Coal Miner's Daughter (film)

This article is about the film. For other uses, see Coal Miner's Daughter (disambiguation).
Coal Miner's Daughter

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Michael Apted
Produced by Bernard Schwartz
Screenplay by Tom Rickman
Based on Autobiography
by Loretta Lynn
George Vecsey
Starring Sissy Spacek
Tommy Lee Jones
Beverly D'Angelo
Levon Helm
Music by Owen Bradley
Cinematography Ralf D. Bode
Edited by Arthur Schmidt
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • March 7, 1980 (1980-03-07)
Running time
125 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $15 million[1]
Box office $67,182,787

Coal Miner's Daughter is a 1980 American biographical film which tells the story of country music singer Loretta Lynn. It stars Sissy Spacek as Loretta, a role that earned her the Academy Award for Best Actress. Tommy Lee Jones as Loretta's husband Mooney Lynn, Beverly D'Angelo and Levon Helm also star. The film was directed by Michael Apted.[2]

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.[3]

The film was adapted from Loretta Lynn's 1976 autobiography written with George Vecsey. At the time of the film's release, Loretta was 48 years old.


In 1945, 13-year-old Loretta Webb is one of eight children of Ted Webb (Levon Helm), a Van Lear coal miner raising a family with his wife in the midst of grinding poverty in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky (pronounced by locals as "Butcher Holler").

In 1948, at the age of 15, she marries 22-year-old Oliver Vanetta Lynn, Jr. (aka "Doolittle", "Doo" or Mooney") (Tommy Lee Jones), becoming a mother of four by the time she is 19 (and a grandmother by age 29). Now known as Loretta Lynn, she begins singing the occasional songs at local honky-tonks on weekends as well as making the occasional radio appearance.

When she is 25, Norm Burley—the owner of Zero Records, a small Canadian record label—hears her sing during one of her early Northern Washington radio appearances. Burley gives the couple the money needed to travel to Los Angeles to cut a demo tape from which her first single, "I'm a Honky Tonk Girl," would be made. After returning home from the sessions, Mooney suggests that they go on a promotional tour to push the record. He shoots his own publicity photo for her, and spends many late nights writing letters to show promoters and to radio disc jockeys all over the South. After Loretta receives an emergency phone call from her mother telling her that her father had died, she and Mooney hit the road with records, photos, and their children. The two embark on an extensive promotional tour of radio stations across the South.

En route, and unbeknownst to the pair, Loretta's first single, "I'm a Honky Tonk Girl," hits the charts based on radio and jukebox plays, and earns her a spot on the Grand Ole Opry. After seventeen straight weekly performances on the Opry, she is invited to sing at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop Midnite Jamboree after her performance that night. Country superstar Patsy Cline (Beverly D'Angelo), one of Loretta's idols, who had recently been hospitalized from a near-fatal car wreck, inspires Loretta to dedicate Patsy's newest hit "I Fall to Pieces" to the singer herself as a musical get-well card. Cline listens to the broadcast that night from her hospital room and sends her husband Charlie Dick down to Tubbs' record shop to fetch Loretta so the two can meet. A long and close friendship with Patsy Cline follows, and ends only by the tragic death of her idol in a plane crash on March 5, 1963.

Extensive touring, keeping up her image, overwork, and a great deal of stress (from trying to keep her marriage and family together) cause her a nervous breakdown. However, after a year off at her ranch, in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, Loretta goes back on the road in fine form and becomes the First Lady of Country Music.

Some months later Mooney drives Loretta at breakneck speed to a site for a proposed new house. They argue about where to put the bedrooms, and finally Mooney jokingly says that, if they can't settle the question about where to put the bedrooms, then he'll live in a treehouse at the top of a hill.

Finally, in 1969, Loretta performs her hit, "Coal Miner's Daughter", to a sold-out audience, with the tune becoming her signature song.



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 an DVD audio 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 Nicolas Roeg 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" sallied forth from the radio.[4]


Critical reception

It has a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 14 reviews; the average rating is 8.3/10.[5] Variety called it "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'."[6] Roger Ebert stated that the film "has been made with great taste and style; it's more intelligent and observant than movie biographies of singing stars used to be."[7]

Awards and honors

The film won the Academy Award for Best Actress (Sissy Spacek), and was nominated for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (John W. Corso, John M. Dwyer), Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Picture, Best Sound (Richard Portman, Roger Heman and James R. Alexander) and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium.[8][9]

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-synching; she was nominated for a Golden Globe, as was Tommy Lee Jones.

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

Home media


Coal Miner's Daughter: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Various Artists
Released March 7, 1980
Recorded 1980
Bradley's Barn
(Mt. Juliet, Tennessee)[12]
Genre Country
Label MCA Nashville
Producer Owen Bradley
Professional ratings
Review scores

Coal Miner's Daughter: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was released on March 7, 1980, under the MCA Nashville label.[14] It included music by Beverly D'Angelo, Levon Helm, and Sissy Spacek except for the "End Credits Medley" and material by other artists which were not under contract to MCA. The album was certified Gold by the RIAA on January 11, 1982[15] and has been released on vinyl,[16] cassette tape,[17] and CD.[14] Levon Helm's Blue Moon of Kentucky was released as a single on 7" vinyl, both as a double-A-side and also with a non-album track also sung by Helm, Allen Toussaint's Working in the Coal Mine, on the B-side.[18]

No. TitleWriter(s)Performer Length
1. "The Titanic"  A.P. Carter, Sara Carter, Maybelle CarterSissy Spacek 2:29
2. "Blue Moon of Kentucky"  Bill MonroeLevon Helm 2:51
3. "There He Goes"  Eddie Miller, Durwood Haddock, W.S. StevensonSissy Spacek 2:11
4. "I'm a Honky Tonk Girl"  Loretta LynnSissy Spacek 2:22
5. "Amazing Grace"  John NewtonFuneral Guests 2:08
6. "Walkin' After Midnight"  Donn Hecht, Alan BlockBeverly D'Angelo 2:21
7. "Crazy"  H.W. NelsonBeverly D'Angelo 2:45
8. "I Fall to Pieces"  Hank Cochran, Harlan HowardSissy Spacek 2:48
9. "Sweet Dreams"  Don GibsonBeverly D'Angelo 2:37
10. "Back in Baby's Arms"  Bob MontgomerySissy Spacek, Beverly D'Angelo 2:10
11. "One's on the Way"  Shel SilversteinSissy Spacek 2:42
12. "You Ain't Woman Enough To Take My Man"  LynnSissy Spacek 2:18
13. "You're Lookin' at Country"  LynnSissy Spacek 2:26
14. "Coal Miner's Daughter"  LynnSissy Spacek 3:04

Charts and certifications

Weekly charts

Chart (1980) Peak
Canada Country Albums (RPM)[19] 1
Canada Top Albums (RPM) 23
US Top Country Albums (Billboard) 2
US Billboard 200 40


Country Certification
United States Gold[15]

Preceded by
Together by The Oak Ridge Boys
RPM Country Albums number-one album
May 10–31, 1980
Succeeded by
Together by The Oak Ridge Boys


On May 10, 2012, at the Grand Ole Opry, Lynn announced that Zooey Deschanel will play her in a Broadway musical adaptation.[20]

One episode of The Simpsons, entitled "Colonel Homer", is partly based on this film. The episode also stars Beverly D'Angelo as cocktail waitress Lurleen Lumpkin, who happens to have a beautiful country singing voice.


  1. Box Office Information for Coal Miner's Daughter. The Wrap. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
  2. "IMDB: Coal Miner's Daughter (1980)". Retrieved May 9, 2007.
  3. Coal Miner's Daughter (Motion Picture). MCA Universal. 1980.
  4. Sissy Spacek and Michael Apted. Feature commentary track, Coal Miner's Daughter 25th Anniversary/Collector's Edition, 2005.
  5. Coal Miner's Daughter at Rotten Tomatoes
  6. "Coal Miner's Daughter". Variety. 1980. Retrieved 2010-09-02.
  7. "COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER". Chicago Sun Times. Approx. March 1980. Retrieved 2013-09-14. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  8. "The 53rd Academy Awards (1981) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-10-07.
  9. "1980 Academy Awards". 2007. Retrieved May 9, 2007.
  10. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-14.
  11. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-08-14.
  12. Coal Miner's Daughter: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (CD). Various Artists. MCA Nashville. 1980. 088 170 122-2.
  13. "allmusic ((( Coal Miner's Daughter - Various Artist > Review )))". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved July 17, 2011.
  14. 1 2 Lynn, Loretta. "Coal Miner's Daughter: Various Artists: Music". Retrieved 2012-04-06.
  15. 1 2 "RIAA - Recording Industry Association of America". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2012-04-20.
  16. "Coal Miner's Daughter / Loretta Lynn / LP Soundtrack: Sissy Spacek, Beverly D"Angelo: Music". Retrieved 2012-04-06.
  17. "Coal Miner's Daughter: Various Artists: Music". Retrieved 2012-04-06.
  19. "RPM Country 25 Albums" (PDF). RPM. 33 (7). May 10, 1980. Retrieved July 17, 2011.
  20. Gans, Andrew (May 11, 2012). "Zooey Deschanel Will Star in Broadway Stage Adaptation of "Coal Miner's Daughter"". Playbill, Inc. Retrieved May 12, 2012.

External links

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