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Tea with Mussolini (1999)

PG | | Drama, Comedy, War | 14 May 1999 (USA)
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 ... 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

Last cinema film of Michael Williams. See more »

Goofs

The ladies protect the frescoes by building a wall around them using sandbags. But the bags are obviously filled with something light and fluffy, such as kapok or cotton. 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

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

Soundtracks

Sulla carrozzella
Written by Filippini, Morbelli
Performed by Odoardo Spadaro
See more »

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User Reviews

I Want to Grow Up with Cher, Judi, Lily, Maggie and Joan
1 June 2004 | by gregorybnycSee 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.


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