6.9/10
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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

Arabella's dog Nikki is actually the director's dog. See more »

Goofs

Elsa has cried her make up off and her hair is a mess right before she escapes. Then when she is waiting to meet the boat to take her to her freedom she is well coiffed and her face is beautifully made up. Her eyes are no longer red from crying. 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 Texas Chain Saw Massacre: The Shocking Truth (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

Mattinata Fiorentina
Written by D'Anzi, Galdieri
Performed by Alberto Rabagliati
See more »

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User Reviews

Simply Wonderful
4 February 2004 | by spanishflea50See all my reviews

This film is one of the most touching and lovely films that I have seen in many years. Its gaggle of actresses are second to none and turn out excellant performance, Joan Plowright in particular brings an irresistable sweetness to the role. People who have commented on the film so far seem to have neglected to mention the soundtrack which is beautiful and inspiring with a wonderful piano piece. Criticism that the film is too old fashioned or that the characters are unappealing and pompous seems to miss the point, the very charm of Hester (Maggie Smith in particular)is how she overcomes her snobbery at the end and realises how much Elsa (Cher, who in any other film would doubtless be misplaced but in this case fits the role like a glove) has done for the Scorpioni. In short the film is a relic of a gentler age and is simultaniously uplifting, upsetting and relaxing. I implore everyone to hunt down the soundtrack on CD to the ends of the earth if necissary.


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