Moon Over Parador
Theatrical release poster by Drew Struzan
Directed byPaul Mazursky
Screenplay byLeon Capetanos
Paul Mazursky
Based onCaviar for His Excellency
by Charles G. Booth
Produced byPaul Mazursky
CinematographyDonald McAlpine
Edited byStuart H. Pappé
Music byMaurice Jarre
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • September 9, 1988 (1988-09-09)
Running time
103 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$20 million
Box office$11,444,204[1]

Moon over Parador is a 1988 American romantic comedy film, starring Richard Dreyfuss, Raul Julia and Sônia 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 It is a remake of the 1939 film The Magnificent Fraud, based on the unpublished short story entitled "Caviar for His Excellency" by Charles G. Booth.


The film follows the exploits of film actor Jack Noah, who is filming in the small, fictional South American country of Parador when Paradorian President Alfonse Simms, a dictator, invites him and the cast and crew to the film at their palace. Simms seems delighted at Jack's imitation of him.

Suddenly, Alfonse Simms dies of a heart attack. Not wanting to lose his position in power, the president's right-hand man, Roberto Strausmann 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 (Braga). For over a year, the two bond, and she shows Jack how the people are suffering under the dictatorship, particularly at the iron hand of Roberto (the real power behind scene) against the rebels.

Jack creates a plan where, in the middle of a show featuring Sammy Davis Jr, he (as Simms) is apparently gunned down by an assassin. Before dying, "Simms" accuses Roberto as the true enemy, leading to his death at the hands of the crowd. Inside a van, Jack escapes. Months later, he is telling the story to his friends, who do not believe him. Jack is happy to learn that Madonna led a revolution and is now the elected president of Parador.



The film was adopted from a 1939 Robert Florey's film The Magnificent Fraud, which plot shares similarities with Moon Over Parador.[2]

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 lyrics 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.


On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 42%, based on 12 reviews, and an average rating of 4.8/10.[3]

Variety called the film "[an] elaborate farce", but also said that "[it] has moments of true hilarity emerging only fitfully from a ponderous production".[4]

Janet Maslin of The New York Times said:

Parador, the Caribbean dictatorship where Paul Mazursky's new film takes place, is definitely a nice place to visit. The carnivals are colorful, the music lively, and the natives are friendly - even the bottom-pinching dictator and the diabolical, scheming chief of police. However, for reasons that are difficult to pinpoint, Parador is not a particularly funny place. Though Mr. Mazursky's new Moon Over Parador has the makings of a clever satire, it never gets beyond the fond, gentle mood of an amusing travelogue.[5]

Awards and nominations

Golden Globe Award

See also


  1. ^ "Moon Over Parador (1988)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. October 11, 1988. Retrieved July 15, 2021.
  2. ^ Wilmington, Michael (September 9, 1988). "Movie Review: The Loony Politics of 'Moon Over Parador'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 15, 2021.
  3. ^ "Moon Over Parador (1988)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 15, 2021.
  4. ^ "Moon Over Parador". Variety. December 31, 1987.
  5. ^ Maslin, Janet (September 9, 1988). "Review/Film; A So-So Actor Gets His Best Role: Impersonating a Dictator". The New York Times. p. 13.