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Citizen Ruth (1996)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  13 December 1996 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 5,578 users   Metascore: 64/100
Reviews: 49 user | 41 critic | 18 from

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.


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3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Diane Siegler
Norm Stoney
Dr. Charlie Rollins
Judge Richter
Nurse Pat
Jessica Weiss
Lance Rome ...
Ricky, Ruth's Lover
Jim Kalal ...
Tony Stoops
Shea Degan ...
Arresting Officer
Vince Morelli ...
Dr. George


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... Written by Gary Dickerson <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Meet Ruth Stoops...One Bad Mother. See more »


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for substance abuse, strong language and a sex scene | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

13 December 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Meet Ruth Stoops  »

Box Office


$3,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$26,709 (USA) (13 December 1996)


$153,155 (USA) (10 January 1997)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This movie marks the reunion of Laura Dern and Burt Reynolds in a theatrical movie. The 1970s Reynolds movie White Lightning (1973) had been Dern's uncredited film debut. Dern was just six years old when she appeared in a brief non-speaking walk on bit part. In White Lightning (1973), Dern played the daughter of her real life mother Diane Ladd who played Maggie. This time around in Citizen Ruth (1996), it is Dern who has the main part with Reynolds playing a supporting role. See more »


On the morning when Ruth is taken to have her abortion, no one notices the blood on the bed or her bloody hand print on the door. See more »


[Ruth is the on phone after seeing a news report about her]
Ruth: You wanna send a message? I ain't no fucking telegram, bitch!
Ruth: Nothing's wrong! I'm fine now. You think I'm a fool. You're the fool, cause guess what? This is a war and Diane's a spy. How bout that?
Ruth: Now you're catching on!
Ruth: Oh yeah! Well you're a cunt!
See more »

Crazy Credits

About halfway through the credits, we hear the beginning of Tape 2, Side 1. See more »


Referenced in Jersey Girl (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

6 July 2006 | by (Kansas) – See all my reviews

There is something about Citizen Ruth that keeps me coming back to it. I must have seen it 30 times and haven't tired of it yet. It is genuine and the people are so amazingly real. It's almost as if some of my neighbours seem just like the characters in the film. That says a lot in my opinion. The Mid-west is a land that holds a special place in the American psyche. I can literally count on my hands the number of films that truly capture its spirit. Citizen Ruth is one of those films. From scenes in the hardware store to large rear wheel drive Fords, everything fits perfectly. This film captures a place called Omaha which for better or worse Hollywood largely ignores. It also treats a controversial topic like abortion in a thoughtful manner. Excellent film. Highly recommended.

10 out of 10 stars.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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