Coal Miner's Daughter

1980

Coal Miner's Daughter

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

88%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 17

86%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 36,273
User image

Coal Miner's Daughter Photos

Movie Info

Loretta Lynn was one of the first female superstars in country music and remains a defining presence within the genre; with her strong, clear, hard-country voice and tough, no-nonsense songs about husbands who cheat and wives who weren't about to be pushed around, Lynn introduced a feminist mindset to Nashville years before the phrase "women's liberation" became common currency. Coal Miner's Daughter is a screen adaptation of Lynn's autobiography, starring Sissy Spacek as Loretta Lynn. One of eight children born to Ted Webb (Levon Helm), a coal miner raising a family despite grinding poverty in Butcher's Holler, KY, Loretta married Dolittle "Mooney" Lynn (Tommy Lee Jones) when she was only 13 years old. A mother of four by the time she was 20, Lynn began singing the occasional song at local honky-tonks on weekends, and at 25, she cut (at Mooney's suggestion) a demo tape that earned her a deal with an independent record label. Loretta and Mooney's tireless promotion of the record (including a long road trip through the south in which they stopped at every country radio station they could find) paid off -- Loretta's first single, "Honky Tonk Girl," hit the charts and earned her a spot on the Grand Ole Opry. Stardom called and Loretta never looked back, but success brought with it both joy (a long string of hit records and sold-out concerts and a close friendship with Patsy Cline) and sorrow (a nervous breakdown brought on by overwork and a great deal of stress to a marriage that endured -- but just barely). Sissy Spacek won an Academy award for her vivid, thoroughly natural performance as Loretta (she also did her own singing), and Levon Helm (drummer for the legendary rock group the Band) made an impressive screen debut as her father. Ernest Tubb makes a cameo appearance as himself. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Watch it now

Cast

Sissy Spacek
as Loretta Lynn
Tommy Lee Jones
as Doolittle Lynn
Beverly D'Angelo
as Patsy Cline
Malla McCown
as Webb Child
Pamela McCown
as Webb Child
Bill Anderson Jr.
as Webb Children
Kevin Salvilla
as Webb Child
Foster Dickerson
as Webb Child
William Sanderson
as Lee Dollarhide
Sissy Lucas
as Loretta and Mooney's Child
Pat Patterson
as Loretta and Mooney's Child
Brian Warf
as Loretta and Mooney's Child
Elizabeth Watson
as Loretta and Mooney's Child
Robert Elkins
as Bobby Day
Bob Hannah
as Charlie Dick
Ernest Tubb
as Himself
David Barry Gray
as Doc Turner
Jessica Beasley
as Peggy Lynn
J. Michael Baish
as Storekeeper
Susan Kingsley
as Girl at Fairgrounds
Royce Clark
as Hugh Cherry
Gary Parker
as Radio Station Manager
Billy Strange
as Speedy West
Bruce Newman
as Opry Stage Manager
Grant Turner
as Opry Announcer
Frank Mitchell
as Washington Neighbor
Merle Kilgore
as Cowboy at Tootsie's
Jackie Lynn Wright
as Redhead at Tootsie's
David Thornhill
as The Coal Miner's Band
Billy West
as The Patsy Cline Band
Vernon Oxford
as Preacher
Ron Hensley
as John Penn
Doug Bledsoe
as Cowboy at Grange Hall
Aubrey Wells
as Red Lynn
Russell Varner
as Bidder at Pie Auction
Tommie O'Donnell
as Teacher at Pie Auction
Lou Headley
as Teacher at Pie Auction
Ruby Caudill
as Teacher at Pie Auction
Charles Kahlenberg
as Business Manager
Alice McGeachy
as Woman With Doll
Ken Riley
as Road Manager
Jim Webb
as Bus Driver
View All

News & Interviews for Coal Miner's Daughter

Critic Reviews for Coal Miner's Daughter

All Critics (17) | Top Critics (5)

  • The musical biography by now has a pattern as fixed as a traditional 12-bar blues. It is just that some blues are better than others, and so are some musical biographies. Coal Miner's Daughter... is on of the best of its kinds.

    Jun 28, 2019 | Full Review…
  • Coal Miner's Daughter is most interesting when it's conveying the bleak, dreary Kentucky landscape that formed Lynn's childhood. It's least interesting when it's portraying the agonies of show-business success.

    Apr 27, 2018 | Full Review…
  • A thoughtful, endearing film charting the life of singer Loretta Lynn from the depths of poverty in rural Kentucky to her eventual rise to the title of 'queen of country music'.

    Oct 18, 2008 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • Highly conventional stuff, but lovingly constructed to produce unremarkable but heart-warming entertainment.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • The movie isn't great art, but it has been made with great taste and style; it's more intelligent and observant than movie biographies of singing stars used to be.

    Oct 23, 2004 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Because the film never breaks out of its conventional matrix, it never really becomes interesting. Despite Sissy Spacek's. performance. it is impossible to feel much for her or for her family.

    Mar 27, 2018 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Coal Miner's Daughter

  • Mar 06, 2013
    I thought this was the crazy religious nut's sheltered and dangerously telepathic daughter, but okay, whatever, I guess I'll run with it. Even over thirty years later, much less two years later, people are still having trouble looking as Sissy Spacek and not thinking of "Carrie", but don't get too excited, folks, because there's no part in this film or, for that matter, history in which Loretta Lynn blows up some people with her mind, so don't go thinking that this film is going to be crazy just because it stars Carrie White and Harvey Two-Face. Jokes aside, I can't help but feel as though Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones fit together, not just because they both have offputting facial features, what with Spacek's being generally kind of cute while Jones is off being kind of cute to bulldog owners, but because they're both good ol' Texas folk, no matter how much they try to convince you otherwise. Now, T-Bone Jones is no Austinte, and on top of that, he looks like Dick Nixon, so I don't know how he ended up being a Democrat (Harvard must have gotten to his head), but hey, if I can still like Jones' fellow Meryl Streep romantic-comedy love interest, the hot-headed, spoiled, overtly liberal and exceedingly charming Alec Baldwin, I reckon I'll stick it out with Jones, even if he did steal DiCaprio's Oscar. If this film did nothing else good, it helped Jones break out, though make no mistake, that is not the only thing good about this film. That's right, this film also gave Levon Helm something to do after the tragic breaking up of the band... The Band. ...Oh yeah, and this film has its share of storytelling strengths or whatever, which isn't to say that the final product is, on the whole, as strong as it could have been, hitting its fair share of high notes, though not at the expense of some shortcomings. Storytelling isn't terribly sloppy, but unevenness taints the plenty of aspects of the momentum behind this film to no end, with one of your more notable storytelling areas tainted by inconsistency being pacing, whose layers really aren't too jarring, but not organic enough to fully obscure the blandness within the slow spots, or the severity of the hurried spell. When I heard about this film's subject matter and relatively tight runtime, I feared that things were going to get too slam-banged together, but when it comes down to it, the final product isn't quite as sloppy in its conciseness as I feared, and yet, with that said, at just two hours, this film is too short for its own good, and makes good and sure that you don't forget it by dashing along certain plot points, often just enough to throw you off a bit, and sometimes to a considerable degree. I've seen plenty of more awkwardly tightened up biopics, so don't go in expecting this film to fail in adequately fleshing out its promising subject matter, but do expect plenty of exposition to suffer at the hands of this film's all too often throwing things together, though not quite as much as focal consistency. It's a long while before Loretta Lynn's legendary country music career is even touched upon, and when we finally reach that point, the celebrity story aspect comes in from out of nowhere and throws you way off, though that's not the only time in which focus jars into a new route, because if expository thinness does nothing else in this film, it robs plot layers of smooth bridges, until what you end up with is a film that held the potential of being a very engagingly layered character study, but ultimately comes out as all but all over the place. After a while, the problematic combination of this focus issue and the aforementioned pacing issues drives storytelling into repetition, which eventually slips into aimlessness, from which the final product never seems to recover, meandering along all the way to its very cop-out end. The film sustains your attention with quite a few strengths, but what could have been and perhaps should have been a rewarding biopic finds itself tightened up and thinned out too much as it roams along, never losing so much momentum that it slips out of likability, but slipping up just enough to ultimately fall as rather underwhelming. Nevertheless, the film never gets to be as burnt out as coal gets to be, for although the final product stands to put more meat on its bones and focus in its progression, it keeps you going through all of its meanderings, particularly when the music aspects begin to come into play. Seeing as how the musical aspects behind this Loretta Lynn biopic have been thinned out in their significance to the point of not even being brought into play until well over a quarter into this opus, there's not a whole lot of focused place on this film's soundtrack, but when hints of good old-fashioned country music finally fall upon you, they prove to be worth the wait, as Sissy Spacek does a fine job of bringing many a classic Loretta Lynn diddy to life, complete with all of the kind of charm, spirit and entertainment value that you could only get with classic country. The film's soundtrack isn't all-out outstanding, or even all that heavily focused upon, but it does entertain quite a bit, as well as even provide a few touches of supplementation to substance, because as you watch Lynn slowly, but surely evolve from country lullabies to her family to bonafide mainstream music hits, you absorb more of an understanding of the progress of this character story than the script even provides. Tom Rickman's script is too thin and uneven to do total justice to Lynn's interesting story, which could have boasted organic layers and depth that would have made this success story a thoroughly compelling one, but ultimately go undercut by the unevenness and over-tightness of the final product, though not to the point of fully obscuring the value of this subject matter. Like I said, plenty of promising, or even juicy parts of the story of Loretta and Doolittle Lynn feel under-explored, so it's not like this film ever gets to be something like "Walk the Line", but there is still enough of a hint of potential to spark immediate intrigue, augmented by moments in which the filmmakers do, in fact, deliver, or at least about as much as they can, for although the film is never truly engrossing, there are quite a few strong notes, with a kind of charming humor that consistently livens things up, until Rickman and director Michael Apted find a moment to present very human drama that isn't all that effective, but helps in defining certain parts of this film. At the very least, this film is much too charming to completely lose you, though it's not so watered down that you don't still get some sense of genuineness and dramatic potential within this biopic, which wouldn't be as relatively engaging as it reasonably is without certain onscreen strengths that keep consistent in their delivery. There's not quite enough material behind our leads' performances for me to be totally on board with all the Best Actress aways that this film took home, but make no mistake, our two leads carry the film with both their electric chemistry as tumultuos lovers, and individual performances, with Tommy Lee Jones, well, playing Tommy Lee Jones, but doing so while nailing the fast-talking and slightly unstable, yet ultimately well-intentioned southern attitude that defined Oliver "Doolittle" Lynn, while Sissy Spacek portrays the transformations within country legend Loretta Lynn - from her days as a mere teenaged wife and mother, to her incorporation into mainstream stardom - with enough genuineness for Spacek to bond with her role and compel. I sure do wish that I could say that the film itself is as strong as its leads, who, even then, aren't backed by enough meaty material to enthral, but when it's all said and done, this film is worth checking out, having just enough to it entertain adequately, even though it could have done more. To end this little diddy, pacing unevenness brings both slow spells and hurried spells, the latter of which thins out expository bridges between story layers and leaves focal unevenness to ensue, accompanied by repetition that quickly slips into aimlessness, and brings underwhelmingness to the final product, which still has enough to it to keep you going, boasting the occasional fine soundtrack piece to augment entertainment value, of which there is enough of within the execution of this interesting subject matter that is sometimes delivered on effectively by the filmmakers, and consistently carried by leads Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones, to make "Coal Miner's Daughter" a decent study on the rise of a true country music legend, no matter how flawed it may very much be. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Sep 24, 2012
    Spacek and Jones are fantastic in this biopic.
    Wu C Super Reviewer
  • Mar 25, 2012
    Buoyed by a stellar performance from Sissy Spacek, Coal Miner's Daughter does exactly what it sets out to do: tell the story of country music superstar Loretta Lynn, warts and all. Sure, some aspects were undoubtedly left out for one reason or another, but the film includes just enough of those moments to feel authentic. Neither CMD nor Spacek shy away from the more controversial aspects of the singers life, including her marriage before she was 14 and a somewhat rocky marriage. Yet the film never wallows in the negative; it embraces everything, channeling all of it to form a complete picture of the outspoken singer.
    Jason V Super Reviewer
  • Mar 22, 2010
    This movie was really good! The cast was great, and Spacek did an awesome job in her role. She and Jones worked really well together.
    Erin C Super Reviewer

Coal Miner's Daughter Quotes

News & Features