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Tea with Mussolini (1999)

An orphaned Italian boy is raised among a circle of British and American women living in Mussolini's Italy before and during the Second World War.

Director:

Franco Zeffirelli

Writers:

John Mortimer, Franco Zeffirelli (autobiography)

On Disc

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Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 4 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Cher ... Elsa Morganthal Strauss-Armistan
Judi Dench ... Arabella
Joan Plowright ... Mary Wallace
Maggie Smith ... Lady Hester Random
Lily Tomlin ... Georgie Rockwell
Baird Wallace Baird Wallace ... Luca
Charlie Lucas Charlie Lucas ... Luca (Child)
Massimo Ghini Massimo Ghini ... Paolo Guarnieri
Paolo Seganti ... Vittorio Fanfanni
Claudio Spadaro Claudio Spadaro ... Mussolini
Mino Bellei Mino Bellei ... Cesare
Paul Chequer ... Wilfred Random, aka Miss Lucy
Tessa Pritchard Tessa Pritchard ... Connie Raynor
Michael Williams ... British Consul
Paula Jacobs Paula Jacobs ... Molly
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Storyline

In 1935 a group of elderly British women, whom 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... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A story of civilized disobedience

Genres:

Drama | Comedy | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

MGM

Country:

Italy | UK

Language:

English | Italian

Release Date:

14 May 1999 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Chá com Mussolini See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£123,788 (United Kingdom), 4 April 1999, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,633,183, 16 May 1999, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$14,348,123, 24 October 1999
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Cattleya,Cineritmo,Medusa Film See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Maggie Smith & Judi Dench did several more films together: "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel", its sequel, and Ladies in Lavender. See more »

Goofs

The tanks the Germans ride in are, in fact, U.S. Army M4 Shermans, not German-built Panzers. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Alternate Versions

The MGM DVD, ISBN 0-7928-4300-2, is missing least one shot: The original tea with Mussolini scene ends with Mussolini forcing himself upon the reporter, forcing her onto his desk (i.e., he rapes her.) This DVD omits that ending and leaves the reporter's change in behavior unexplained. See more »

Connections

Features A Bridge Too Far (1977) See more »

Soundtracks

Moonlight Magic
Written & Performed by Alan Moorhouse
See more »

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User Reviews

Cher and an all-star cast make this wartime soaper memorable
7 June 2007 | by Emaisie39See all my reviews

After nearly 20 years as a top pop and television star, Cher suddenly skyrocketed to film stardom in the mid-80's, walked off with an Academy Award, ranked among the top ten box-office stars and just as suddenly disappeared from the big screen in 1991 after one last hit "Mermaids"(1990) cleaned up at cinemas. In 1999 she made a tremendous comeback with a multimillion selling CD "Believe"(Warner Bros, 1998) and most impressively returned to the big screen with a luminous performance in Franco Zefferelli's "Tea With Mussolini"(MGM,1999). Reviews were mixed but after I saw this in the movie theater, I felt the film was rather good. Based on an autobiography by Zefferelli recounting his early years trying to survive the Nazi-Mussolini atrocities of WWII. During this dangerous time Zefferelli was protected by a coterie of socialite dowagers played splendidly by Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright, Lily Tomlin and of course Cher who was perfectly cast as a gorgeous Jewish chanteuse. The story has some holes and the film was probably edited down too much for its US release that cause some continuity issues but this is overall a charming, thoughtful period piece highlighted by Cher at her latter day peak. Shame this success did not resuscitate her dormant film career. She has made nothing of note since.


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