Tea With Mussolini 1999

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(124) IMDb 6.9/10
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Semi-autobiographical tale from the early life of director Franco Ziffirelli.

Starring:
Joan Plowright, Cher
Rental Formats:
DVD

Product Details

Discs
  • Feature parental_guidance
Runtime 1 hour 57 minutes
Starring Joan Plowright, Cher, Judi Dench
Director Franco Zeffirelli
Genres Comedy, Drama
Rental release 3 March 2002
Main languages English

Other Formats

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 Dec 2001
Format: VHS Tape
Set in Florence in the 1930s and 1940s - in a haven for English 'gentility' where tea is served at 4 o'clock precisely each tranquil afternoon.
A declaration of war is a mere detail since securing the 'word' of Il Duce that their safety was in his personal guarantee at a tea party so magnanimously hosted by the man himself.
How could the word of such a nice man be doubted since, after all, he made the trains run on time, didn't he!
With the grim reminders of war reverberating in their ears, how were they to prevail?
This moving and compassionate film is studded with marvelous one-liners from Maggie Smith aimed mainly at Cher's character who shares the limelight equally with a powerful cast, including Jean Plowright and Dame Judy Dench.
A 'must see' movie, no question.
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60 of 64 people found the following review helpful By J. Hutchings on 28 Dec 2006
Format: DVD
I caught this film a few years ago on Channel 4 (in England), and was quite taken with its story telling. One cannot but notice the stellar cast - Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Joan Plowright, Lily Tomlin and, believe it or not, Cher. They, however, do not dominate the film, nor does it become a case of watching actors trying to out-act each other. Much more, each plays a gracious part to the other, allowing the story to come through.

The cinematography is excellent, with San Gimignano and Florence caught beautifully. The music score is supportive and well-written without drowning the scenes in emotion.

All in all, the film comes across as very 'English' (or rather, what 'English' once was) - balanced, gracious, never too much and always polite. If anything, the film is worth £7 just for Maggie Smith's line at the end.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 22 Sep 2004
Format: VHS Tape
Directed by Franco Zeffirelli, who also wrote the screenplay with John Mortimer, this (1999) semi-autobiographical tale revolves around an illegitimate Italian child named Luca, whose wealthy father provides financial support but otherwise ignores him. Taken under the wing of Mary Wallace (Joan Plowright), one of a group of British women who have remained in Italy during the rule of Mussolini, he learns English and enjoys the only stability he has ever known. When Italy allies itself with Germany, his father sends him off to school in Germany, but Luca remains close to "Miss Mary."
Lady Hester Random (Maggie Smith), artist Arabella (Judi Dench), and several other expatriots, are all in Mary Wallace's very British social circle. Under Lady Hester's direction, they are insulated, self-satisfied, and exclusive, and regard people like Elsa Morganthau-Strauss, an American parvenu and art-collector (Cher), as beneath them. She mockingly refers to them as the "scorpioni," an opinion shared by Georgie, an American archaeologist (Lily Tomlin). When the fascists threaten their lifestyle, Lady Hester, widow of the former ambassador, has tea with Mussolini, who promises to look after her and her friends personally. When war breaks out, however, promises are broken, and it is up to Luca, back from Germany, to try to help.
The level of irony is suggested in the title, as the "scorpioni" refuse to believe that Mussolini's "ungentlemanly" behavior could possibly affect them.
Read more ›
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By John Lightfoot on 11 July 2009
Format: DVD
We were recommended to buy this after visiting San Gemignano in Italy. It is a UNESCO site where the most recent building was constructed in the 1400's. We thought it would be a bit corny and there is no doubt the producers took some license in portraying the village, however we immensely enjoyed the movie itself. A great cast and well acted, it is a good portrayal of life in the time prior to and during the Second World War in Italy - as seen through the eyes of well to do English women. We will be watching it again and I am sure again.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Neil Carmichael on 29 Jan 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
A real "tour de force" by Maggie Smith in the rôle of the English "Grande Dame". The other senior ladies of English film provide more subtle but effective support. The movie concentrates on the phlegmatic and courageous stance of a group of ladies who aren't going to let something as trivial as a world war upset their way of life in fascist Italy.
It's true that the movie wavers on the edge of sentimentality, but it is also very funny. It would come off equally well on the stage as it does in film, the whole point being the interactions between the characters involved. Surprisingly(for me), the casting of Cher in the rôle of loud wealthy American, as a foil to Smith as the stubborn and snobbish English Bourgeoise, works surprisingly well. This movie is different, engaging and supremely well acted.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 16 Jun 2004
Format: VHS Tape
An underlying serious drama produced in a clever humorous style, with a superb acting cast,creating maximum impact and food for thought. I look forward to seeing the film again.
For the student of the language, the Italian, when spoken, was great along with the vernacular and other colloquial expressions. The sub-titles were pretty good!
I am buying this video as a gift for my very mature Italian professoressa, who did live through some of the times depicted and hails from the region.
It is a pleasure to see the beautiful countryside and revisit San Giminagno.
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