Biography of Loretta Lynn, a country and western singer that came from poverty to fame.
Release Year: 1980
Rating: 7.4/10 (7,220 voted)
Stars: Sissy Spacek, Tommy Lee Jones, Levon Helm
At only thirteen years of age, Loretta Webb marries Doolittle Lynn and is soon responsible for a sizeable family. Loretta appears destined to a life of homemaking, but Doolittle recognises his wife's musical talent, and buys her a guitar as an anniversary present one year. This gift sets Loretta Lynn on the gruelling, tumultuous path to country music greatness.
Writers: Loretta Lynn, Thomas Rickman
Tommy Lee Jones
Bill Anderson Jr.
Betty Sue Lynn
Jack Benny Lynn
Ernest Ray Lynn
She was married at 13. She had four kids by the time she was 20. She's been hungry and poor. She's been loved and cheated on. She became a singer because it was the only thing she could do. She became a star because it was the only way she could do it.
Release Date: 7 March 1980
Filming Locations: Bee, Virginia, USA
Opening Weekend: $3,366,443
(9 March 1980)
Did You Know?
According to Loretta Lynn, her husband Doolittle wanted nothing to do with Tommy Lee Jones, who was playing him, until shortly before shooting began in Butcher Holler. Jones rented a Jeep, got drunk on moonshine and went tearing through the town in the vehicle, only to get arrested for drunk driving, beat up for resisting arrest and jailed. Doolittle liked him immediately after that.
When Patsy brings out a box of her old maternity clothes to share with Loretta, a tag can be seen on the sleeve of a blouse. (Most likely the garment was purchased at a thrift store and the tag hadn't been removed for the film shoot.)
[after her father weighs her]
A-hundred-n-seventeen? This baby's gonna be a big 'un daddy.
From 13 year old bride, to becoming a Country Music Legend. A perfect biographical film.
Biographical films that are done right can be a thing of beauty. They can
enlighten us by giving us perspective and insight into people that we may
recognize by name but yet know little of the circumstances that have made
the fabric of their lives. And if the life they led is as fascinating as
that of Loretta Lynn, they can also entertain us in the
Based on Lynn's autobiographical novel of the same name, Coal Miner's
Daughter is easily one of the best films of this genre. It is the story
how Loretta Lynn became one of the most successful Country & Western
vocalists in recording history despite having been raised in the poverty
stricken hills of Butcher Holler, Kentucky, marrying at the age of 13, and
having several children to boot.
The first half of Coal Miner's Daughter is a fascinating look at a life
foreign to most of us. As the daughter of Ted Webb (Levon Helm) and Clara
Webb (Phyllis Boyens), Loretta (Sissy Spacek)seems destined to live her
just as all who those who live in Butcher Holler eke out an existence. It
seems predetermined that she will probably marry one day, that her husband
will be a coal miner just as her own father is, and she will have a
of young 'uns running around the hills barefoot. One day, on a trip into
town with her father, Loretta meets the irrepressible Mooney Lynn (Tommy
Jones) who has just come home form the service. It isn't long before
convinces the 13 year. old Loretta that they are in love and need to be
married. After convincing Ted and Clara to give their blessing, the
takes place, and although it isn't apparent for many years, it's a
that will forever alter the course of her existence.
One of the reasons this film succeeds on the level that it does, is
Director Michael Apted never falls into the trap of making the film
judgmental about many of the events that occur in Loretta's life. He
the events of the film unfold naturally, and we either accept them for
they are or we don't. For instance, many Directors would have felt the
to implant some nefarious motive behind Mooney's relationship with
The events that happen in Loretta's childhood were what they were, and
though letting a child of thirteen marry may be foreign to us, it was
obviously something that may not have been extraordinary unusual back in
There is another reason why Coal Miner's Daughter succeeds on all levels.
Sissy Spacek plays Loretta Lynn as if she were cloned from her. Not only
their resemblance strikingly uncanny, her speaking voice, her singing
her mannerisms will have you believing that it is Loretta herself starring
in this film. As if this isn't enough, Spacek was required to play a
character that starts out as a naive thirteen year old girl, and ends as
adult woman who suffers through many painful and tumultuous events in her
life. Not an easy task at all, but it is the stuff for which actresses
Academy Awards, and Spacek certainly earned hers.
If Spacek's performance was exceptional, the rest of the cast would merely
need to be adequate to make the film succeed, but they are every bit as
impressive. Given the difficult role of playing Mooney, Tommy Lee Jones
brings the character to life. While never making Mooney appear
he does show us that Mooney is after all a human being, subject to the
foibles and temptations as the rest of us. Most of all, despite his
failings, Jones lets us know that Mooney did indeed care a great deal for
Loretta, even if such outward expressions of love were foreign to
There's more. Levon Helm as Ted Webb gives one of the best supporting
performance ever in a film. As Ted, he gives us a father who cares deeply
about his family, doing for them what he can with what little money he can
scrape by on from his earning. He is a man who has obviously been beaten
down by the drudgery and day to day existence of spending most of his life
with a pick and a shovel mining coal. It is this existence that
forces Mooney into his decision to not become a victim of the coal
Last but certainly not least, is Beverly D'Angelo as Patsy Cline, who not
only befriends Loretta, but helps to teach her the ways of the world. Her
performance is so good in fact, that although her scenes aren't many,
D'Angelo leaves an indelible mark that made it difficult to accept Jessica
Lange in the same role. I do not know why Jones, Helm, and D'Angelo were
not recognized when Awards time rolled around as they were all at least
deserving of a nomination if not a win. Perhaps Spacek's performance was
powerful that it overshadowed the fine work done by the rest of the cast.
Then again, I quit trying to figure the reasoning behind awards a long
There is no doubt however, that Coal Miner's Daughter is one of the best
biographical films ever. It is one of those rare times when cast,
writer, all came together to make a very special film. And when they all
that I have no choice but to give them my grade which for Coal Miner's
Daughter is an A+.