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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Film making at its best!
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...
Published on 27 Dec 2001

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good night at the movies
Tea with Mussolini: most enjoyable evening,s entertainment, a very good cast and an absorbing story. would be easy to watch
Published 12 months ago by j.langdale


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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Film making at its best!, 27 Dec 2001
By A Customer
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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57 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An entirely lovely film, 28 Dec 2006
By 
J. Hutchings "jjhutchings" (Framlingham, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Should we change our lives because some idiot wants war?", 22 Sep 2004
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
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. Zeffirelli, alternates semi-serious scenes with extravagant, absurd scenes, much like the comic relief of the Shakespearean plays he has also directed, and he casts the film so that each of his stars plays to type--Maggie Smith as the hopelessly snobby aristocrat, Judi Dench as a fey and flighty artiste, Joan Plowright as the sweet and thoughtful grandmotherly sort, Cher as the most extravagant and crass American ever filmed, and Lily Tomlin as the no-nonsense realist who enjoys sticking pins into those who puff themselves up. The roles do not call for subtlety or originality, but it is great fun to watch these screen legends having fun here.
The gorgeous scenery, art, and architecture of Tuscany are well filmed by David Watkin, and the tone of the film remains light, focusing on the women and Luca almost exclusively. A satiric tale poking fun at everything from American crassness and British class-consciousness to the absurdities of Mussolini's pretentions, the film virtually ignores fascism's serious realities for the sake of the story line and its humor. Mary Whipple
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good film and worthwhile portrayal of the village of San Gemignano., 11 July 2009
By 
John Lightfoot (Sydney Australia) - See all my reviews
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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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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tea with Mussolini, 16 Jun 2004
By A Customer
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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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a wonderful film!, 29 Nov 2009
Superlative performances from an outstanding cast, stunning settings, (San Gimignano in particular) and a charming storyline. What more can one say but superb, enchanting, marvellous, delightful!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Original and wonderfully acted, 29 Jan 2009
By 
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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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every time I watch it I enjoy it even more, 15 Nov 2000
By A Customer
Knowing that this is semi autobiographical just makes it more interesting but the sheer enjoyment for me is - due to the excellent casting - the way all the characters "gel" so well together. I've seen it three times now and each time I pick up something else - you do need to follow closely to catch the whole plot - but with a movie as good as this repeat watching is just more enjoyable and good value for money!!
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As my late husband, the ambassador would have said: splendid entertainment, 4 Oct 2007
By 
Amelrode (Vilvoorde) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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Semi-autobiographical tale from the early life of director Franco Zeffirelli looks at the illegitimate son of an Italian businessman. The boy's mother has died, and he is raised by an Englishwoman (Joan Plowright) in pre-WWII Fascist Italy. Living to each other in Florence, and presided over by an ambassador's widow (Maggie Smith), a group of Englishwomen live a sheltered existence which they believe is guaranteed personal protection in a tea reception given by Il Duce. However, as war breaks out, the women are interned. Occasionally in this English colony is a wealthy American (Cher), who visits among her travels and marriages to wealthy older men. She respects the "Scorpioni", as they are known, and secretly arranges for their stay in a hotel. When the United States enters the war, the American too is taken into custody. Only then does she discover that her Italian lover has tricked her into signing over all her money and modern art collection to him, and is now arranging her execution. This obliges all to join forces.

Tea With Mussolini is great entertainment. It is maybe not the great film so many had thought it would be, but with a true story, great casting and performances, and an interesting setting and time it is highly enjoyable. The female cast was fantastic. In particular Maggie Smith as Lady Hester, the crusty, sharp tongued wife of the former ambassador, Joan Plowright as the sweet but strong grandmotherly type and Julie Dench as the "arty" one. Cher as the brash, nouveau riche American was well cast. The men in general cannot match the female cast. The only objection I have that the characters might be a bit too stereotyped: the film perpetuates the idea of British as tea-drinking stiff upper lippers, Americans as rich, brash, everything is buying but in the end good at heart. Well all in good fun.

I enjoyed every minute of it!
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tea With Mussolini or Tea with 007, 27 Mar 2007
By 
Rob S "Rob S" (Conwy, North Wales) - See all my reviews
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My wife insisted we watch this, I refused and made her watch Casino Royale, but I gave in next time and watched this and I really enjoyed it. I guess even more than the 007 film.

Set during the war in Florence with a group of stubborn older ladies who think Mussolini will protect them during the German occupation, but will he?

A good film to enjoy during a lazy Sunday afternoon, just don't tell my wife I preferred this to Casino Royale.
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Tea With Mussolini [DVD] [1999] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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