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Tea with Mussolini (1999)

PG  |   |  Drama, Comedy, War  |  14 May 1999 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 8,951 users   Metascore: 53/100
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1935. A group of elderly British women, who the Italians have named the Scorpioni, have chosen Italy, specifically Florence, as a place to live to blend their proper British sensibilities ... See full summary »



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Title: Tea with Mussolini (1999)

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Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Baird Wallace ...
Charlie Lucas ...
Luca (Child)
Massimo Ghini ...
Vittorio Fanfanni
Claudio Spadaro ...
Mino Bellei ...
Paul Chequer ...
Wilfred Random, aka Miss Lucy
Tessa Pritchard ...
Connie Raynor
Michael Williams ...
British Consul
Paula Jacobs ...


1935. A group of elderly British women, who the Italians have named the Scorpioni, have chosen Italy, specifically Florence, as a place to live to blend their proper British sensibilities with their love of Italian art and culture. One of those Scorpioni, Mary Walsh, works as the English secretary for Paolo Innocente, who, in part because of his own wife's adamant refusal, largely neglects his illegitimate adolescent son, Luca, despite Paolo's want for Luca to grow up to be a proper young man, much like the English. Luca has lived in an orphanage since his dressmaker mother's death, death a concept that Luca does not yet understand. As such, he often runs away looking for his mother. On a mutual agreement between Paolo and Mary, Mary becomes Luca's guardian, she who will receive help in raising Luca by her fellow Scorpioni and financial help from Paolo as needed. Associated with the Scorpioni is a brash younger nouveau riche Jewish-American woman named Elsa Morgenthal, who, because of... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A story of civilized disobedience


Drama | Comedy | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic elements, language, brief nudity and some mild violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:





Release Date:

14 May 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Chá com Mussolini  »

Box Office


$12,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£123,788 (UK) (2 April 1999)


$14,348,123 (USA) (22 October 1999)

Company Credits

Production Co:

, ,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Vanessa Redgrave and Angela Lansbury were first considered for the roles of Lady Hester and Mary, but due their schedule problems they were replaced by Maggie Smith and Joan Plowright. See more »


The breaking news radio announcement reporting the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor also included information about President Roosevelt's speech the next day and the subsequent US declaration of war against Germany, Japan, and Italy. In effect it was a summary of two days' events and wouldn't be a breaking news announcement. See more »


[first lines]
Title Card: Florence 1935.
Title Card: The love affair between the artistically-inclined English community and Florence was soon to be overshadowed by the clouds of war.
Title Card: But at the moment the sun is still shining on the squares and statues, and the dictator Mussolini is the gentleman who makes the trains run on time.
Connie Raynor: Excuse me, are you the Consul?
British Consul: Yes.
Connie Raynor: Connie Raynor of the Morning Post. I'm fascinated to know what His Majesty's Consul in Florence makes of it all?
British Consul: I can't believe your readers would be ...
See more »


Referenced in The Cinema Snob: Endless Love (2014) See more »


Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
Written by Jerome Kern, Otto A. Harbach
Performed by Cher
See more »

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User Reviews

I Want to Grow Up with Cher, Judi, Lily, Maggie and Joan
1 June 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

TEA WITH MUSSOLINI is Zeffirelli's tribute to his own war-time

upbringing, and while it is undeniably sentimental, it is also a

wonderful movie. A young, illegitimate boy who is rejected by his

father (who is married to another) is raised by his secretary (Joan

Plowright). She is part of a group of English ex-pats living in life on

very fixed incomes in Florence on the eve of WWII. Plowright's

other peers include Maggie Smith as the insufferably snobbish

widow of a consulate, who never lets anyone forget her status.

There's also Judi Dench, an artist, who is a gentle soul and an

animal lover. Lily Tomlin is an American who keeps a watchful eye

on the ladies at the danger comes closer to engulfing them all.

And then there's Cher, the widow of a rich man who comes and

goes throughout Europe in search of good art and a good time. All

these women have come to love the young boy who is now about

14 when the movie begins. Cher, whose character is Jewish is

damn near ruined by a scheming lover, and her life is in danger.

The British contingent has been sent to close quarters in Sienna

where they are forced to live in close proximity to each other, as

prisoners of war. The war is nearly over with the Americans

advancing on Sienna. The young man helps to arrange Cher's

escape and the woman stop bickering long enough to help the

Americans liberate Sienna and all ends happily.

Some have complained that Cher is terrible in this movie.

Nonsense. She's playing a head-strong, independent woman

who is in charge of her own life. This is a variation of the same

theme she has worked as an actress, entertainer and personality

for more than 40 years. The final parting with the young boy is

tear-inducing. Cher looks sensational and gives a heart-felt

performance. The ladies--Dames Joan, Maggie and Judi are

adorable and winning as expected with Lily Tomlin offering a

wonderful portrait of a tough journalist who comes to their support

when the going gets rough. The young boy as Zeffirelli is also

terrific. The scenery is gorgeous, and you can't see too many

stories about interesting, off-beat characters on the loose in Italy

as far as I'm concerned.

53 of 67 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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