6.9/10
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Tea with Mussolini (1999)

Un tè con Mussolini (original title)
PG | | Comedy, Drama, 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 (screenplay), Franco Zeffirelli (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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:

Comedy | Drama | 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:

Tea with Mussolini See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,633,183, 16 May 1999

Gross USA:

$14,401,563

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$14,401,563
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

Last cinema film of Michael Williams. 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 Last Man Standing: Mother Fracker (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Moonlight Magic
Written & Performed by Alan Moorhouse
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Acting is Amazingly Good in Intriguing Tale

This film is directed and co-authored by Franco Zeffirelli, and I couldn't resist speculating on how much of it was actually true, since it is said to be based on Zeffirelli's autobiography. However, true in part, true completely, in the end it doesn't really matter. What matters is the amazing ensemble acting by Maggie Smith, Cher, Joan Plowwright, Judi Dench and Lily Tomlin (listing them in the order of significance to the story) and the stunning beauty of Florence where the film is set. The director and photographer plainly love the city, matching the love for it of the characters. Maggie Smith as the widow of a former British ambassador, the character that actually has tea with Mussolini, is the dominant figure in the film. However, Cher, playing a wealthy American -- vulgar in the eyes of he British ladies -- who turns out to be a complex, philanthropic Jew who must be smuggled out of the country in the end; Joan Plowwright as a kind lady who takes in the bastard son of an Italian businessman and teaches him to be an English gentleman; Judi Dench as an eccentric artist whose passion is to preserve a renaissance fresco from the Nazis during the war, and Lily Tomlin as a lesbian American archaeologist all deliver sterling performances. Cher's performance is the most amazing -- she holds her own in formidable company -- but one expects, of course, to be dazzled by Maggie Smith, Joan Plowwright, Judi Dench and even by Lily Tomlin. It's a sentimental, even melodramatic, tale, but see it for the ensemble acting. I can't think of another film that equals Tea with Mussolini in that respect.


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