- For the 1969 country music song see Coal Miner's Daughter (song)
Coal Miner's Daughter is a 1980 American biographical film which tells the story of country music performer Loretta Lynn. It stars Sissy Spacek in her Academy Award for Best Actress winning role, Tommy Lee Jones, Beverly D'Angelo and Levon Helm, and was directed by Michael Apted.
The movie was adapted from Lynn's biography written with George Vecsey
. 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 abuse, and about 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. One of eight children born to Ted Webb (Levon Helm
), a coal miner raising a family despite grinding poverty in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky
, Loretta married Doolittle "Mooney" Lynn (Tommy Lee Jones
) when she was only 13 years old.
A mother of four by the time she was 17, 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 Lynn 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).
Lynn personally chose Spacek to portray her, making the decision based on a photograph of the actress despite being unfamiliar with her films, a story Spacek recounts in a DVD commentary
for the Collector's Edition of the film. Initially, Spacek was reluctant to participate, and asked to do her own singing in the film in hopes of scaring off the studio from pursuing her for the role. At the time that Lynn prematurely announced on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
that "Sissy Spacek is going to play me," the actress was torn between friends who advised her to do Lynn's film and those who advised her to choose instead a Nick Rhodes
project due to start filming at the same time. Talking it over with her mother-in-law that evening, Spacek was advised to pray for a sign, which she did. She and her husband subsequently went for a drive in his mother's car, where the radio was tuned to a classical music
station that changed formats at sunset every evening. As the couple pulled out of the parking garage, the title line of the song "Coal Miner's Daughter" issued from the radio.
For her performance, Spacek won an Academy Award, as well as "Best Actress" awards from the Golden Globes, the National Board of Review, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the New York Film Critics Circle, and the Kansas City Film Critics Circle. Her co-star Beverly D'Angelo, who played Loretta's mentor, Patsy Cline, also chose to do her own singing rather than lip-syncing; she was nominated for a Golden Globe, as was Tommy Lee Jones. Levon Helm (drummer for the rock group The Band) made his screen debut as Loretta's father, Ted Webb. Ernest Tubb, Roy Acuff, and Minnie Pearl all make cameo appearances as themselves.
This film won the Academy Award for Best Actress
(Sissy Spacek), and was nominated for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration
, Best Cinematography
, Best Film Editing
, Best Picture
, Best Sound
and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium
Home video releases
- This movie was released on LaserDisc on two separate releases. The first release was in May 1980, and the extended play version was released in July 1981. These releases were both made by MCA DiscoVision.
- The movie was released in the VHS format on March 1, 1992 by MCA Universal.
- On September 13, 2005, Universal Pictures released a 25th Anniversary Edition of this film on DVD, in widescreen (1.85:1) format.
The original motion picture soundtrack for Coal Miner's Daughter was released in 1980, under the MCA
label. It included music by Beverly D'Angelo
, Levon Helm
, and Sissy Spacek