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Citizen Ruth (1996)

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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.

Director:

Alexander Payne
3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Laura Dern ... Ruth Stoops
Swoosie Kurtz ... Diane Siegler
Kurtwood Smith ... Norm Stoney
Mary Kay Place ... Gail Stoney
Kelly Preston ... Rachel
M.C. Gainey ... Harlan
Kenneth Mars ... Dr. Charlie Rollins
David Graf ... Judge Richter
Kathleen Noone ... Nurse Pat
Tippi Hedren ... Jessica Weiss
Burt Reynolds ... Blaine Gibbons
Lance Rome Lance Rome ... Ricky, Ruth's Lover
Jim Kalal Jim Kalal ... Tony Stoops
Shea Degan Shea Degan ... Arresting Officer
Vince Morelli Vince Morelli ... Dr. George
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Storyline

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 <slug@mail.utexas.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A Pro-Laugh comedy. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Miramax | Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

13 December 1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Meet Ruth Stoops See more »

Filming Locations:

Nebraska, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$26,709, 15 December 1996, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$153,155, 12 January 1997
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (FotoKem)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Inspired by the true story of Martina Greywind and follows the details of her story fairly closely. Ms. Greywind was a 28 year-old homeless North Dakota woman addicted to drugs who was unaware she was pregnant, after having had six children taken by the state, until being arrested for publicly inhaling spray-paint fumes (this was changed to patio sealant, a fictional product, for the film) and was charged with endangering her unborn child. She was bailed out by the Lambs of Christ, who offered her $10,000 if she gave birth to the child, even if it were given up for adoption. Ultimately, she had the abortion, with the fee donated by a pro-choice organization and was driven over 100 miles to the nearest clinic. See more »

Goofs

When Ruth is going out to party with her host family's daughter, she takes a hit from a bong, but does so incorrectly, not clearing the smoke from the chamber. See more »

Quotes

[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!
[pause]
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?
[pause]
Ruth: Now you're catching on!
[pause]
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 »

Connections

Referenced in Election: Reese Witherspoon (2017) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Devastatingly, but hilarious view of Choice vs. Life
6 October 2001 | by frabjousSee all my reviews

Laura Dern gives what should have been an oscar-winning performance in this satire of the abortion controversy. However this movie is not for the main stream. She plays a homeless drug user and a user period. Not a nice person. She has four kids in three different places. The first scene depicts her trying to hit up her ex for money displaying only a token concern for her kids. But by the end of the movie you kinda like her (well, almost... you still would never let her come to your house). Anyway when she is picked up for the 16th time that year by the cops for sniffing household stuff (anything she can find: glue, paint, brake fluid...), the authorities find out that she is pregnant. The DA charges her with criminal endangerment of the fetus, but hints that if she has an abortion the charge will go away. While in the city jail she meets up with the Baby Savers and a tug-of-war ensues between them and the Right-To-Choose people. The portrayal of both sides is so devastatingly accurate that I doubt either side would know they're being lampooned. This movie rates with Cold Turkey and Drop Dead Gorgeous for its cynical, but hilarious portrait of American Life.


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