Citizen Ruth

December 13, 1996 0 By Fans
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Alexander Payne in Citizen RuthStill of Kurtwood Smith and Mary Kay Place in Citizen RuthRachel & RuthDirector and co-writer Alexander PayneDirector & Co-writer Alexander Payne with Laura DernStill of Laura Dern and Mary Kay Place in Citizen Ruth


An irresponsible, drug-addicted, recently impregnated woman finds herself in the middle of an abortion debate when both parties attempt to sway her to their respective sides.

Release Year: 1996

Rating: 6.8/10 (3,703 voted)

Critic's Score: 64/100

Alexander Payne

Stars: Laura Dern, Swoosie Kurtz, Mary Kay Place

Ruth Stoops is a poor indigent drug-user (a huffer – inhaling glue and paint for a high) whose down and out existence is complicated once more by becoming pregnant (she has had and lost four children already). When a judge orders that she gets an abortion or face a felony charge, she is befriended by Gail Stoney, a pro-lifer whose husband is president of the local "Babysavers" group. Suddenly Ruth is thrust into the middle of the pro-choice/pro-life struggle, with each side wanting her to take their side as a "message" to others – and the situation escalates…

Writers: Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor


Laura Dern

Ruth Stoops

Swoosie Kurtz

Diane Siegler

Kurtwood Smith

Norm Stoney

Mary Kay Place

Gail Stoney

Kelly Preston


M.C. Gainey


Kenneth Mars

Dr. Charlie Rollins

David Graf

Judge Richter

Kathleen Noone

Nurse Pat

Tippi Hedren

Jessica Weiss

Burt Reynolds

Blaine Gibbons

Lance Rome

Ricky, Ruth's Lover

Jim Kalal

Tony Stoops

Shea Degan

Arresting Officer

Vince Morelli

Dr. George

Life, liberty, money and the pursuit of happiness. She's gotta have it.


Official Website:
Miramax |

Release Date: 13 December 1996

Filming Locations: 3216 1st Avenue, Council Bluffs, Iowa, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $3,000,000


Opening Weekend: $26,709
(15 December 1996)
(6 Screens)

Gross: $153,155
(12 January 1997)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?


Final theatrical film of Kenneth Mars.


When Norm is lying next to Ruth on her bed, there is a change of camera. He moves his hand to the center of his chest in each camera shot.


[after seeing a movie about abortion]
I slept in a few dumpsters. Maybe I slept on some babies.

User Review


Rating: 9/10

An outstanding work – the consummate Indie.

A great, little satire that manages to make you identify with a
homeless, hopeless druggie.

Laura Dern is perfect as the indigent & insatiable "Ruth". She brings
an engaging hidden-beauty to the part, and with the help of Alexander
Payne's brilliant direction, she nimbly walks the wire between comical
hero and tragic pariah.

This gem clearly demonstrates that, even though the production budget
may be lower than a republican's principles – when great talent and
artistic enthusiasm couple, a work of genius is likely to be born.

Cheers, AB – a staff member of Prospect Point Productions, Inc.