Movies Tea With Mussolini (1998, Cher, Judi Dench) Published 8 months ago on October 7, 2018 Set in pre-War ’30s Italy, Zeffirelli’s film centres on a group of elderly English lady expatriates (known as The Scorpioni) whose lives are transformed by the arrival of Luca, the illegitimate and orphaned son of the former employer of Mary Wallace (Joan Plowright). She decides to raise the boy, aided by the haughty Lady Hester (Maggie Smith), the artistic Arabella (Judi Dench) and an occasional appearance by the glamorous (and comparatively vulgar) Elsa (Cher), a wealthy American socialite who sets up a trust fund for the young boy. As Fascism begins to take root in the country, Hester takes it upon herself to contact Il Duce (Claudio Spadaro), who invites her for tea in an elaborate publicity stunt. Years later when the adult Luca (Baird Wallace) returns from an Austrian education he finds the Englishwomen have been interned, with Elsa playing a role in smuggling Jews out of the country. When she asks for his assistance, Luca is reluctant to help, but when he discovers Mussolini’s true intentions he finds himself to be the only hope for the women whose bravery and dedication gave him a better life… The film does rely on a certain suspension of disbelief as, for example, in the scene where Nazis are halted by a British matriach urging them to ‘stop all this nonsense at once’, and men in drag can cast aside their frocks to join the partisans with a cry of, ‘I’m a man’, yet the performances restrain Zeffirell’s excesses, with Cher adding a touch of Garbo. Audiences agreed, with prime-time patronage from the likes of Rosie O’Donnell helping to boost American domestic take, and British audiences taking advantage of the film’s release during a particularly arid cinematic period and falling for the charms of this likeable period drama. production details UK – Italy | 117 minutes | 1999 Writer and Director: Franco Zeffirelli (adapted by John Mortimer) cast Lily Tomlin as Georgie Rockwell Maggie Smith as Lady Hester Random Chris Larkin as Major Gibson Paul Chequer as Wilfred Random, aka Miss Lucy Cher as Elsa Armistan Judi Dench as Arabella Joan Plowright as Mary Wallace Baird Wallace as Luca Charlie Lucas as Luca (Child) Massimo Ghini as Paolo Paolo Seganti as Vittorio Fanfanni Claudio Spadaro as Benito Mussolini Giacomo Gonnella as First Carabiniere Allan Caister Pearce as American Dealer Hermann Weiskopf as German Officer Roberto Farnesi as Maurizio Baird WallaceCharlie LucasCherChris LarkinClaudio SpadaroComedyDramaFranco ZeffirelliJoan PlowrightJohn MortimerJudi DenchLily TomlinMaggie SmithMassimo GhiniPaolo SegantiPaul ChequerWar Advertisement advertisement and this just in Episodes22 hours ago Alien Highway: UFO Recovery (S1EP2 Travel Wed 19 Jun 2019) UFO Recovery: Chuck Zukowski receives a map from an informant that supposedly leads to a hidden cache of recovered materials... 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