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 (Dame Joan Plowright), works as the English secretary for Paolo Innocente (Massimo Ghini), who, in part because of his own wife's adamant refusal, largely neglects his illegitimate adolescent son, Luca (Baird Wallace), 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 ...Written by
While also known as a musician, this was the first time actress Cher actually sang in a movie. See more »
Elsa is referred to as "a Jew". Until long after World War II, a female Jew in Europe was referred to as "a Jewess". See more »
The love affair between the artistically-inclined English community and Florence was soon to be overshadowed by the clouds of war.
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.
Excuse me, are you the Consul?
Connie Raynor of the Morning Post. I'm fascinated to know what His Majesty's Consul in Florence makes of it all?
I can't believe your readers would be interested...
[...] See more »
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 »
Cher and an all-star cast make this wartime soaper memorable
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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