Tea With Mussolini

Tea With Mussolini

4.5 4
Director: Franco Zeffirelli

Cast: Cher, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright

     
 

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Based in part on his autobiography, director Franco Zeffirelli's Tea With Mussolini is a drama with comic accents about a group of British and American travelers on an indefinite visit to Italy in 1935, when, as one character puts it, "Mussolini was just a man who made the trains run on time." Luca (played by Charlie Lucas) is a boy living in Florence whoseSee more details below

Overview

Based in part on his autobiography, director Franco Zeffirelli's Tea With Mussolini is a drama with comic accents about a group of British and American travelers on an indefinite visit to Italy in 1935, when, as one character puts it, "Mussolini was just a man who made the trains run on time." Luca (played by Charlie Lucas) is a boy living in Florence whose family situation is precarious at best; his mother has died and his father has little time for him. Fortunately, he's a welcome guest with Mary (Joan Plowright), a English woman visiting Italy to soak up European culture. Mary and her friends -- high-toned Lady Hester (Maggie Smith), pretentious Arabella (Judi Dench), American art collector Elsa (Cher) and cheerful lesbian Georgie (Lily Tomlin) -- enjoy the cultured, creative atmosphere of life in Italy, and their initial response to the rise of fascism is to arrange a polite meeting with Mussolini to make sure he and his soldiers mean well. After some time, Luca's father becomes concerned that the boy is soaking up too much British influence and enrolls him in a boarding school in Austria; by the time 1940 rolls around, situations have changed radically for everyone.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Brian J. Dillard
This lush, frothy coming-of-age story provides its cast full of British and American grande dames with plenty of beautiful locations and gently comic, slightly cloak-and-dagger scenarios in which to strut their famous personae and acting chops. Cher makes her most enjoyable screen outing in a decade as Elsa, a larger-than-life diva with more affection for her art collection than her many husbands. Lily Tomlin plays another fun, self-mocking lesbian role, while Judi Dench and Maggie Smith work their respective regal and ridiculous schticks to amusing effect. Writer/director Franco Zeffirelli seems to view his war-ravaged childhood through vaguely rose-tinted glasses; the title is meant to be a gentle jab at the proper biddies whose faith in the moral might of the British Empire blinded them to the danger creeping through Europe, but there's a sense here that fascism is simply a backdrop to Auntie Mame-style shenanigans. Although co-writer John Mortimer worked on the screenplay to subtle psycho-horror classic The Innocents, his work here is closer to the hamminess of the Otto Preminger oddity Bunny Lake Is Missing. Still, cinematographer David Watkin and the art team buff the visuals into a gorgeous Merchant-Ivory finish, and the charismatic performances will please fans of low-calorie, vaguely historical treats.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/07/2000
UPC:
0027616791733
Original Release:
1999
Rating:
PG
Source:
Mgm (Video & Dvd)

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Cher Elsa
Judi Dench Arabella
Joan Plowright Mary
Maggie Smith Hester
Lily Tomlin Georgie
Baird Wallace Luca (teenager)
Charlie Lucas Luca (child)
Massimo Ghini Paolo
Paolo Seganti Vittorio
Paul Checquer Wilfred
Tessa Pritchard Connie
Mino Bellei Cesare
Claudio Spadaro Mussolini

Technical Credits
Franco Zeffirelli Director,Screenwriter
Anna Anni Costumes/Costume Designer
Tariq Anwar Editor
Stefano Arnaldi Score Composer
Jenny Beavan Costumes/Costume Designer
Carlo Centolavigna Art Director
Giovanni Corridori Special Effects Supervisor
Ermanno Daelli Costumes/Costume Designer
Leonard Engelman Makeup
Mirta Guarnaschelli Casting
Alessandro Loy Production Manager
Gioia Fiorella Mariani Art Director
Mark Moriarty Camera Operator
John Mortimer Screenwriter
L. Justin Muller Asst. Director
Clive Parsons Producer
Pippo Pisciotto Associate Producer,Asst. Director
Brian Simmons Sound/Sound Designer
Alberto Spiazzi Costumes/Costume Designer
Emma Style Casting
Roberto Tatti Asst. Director
Riccardo Tozzi Producer
Alessio Vlad Score Composer
David Watkin Cinematographer
Giovannella Zannoni Producer

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