6.9/10
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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

at Amazon

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
Judi Dench ... Arabella
Joan Plowright ... Mary
Maggie Smith ... Lady Hester
Lily Tomlin ... Georgie
Baird Wallace Baird Wallace ... Luca
Charlie Lucas Charlie Lucas ... Luca (child)
Massimo Ghini ... Paolo
Paolo Seganti ... Vittorio
Claudio Spadaro ... Mussolini
Mino Bellei Mino Bellei ... Cesare
Paul Chequer ... Wilfred
Tessa Pritchard Tessa Pritchard ... Connie
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

Plot Keywords:

lesbian | italy | english | american | art | See All (191) »

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

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

Thirty years earlier, Maggie Smith starred in The Prime of Miss Jeam Brodie (1969), as another misguided woman who worshiped Mussolini. 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

Features A Bridge Too Far (1977) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

Charming period drama, beautifully played.
2 May 2002 | by rondavSee all my reviews

I had wanted to see this film for some time and when the opportunity finally materialised I was enthralled. It is probably the best performance I have seen by Maggie Smith, who often seems to be playing the same character actually. But this is her best since Miss Jean Brodie, and Joan Plowright, Judi Dench, Lily Tomlin and Cher are all equally impressive.

The settings are skilfully designed to draw the viewer in, and when you are setting your movie in Florence and its environs you can't go wrong anyway. The ongoing clash between two worlds i.e. Lady Hester Random (Maggie Smith) versus Elsa (Cher) reaches a satisfying resolution which it would be unfair to reveal.

There are splendid comic vignettes mixed into the overall drama. Judi Dench and her dog being thrown out of the cathedral, sharply contrasts with the chilling moment when the Jewish arts professor is taken away by the Gestapo. Understated but none the less effective, probably more so, because of it.

If you haven't seen this film, see it as soon as you can.


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