, sarcastic and very eloquent and the characters are just wonderfully entertaining to watch. But there are three main reasons why this series is legendary. First, the actual events overtaking the original broadcast with the resignation of Margaret Thatcher, second, the fantastic Ian Richardson, and third, the direct-to-camera acting of the main character, dragging the audience into his evil deeds. I taped the series when it was broadcast over here in Germany, I bought the tapes from the BBC and finally I own the whole thing on DVD. I know it by heart anyway, because I must have seen it a thousand times, and I'm still not tired of it, because Richardson alone makes this so entertaining.
Although the first installment is widely regarded to be the best, i agree with the first two episodes. They are the best of the whole series, and the finale on the rooftop is just shocking, but the overall best series for me always has been "To play the king" because Michael Kitchen is just fabulous as the monarch and strong opponent to Urquhart. The last series "The final cut" has this air of sadness all through it, and is basically a farewell to Urquharts character. He gets what he deserves for sure, but the viewer is left oddly unsatisfied with the end. It's just sad in my view. Overall it is almost eleven hours of high quality political satire with shocking moments, unforgettable bonmots and the best British acting has to offer.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and thought-provoking. 21 May 2013
By Steve
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
I'd heard great things about this series and always meant to get around to watching it, especially given the recent Kevin Spacey remake, and this Blu-ray release was the perfect opportunity. Asides to the camera are usually frowned upon, but Urquhart's character has such a disparity between his thoughts and actions that it works extremely well. It's all very Shakespearean, having strong parallels with Macbeth. Urquhart's politics are as frighteningly relevant today as they were in the Thatcher/Major years.

The picture quality of the Blu-ray is impressive, given that House of Cards (the first of the three mini series) was originally broadcast in 1990. If you have an aversion to the picture not filling the screen, be warned that this is a 4:3 presentation, meaning black bands at both sides on an HDTV. I prefer to watch things the way they were intended to be seen, so this wasn't a problem for me.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
So much better than the US version. Ian Richardson's relationship with the camera ensures viewer involvement
Published 15 hours ago by Stelea
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
As vood as I remembered.
Published 18 hours ago by Frandon
5.0 out of 5 stars F.U. swings his big dick against his cabinet
Well I thought that headline might have got your attention!But it is a quote from the series!

It's just over 10 years since the earliest reviews were written by Amazon... Read more
Published 1 day ago by robert stirling
4.0 out of 5 stars Drunk on Power and Absolutely Corrupting
'House of Cards' charts the dark tale of a ruthless Scotsman (Francis Urquhart - commonly known as FU) who works his way up from Chief Whip to Prime Minister. Read more
Published 2 days ago by LXIX
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
as advertised
Published 3 days ago by na
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent service from seller. Original series knocks spots of the American version.
Published 5 days ago by Margaret Martin
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
just timeless
Published 6 days ago by david walker
3.0 out of 5 stars A racy story with some great caricatures. Acting pretty good too all...
A racy story with some great caricatures. Acting pretty good too all round but Ian Richardson. Saw this when it was first televised and I like it just as much but was a bit... Read more
Published 7 days ago by House Martin
5.0 out of 5 stars Stayed up very late towatch all of this in one go
Stayed up very late to watch all of this in one go. My wife had seen it before but enjoyed it just as much second time round. Now I know where '.... Read more
Published 9 days ago by Mg Ward
1.0 out of 5 stars I hate it
A triumph of perfect casting (Ian Richardson)
Published 10 days ago by C. ENGLISHBY
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