The film follows the exploits of film actor Jack Noah (Dreyfuss), who is filming in the small, fictional South American country of Parador when Paradorian President Alfonse Simms, a Pinochet-style dictator, suddenly dies of a heart attack.
Not wanting to lose his position in power, the president’s right-hand man, Roberto Strausmann (Raul Juliá) forces Jack to take the ‘role of a lifetime’ – that of the dead president, as the two men look so much alike. Jack accepts, eventually winning over the people and even the dead president’s mistress, Madonna (Sonia Braga). However, when paradise proves to be too boring, Jack needs to find a way to get out while keeping Roberto out of the loop.
Moon over Parador is a 1988 romantic comedy film, starring Richard Dreyfuss, Raúl Juliá and Sonia Braga. It is a remake of the 1939 film The Magnificent Fraud, based on the unpublished short story entitled Caviar for His Excellency by Charles G. Booth.
In the beginning, while both the President and Jack are in the scene, the President is played by Dreyfuss’ older brother Lorin. During a scene where Jack has to address the crowd as the Paradorian President, he ad-libs his lines and uses the text for the song “The Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha. Sammy Davis Jr.’s rendition of Parador’s national anthem is sung against the music for “Bésame Mucho”. The previous Paradorian National Anthem (“O Parador”) is sung to the tune of “O Christmas Tree”.
Director Paul Mazursky appears uncredited in drag, playing Simms’ mother. Mazursky’s wife Betsy appears at a buffet table and asks, “Por favor, is it safe to eat this lettuce here?” His daughter, Jill, plays the assistant director of the second film crew to shoot in Parador.
Moon Over Parador (1988)
Directed by: Paul Mazursky
Starring: Richard Dreyfuss, Raul Julia, Sonia Braga, Jonathan Winters, Fernando Rey, Sammy Davis Jr., Michael Greene, Polly Holliday, Marianne Sägebrecht
Screenplay by: Leon Capetanos
Production Design by: Pato Guzman
Cinematography by: Donald McAlpine
Film Editing by: Stuart H. Pappé
Costume Design by: Albert Wolsky
Set Decoration by: Alexandre Meyer
Art Direction by: Marcos Flaksman
Music by: Maurice Jarre
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Release Date: September 9, 1988