Ruby in Paradise

Ruby in Paradise is a 1993 film written, directed, and edited by Victor Nunez, and starring Ashley Judd, Todd Field, Bentley Mitchum, Allison Dean, and Dorothy Lyman. An homage to Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen,[1] the film is a character study, proceeding at a leisurely pace.

Ruby in Paradise
Theatrical release poster
Directed byVictor Nunez
Produced byKeith Crofford
Sam Gowan (exec. prod.)
Written byVictor Nunez
Music byCharles Engstrom
CinematographyAlex Vlacos
Edited byVictor Nunez
Distributed byOctober Films
Release date
  • January 1993 (1993-01) (Sundance)
  • October 1993 (1993-10) (U.S.)
Running time
115 minutes
Budget$0.8 million (estimated)
Box office$1.0 million


Ruby (Judd) is a young woman in her early 20s and the narrator of the film. She leaves her small town in Tennessee, landing in Panama City, Florida, a summer resort town she visited as a child. Although she arrives there in fall, at the beginning of the off-season, she gets a job at Chambers Beach Emporium, a souvenir store run by Mildred Chambers (Lyman), overcoming the owner's initial rejection of her employment application by telling her "I've done retail before, and I work real cheap."

Over the course of a year she keeps a journal (from which the film's narration is taken) and contemplates her career ups and downs, her love life, her past, and her future. Ruby's introspective narration is interspersed with routine scenes at the souvenir store or conversations with her friend Rochelle (Dean), or the men she dates, Ricky (Mitchum) and Mike (Field).


Production notes

Ruby in Paradise was filmed on location in Panama City, Florida at locations including since murdered Alan "Frog" Johnson's Show N Tail and John Pilcher's White Western Cabin.

Reception and release

The film received positive reception from mainstream critics. After the movie's theatrical run, the film was released on videocassette and laserdisc in 1994 by Republic and that same year in Canada by Cineplex Odeon. In 2008, Alliance Films released the movie on DVD in Canada.


The film won the 1993 Grand Jury Prize for Drama at the Sundance Film Festival (together with Public Access). Roger Ebert picked it as one of his Top Ten Films for the year. Judd's performance earned her the Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead, and Field's performance earned him an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actor nomination. The film was also nominated for the Grand Prix of the Belgian Syndicate of Cinema Critics.


  1. "Northanger Abbey". Jane Austen Society of North America. January 10, 2010.
Preceded by
In the Soup
Sundance Grand Jury Prize: U.S. Dramatic
tied with Public Access
Succeeded by
What Happened Was
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