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Mena Suvari plays Sandy Murphy, a former stripper mixed up in "Sex and
Lies in Sin City," a 2008 TV movie also starring Matthew Modine as Ted
Binion and Johnathon Schaech as Rick Tabish, Marcia Gay Harden as
Binion's sister Becky and Peter Haskell as Ian Miller.
The film is based on the true story of the death of Vegas casino owner Ted Binion and the subsequent arrest of his girlfriend Sandy and her boyfriend, Rick Tabish. The producers wanted to stick closely to the facts of the case, and they probably did. However, they left out one of the most interesting parts of the case. When Sandy was brought in for trial, she was sitting across, not next to, Rick Tabish, and she gave him a devastating smile that left no doubt as to their relationship. It was picked up by the cameras in the courtroom - it's a shame that moment was left out of this movie.
Ted Binion was a drug addict who smoked heroin and took Xanax, among other things, but he was filthy rich. He meets Murphy in a strip club, and the two become involved. At one point, he has Tabish, a contractor, dig a concrete vault in the desert, where he hid silver bullion amounting to something like $7 million. Eventually Sandy and Tabish become lovers. Tabish was caught raiding the vault after Binion died, and his rare silver coins disappeared from his safe.
The question is, did Binion die of an overdose or was he helped along by Sandy and Tabish? If you're not familiar with the case, I won't give it away. From the beginning of the film, it's played somewhat ambiguously so that the viewer isn't sure.
The acting is strong, particularly from Modine and Hardin. Hardin is very Mercedes McCambridge in this playing a tough-talking, strong woman who is sure Murphy is guilty. Modine as the drug-addicted, paranoid and sometimes violent Binion does an excellent job. Suvari bears a resemblance to the real-life Murphy, though she's younger and fresher. She's good, but not great. The handsome Johnathon Schaech gives her steady support. In real life, with the exception of Murphy, none of the characters were as good-looking as the people who portray them.
Ian Miller, an wealthy old man who takes an interest in helping Sandy, is played by Peter Haskell. He has always been a favorite actor of mine. He looked very old in this movie, but it's always great to see him.
This is a good little made for TV movie.
I really enjoyed this because I live in Las Vegas and am familiar with the Ted Binion scandal. I thought it was very well portrayed by some excellent actors. As other reviews have said, I am quite sure that none of these characters were as good looking or exciting as they were in this particular movie. Matthew Modine was very convincing as a mogul on his way down due to his heroin addiction. Mira Sorvino plays an excellent temptress. Marcia Gay Harden played a great Becky Binion. I am highly fascinated by all movies and things "vegas" and I think most of the population is also. That's what makes this and all other movies and shows centered in Las Vegas so popular.
All in all - a very enjoyable movie to watch - I highly recommend you catch it!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Made-for-TV tale about one of the biggest scandals in Las Vegas
history. Do doubt there are liberties taken in depicting the actual
events that took place in this 'Sin City' legend. But for television, a
pretty saucy presentation. Ted Binion(Matthew Modine), a prince among
Vegas royalty, is the owner of the world famous Horseshoe Casino and
can be expected to always be wild, rowdy and randy. Rich enough to make
up his own rules, but always under the watchful eye of sister
Becky(Marcia Gay Harden).
This shocking tale of love gone bad begins with Ted losing his mind falling head over heals in love with an attractive stripper Sandy Murphy(Mena Suvari). Deception, greed and larceny comes to the forefront when Ted is found dead of an apparent overdose. Nothing real surprising, but it unravels into a very suspicious homicide with all eyes looking at the beautiful Sandy and her boyfriend(Johnathon Schaech), who was paid a small fortune by Ted to bury over seven million dollars in silver bricks in the desert.
I would have loved to seen this made for theaters featuring less restrictions and all the things that make for a strong R rating, if you know what I mean. Modine, although good in the role, seems more than a little over the top...but then again, so was Binion. On the other hand, how could you not enjoy Suvari? Also in the cast: Peter Haskell, Mark Brooks, Michelle Greathouse and Kathryn Zenna.
Vegas stripper Sandy Murphy (Mena Suvari) rejects an offer from Ted
Binion (Matthew Modine) claiming not to be a hooker. This only riles
him up. Three years later, she comes home to find him dead. He is Vegas
royalty and a drug addict. He was stripped of his license seven months
before for his drug use and ties to a mob figure. The police
investigates as Ted's sister Becky Binion (Marcia Gay Harden) battles
Sandy and her boyfriend Rick Tabish (Johnathon Schaech). Rick is
arrested for digging up Ted's stash of silver in the desert.
It's an interesting real life story. It seems to be going for a comedic take which isn't that funny. The story would work better as a murder mystery but Sandy is never portrayed as possibly being guilty. That takes all the tension away from the story and the trial. It's a Lifetime TV movie that needs to be more cinematic and dramatic.
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