Tea with Mussolini

Tea with Mussolini

Franco Zeffirelli (1998)

PG Certificate


Our Score
Franco Zeffirelli here turns the camera onto his own life as a young boy growing up in Mussolini's Italy of the 1930s. Following his mother's death, the young Luca is rescued from the prospect of life in an orphanage by an eccentric group of expatriate women dubbed "Scorpioni". We assume Luca is Zeffirelli himself, not that he's the central character of the film - he's more the eyes through which we see these corseted and costumed women, who are like refugees from a Merchant Ivory drama. Judi Dench, Joan Plowright, Maggie Smith, Lily Tomlin and Cher give boisterously strong performances as the gaggle who gather over tea to gossip, and who act as unofficial minders and teachers to Luca. As it continues, the movie becomes a more conventional series of wartime anecdotes rather than a rich character piece.


Eccentric English and American women living in Florence during the tense pre-war years of the 1930s experience the ups and downs of parenthood when they collectively adopt a local boy disowned by his father. However, as international hostilities break out, their happy existence comes under threat. Period comedy drama, starring Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright, Cher, Lily Tomlin and Baird Wallace.

Cast & Crew

Elsa Cher
Arabella Judi Dench
Mary Joan Plowright
Lady Hester Maggie Smith
Georgie Lily Tomlin
Luca Baird Wallace
Luca (child) Charlie Lucas
Paolo Massimo Ghini
Director Franco Zeffirelli
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Other Information

Language: English, Italian +subtitlesColourTheatrical distributor: U.I.P. (UK)Guidance: May be edited for language. Available on: video and DVD
Drama Comedy