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Tea With Mussolini (Widescreen/Full Screen) [Import]

4.4 out of 5 stars 82 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright, Cher, Lily Tomlin
  • Directors: Franco Zeffirelli
  • Writers: Franco Zeffirelli, John Mortimer
  • Producers: Clive Parsons, Frederick Muller, Giovannella Zannoni, Marco Chimenz, Pippo Pisciotto
  • Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, DVD-Video, Full Screen, Letterboxed, Widescreen, NTSC, Import
  • Language: English, French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: PG
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • Release Date: Nov. 23 1999
  • Run Time: 117 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 82 customer reviews
  • ASIN: 630560097X
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Product Description


In filming this semi-autobiographical account of life in Italy during the dawn of World War II, director Franco Zeffirelli imbues Tea with Mussolini with the mixed blessings of fond reminiscence. It's a warmly inviting film, as impeccable as any Merchant-Ivory production, but like a hazy memory it's uncertain in its narrative intentions. And yet with an exceptional cast to compensate, the film's as engaging as it is inconsequential.

Zeffirelli's alter ego is Luca (Charlie Lucas in youth; Baird Wallace as a teenager), who is raised in Florence by Mary (Joan Plowright), the middle-aged secretary of his absentee father. Luca lives among a loose band of British and American women, nicknamed "Il Scorpioni" for their stinging wit in the shadows of Mussolini's thuggish dictatorship. Along with Mary there's Hester (Maggie Smith), a crusty ambassador's widow; Arabella (Judi Dench), a lively bohemian; lesbian archaeologist Georgie (Lily Tomlin); and Elsa (Cher), a flamboyant American who quietly finances Luca's education.

Il Scorpioni witness the rise of fascism and the dangers of resistance, weathering dictatorial custody and (in Elsa's case) falling prey to heartbreaking betrayal. But Tea with Mussolini carries little dramatic weight; you have to forgive its unfocused structure to appreciate its merits. Zeffirelli gently conveys the passage from pleasantry to wartime, and he's drawn uniformly fine performances from this seasoned cast. If the film is vaguely unsatisfying, it's only because it had the makings of greatness and settles instead for an ethereal quality of anecdotal enchantment. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Director and writer Franco Zeffirelli - with the assistance of veteran writer John Mortimer - gives a coming of age film a cutting edge. Tea with Mussolini is a mixture of warm and chilly memories.
It has impeccable production values and the footage of tuscany alone is worth the price of ticket, but there is much more going on.
Zeffirelli's charcter is Luca - first played by Charlie Lucas in youth; and Baird Wallace when older. I liked the subtle reference to Romeo and Juliet that he was later to direct.
He is abandoned by his useless father who pays for an education and wants to forget about him. He is raised in Florence by Mary (Joan Plowright), the middle-aged secretary of his father but is basically shared among a band of British and American women, who adore Italian art.
A cast features Maggie Smith as the impossible British lady, an art enthusiast played by Judi Dench, a lesbian archaeologist played by Lily Tomlin, and an astonishing rich and flambouyant Elsa, played by Cher, in her best role to date.
Set against the rise of fascism, the incredible inhumanity of man, is balanced by a small group of women look after each other. Tea with Mussolini is a fine film that seems to float over the dark chasms it covers.
Totally recommended
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Format: DVD
"Tea with Mussolini" portrays the beautiful Italian landscape and the superb acting of the incredible Maggie Smith, Judy Dench, Joan Plowright, Lilly Tomlin and the lovely Cher; however, in spite of these virtues the movie can be quite slow and even tedious at times and does not have the magic of other "Italian" films that come to mind such as "Enchanted April" and "A room with a view".
This is a story of a few lives intertwined by circumstance and World War II. Luca, an illegitimate child, unwanted by his father, is raised by the loving and patient Mary Wallace who is helped by a group of English ladies. Luca's father has a notion of making him "an English Gentlemen", a notion that soon changes according to the new political winds to become a wish of making him a "German businessman".... We meet the "Scorpions", a group of British ladies living in pre world war II Florence, headed by Maggie Smith who plays the widow of the British Ambassador - as she never fails to remind everyone. Scorpions is a nickname invented by Elsa, a rich American performer (Cher) who both laughs at and likes the group. Elsa becomes the benefactor of Luca and opens a trust for him, a favor he will return in the years to come.
I confess that the mixture of Italian charm with British ladies usually works for me and any film bringing us this excellent group of actors cannot be bad. However, "Tea with Mussolini" is not always credible and the characters are somewhat exaggerated. The war remains in the background, as something nor the ladies nor the viewers are able to fully grasp. The ladies would not leave Italy due to their love of the place and their naïve belief in Mussolini and an effort is made to show how their lives are affected.
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By A Customer on April 26 2003
Format: DVD
If you were unexpectedly swept away by Zeff's Romeo & Juliet when they forced you to watch it in high school english class (or have had any connection with any of his other films along the way), then this film will seem to fill in pieces of why, where, how that perspective come out of this particular human being. While it is only semi-autobiographical, it is a stunning look at coming of age with eyes that land behind a camera trying to share a single view with the many heads and eyes of the wide movie audiences of the world. The ensemble cast is the effortless mixed fabric of a multi-layered world. The locations are stunningly filmed. And the vulnerable emotions shared should move anyone with even a quarter of a beating human heart. If you are with a "man" like the reviewer previous to moi, one who finds it "boring" and made for "women", then you are with a *person* who may not be ready for open communications where an individual risks expression with others. But I have personally seen the film with several other men and women who were emotionally available in general, and we all adored this film.
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Format: DVD
Tea With Mussolini is director Franco Zefferilli's partly autobiographical account of the experiences of a boy named Luca in Fascist Italy. The story begins just before German declares war on Poland in 1939 and ends with the liberation of Italy by the Allied Forces in 1944. During the Second World War, Italy's dictator, Mussolini, was allied with Hitler's Nazi Germany. England and France declared war on both counties in 1939, and by late 1941, America had done the same. Prior to the war, there were numerous British and American expatriates who lived permanently abroad. Many of these lived in small colonies in Italy. Not political by nature, many of these people paid scant attention to the growing threat of war. As a result, they went from privileged people with very pleasant lives to prisoners of war.
It is in this unstable and dangerous situation that we find young Luca. He is the illegitimate son of an Italian clothing merchant and a dress maker. When his mother dies, Luca put is in a school. His father is too concerned about his marriage and his social position to have much concern. His nominal guardian is the middle-aged Mary [Joan Plowright], an English employee of his father's. As Luca's situation continues to deteriorate, Mary finds herself more or less stuck with the child. She loves him, but she's a spinster and feels unable to cope with the task. She turns to some of her female British friends, and they all set out to raise him. When the war breaks out, this becomes an almost insurmountable problem when the ladies lose all rights and freedoms.
There are those who have found the plot to be both improbably and somewhat maudlin. I don't disagree entirely, but I find that Tea With Mussolini's assets far outweigh these issues.
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