A young woman faces the world equipped only with her wits. No family, no education, no social connections. If she was played by Louise Brooks, she would use her beauty. If she was played by Jane Powell, her pluck. But Ashley Judd, both beautiful and plucky, plays a character whose primary weapon against being ground to a pulp by capitalism is her own cool detachment.
Victor Nunez wrote, directed, produced, shot and edited Ruby In Paradise, which he set in Florida, his home state. Famous for launching Judd’s career, Ruby In Paradise also features an almost-a-leading-man performance by Oregonian Todd Field, who, eight years later, would win two Oscar nominations for In The Bedroom (2001), which he wrote, produced and directed.
Nunez cast Todd Field as the motorcycle riding bookworm who woos Ruby (Ashley Judd) by giving her her first Jane Austen novel, which she reads behind the cash register at work. There are parallels between the plot of that novel, Northanger Abbey, and that of Ruby In Paradise itself – thank you Jim and Ellen for pointing them out!
Important Tip To All Beautiful, Plucky & Self-Possessed Girls Who See This Film: although Ruby in Ruby In Paradise does not choose education as a route to upward mobility, in real life Ashley Judd just graduated from Harvard.
I hereby claim Ruby In Paradise as an Oregon film, based on Todd Field’s contributions as supporting actor and composer.
Note to all readers of Oregon Movies, A to Z: as we move into the 90’s (this blog follows Oregon film history chronologically) I am moving farther and farther from my area of interest. If you love films from the 90’s and would like to write for Oregon Movies, A to Z, please contact me.