Coal Miner's Daughter (film)

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Coal Miner's Daughter
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMichael Apted
Screenplay byTom Rickman
Based onCoal Miner's Daughter
by Loretta Lynn & George Vecsey
Produced byBernard Schwartz
StarringSissy Spacek
Tommy Lee Jones
Beverly D'Angelo
Levon Helm
CinematographyRalf D. Bode
Edited byArthur Schmidt
Music byOwen Bradley
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • March 7, 1980 (1980-03-07)
Running time
124 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$15 million
(equivalent to $44.9 million in 2022)[1]
Box office$67.18 million
(equivalent to $201 million in 2022)[1]

Coal Miner's Daughter is a 1980 American biographical musical film directed by Michael Apted from a screenplay written by Tom Rickman. It follows the story of country music singer Loretta Lynn from her early teen years in a poor family and getting married at 15 to her rise as one of the most influential country musicians. Based on Lynn's 1976 biography of the same name by George Vecsey, the film stars Sissy Spacek as Lynn. Tommy Lee Jones, Beverly D'Angelo and Levon Helm are featured in supporting roles. Ernest Tubb, Roy Acuff, and Minnie Pearl make cameo appearances as themselves.

A film on Lynn's life was intended to be made since the release of the biography. Production for the film began in March 1979, and Lynn herself chose Spacek to portray her on screen after seeing a photograph of her, despite being unfamiliar with her films. The film's soundtrack featured all Lynn's hit singles, which were all sung by Spacek, as well as Patsy Cline's "Sweet Dreams" sung by D'Angelo. The soundtrack reached the top 40 on the Billboard 200 chart and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Universal Pictures released Coal Miner's Daughter theatrically on March 7, 1980. The critical consensus on Rotten Tomatoes calls it "a solidly affecting story". The film grossed $67.18 million in North America against a budget of $15 million, becoming the seventh highest-grossing film of 1980. The film received seven nominations at the 53rd Academy Awards, including for Best Picture, with Spacek winning Best Actress. At the 38th Golden Globe Awards, it garnered four nominations and won two; Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and Best Actress (for Spacek).

The film is considered "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and was selected to be preserved in the United States National Film Registry in 2019.[2][3][4]


In 1945, 13-year-old Loretta Webb is one of eight children of Ted Webb, 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, Loretta marries 22-year-old Oliver "Mooney" (aka Doo, short for Doolittle) Lynn, becoming a mother of four by the time she is 19. The family moves to northern Washington State, where Doo works in the forest industry and Loretta sings occasionally at local honky-tonks on weekends. After some time, Loretta makes an occasional appearance on local radio.

By the time Loretta turns 25, Norm Burley, the owner of Zero Records, a small Canadian record label, hears Loretta sing during one of her early 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", is made. After returning home from the sessions, Doo suggests he and Loretta go on a promotional tour to push the record. Doo shoots his own publicity photo for Loretta, 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 Doo 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 couple, 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. In the summer of 1961, after 17 straight weekly performances on the Opry, she is invited to sing at Ernest Tubb Record Shop's Midnite Jamboree after her performance that night. Country superstar Patsy Cline, 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 to Ernest Tubb Record Shop to fetch Loretta so the two can meet. A close friendship with Cline follows, which is abruptly ended by Cline's death in a plane crash on March 5, 1963.

The next few years are a whirlwind. The stress of extensive touring, keeping up her image, overwork, and trying to keep her marriage and family together cause Loretta a nervous breakdown, which she suffers onstage at the beginning of a concert. After a year off at her ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, Loretta goes back on the road, returning to establish herself as the "First Lady of Country Music".

The film closes with Loretta recounting the story of her life through her 1970 hit song "Coal Miner's Daughter" to a sold-out audience.



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 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 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" came from the radio.[5]

In her 2012 memoir My Extraordinary Ordinary Life, Sissy Spacek states that she became fast friends with Loretta Lynn and worked to emulate her unique accent and speech patterns by spending an afternoon tape-recording the singer while she told stories of her life, some of which made it into the script. She then listened to the tapes and repeated the lines until she captured her own version of Lynn. Though Spacek had started out as a singer, the producers considered dubbing Loretta's vocals over her performance. Lynn encouraged them to allow Spacek to do all of her own singing in the film and helped the actress learn to sing and play guitar in her style. The film's soundtrack featured Spacek's singing all of Lynn's hits sung in the movie, including "Coal Miner's Daughter".[6]

The locations included Blackey, Eolia, Flatgap, Bottom Fork, Redfox in Knott and Letcher Counties in Kentucky; and Pardee, a former coal camp on the Virginia side of Black Mountain. Interiors of Lynn's childhood home were shot in a warehouse in Norton, Virginia. Scenes were also shot in Loretta Lynn's Madison, Tennessee, home on Barbara Drive.[7]

The replica of Lynn's home in Butcher Hollow, built at Bottom Fork, Letcher County, Kentucky, was burned by arsonists. It was on the front porch of that house that Levon Helm, drummer and singer of the rock group The Band, made his acting debut as Lynn's father.[7]

In an interview with Merv Griffin broadcast on November 7, 1978, Loretta Lynn said that Harrison Ford had been originally cast.

Historical inaccuracies[edit]

There are some events depicted in the film that are contrary to actual facts:

Patsy Cline never owned a tour bus, although she had thought about purchasing one shortly before her death.

Cline's plane crash did not occur early in the morning as the DJ on the radio in Lynn's bedroom stated; it happened shortly after 6:00 in the evening.

"You Ain't Woman Enough (To Take My Man)" was not inspired by one of Mooney's cheating episodes, which was caught by Lynn while touring with Cline, as the film suggests. The inspiration came from a fan of Lynn, whom she met backstage. The fan told Lynn how another woman had been trying to steal her husband from her, to which Lynn replied, "Why she ain't woman enough to take your man," instantly giving Lynn an idea for a song title. Also, the film portrayed Lynn singing the song to Cline while writing it; the song was not recorded until late 1965, nearly three years after Cline's death; so it was likely that Lynn didn't write the song (and met the fan who inspired it) until after Cline's death as well.


Coal Miner's Daughter: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
various artists
ReleasedMarch 7, 1980
Bradley's Barn
(Mt. Juliet, Tennessee)[8]
LabelMCA Nashville
ProducerOwen Bradley
Professional ratings
Review scores

Coal Miner's Daughter: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was released on March 7, 1980, under the MCA Nashville label.[10] It included music by Beverly D'Angelo, Levon Helm, and Sissy Spacek except for the "End Credits Medley" and material by other artists that were not under contract to MCA. The album was certified Gold by the RIAA on January 11, 1982[11] and has been released on vinyl,[12] cassette tape,[13] and CD.[10] Levon Helm's "Blue Moon of Kentucky" was released as a single on 7-inch vinyl, both as a double-A-side and also with Allen Toussaint's "Working in the Coal Mine", a non-album track also sung by Helm, on the B-side.[14] The soundtrack would win Country Music Association Award for Album of the Year in 1980, the first of only two soundtracks to do so. (O Brother, Where Art Thou? would be the other in 2001.)

1."The Titanic"A.P. Carter, Sara Carter, Maybelle CarterSissy Spacek2:29
2."Blue Moon of Kentucky"Bill MonroeLevon Helm2:51
3."There He Goes"Eddie Miller, Durwood Haddock, W.S. StevensonSissy Spacek2:11
4."I'm a Honky Tonk Girl"Loretta LynnSissy Spacek2:22
5."Amazing Grace"John NewtonFuneral Guests2:08
6."Walkin' After Midnight"Donn Hecht, Alan BlockBeverly D'Angelo2:21
7."Crazy"H.W. NelsonBeverly D'Angelo2:45
8."I Fall to Pieces"Hank Cochran, Harlan HowardSissy Spacek2:48
9."Sweet Dreams"Don GibsonBeverly D'Angelo2:37
10."Back in Baby's Arms"Bob MontgomerySissy Spacek, Beverly D'Angelo2:10
11."One's on the Way"Shel SilversteinSissy Spacek2:42
12."You Ain't Woman Enough To Take My Man"LynnSissy Spacek2:18
13."You're Lookin' at Country"LynnSissy Spacek2:26
14."Coal Miner's Daughter"LynnSissy Spacek3:04

Charts and certifications[edit]

Weekly charts

Chart (1980) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[15] 98
Canada Country Albums (RPM)[16] 1
Canada Top Albums (RPM) 23
US Top Country Albums (Billboard) 2
US Billboard 200 40

Year-end Charts

Chart (1980) Position
Canada Top Albums (RPM)[17] 97


Country Certification
United States Gold[11]
Preceded by RPM Country Albums number-one album
May 10–31, 1980
Succeeded by
Together by The Oak Ridge Boys


Box office[edit]

In its opening weekend in the United States and Canada, Coal Miner's Daughter was number 1 at the box office, grossing $3.6 million in 796 theaters. The film grossed a total of $67.1 million in the United States and Canada, becoming the seventh highest-grossing film of 1980 in North America.[18]

Critical response[edit]

Sissy Spacek's portrayal of Loretta Lynn garnered widespread critical acclaim winning her the Academy Award for Best Actress.

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, Coal Miner's Daughter holds an approval rating of 86% based on 63 reviews, with an average rating of 8.1/10. The website's critical consensus reads: "Like a classic traditional country song, Coal Miner's Daughter draws on time-tested formula -- and undeniable talent -- to tell a solidly affecting story."[19] On Metacritic, which assigns a rating to reviews, the film has a weighted average score of 87 out of 100, based on 47 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[20]

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.'"[21] Roger Ebert from The Chicago Times 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."[22]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Award Category Nominee(s) Result
Academy Awards[23][24] Best Picture Bernard Schwartz Nominated
Best Actress Sissy Spacek Won
Best Screenplay – Based on Material from Another Medium Thomas Rickman Nominated
Best Art Direction John W. Corso and John M. Dwyer Nominated
Best Cinematography Ralf D. Bode Nominated
Best Film Editing Arthur Schmidt Nominated
Best Sound Richard Portman, Roger Heman and James R. Alexander Nominated
American Cinema Editors Awards Best Edited Feature Film Arthur Schmidt Nominated
British Academy Film Awards Best Actress in a Leading Role Sissy Spacek Nominated
Best Sound Gordon Ecker, James R. Alexander, Richard Portman and Roger Heman Jr. Nominated
Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures Michael Apted Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Won
Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Sissy Spacek Won
Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Tommy Lee Jones Nominated
Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Beverly D'Angelo Nominated
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards Best Actress Sissy Spacek Won
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards Best Actress Won
National Board of Review Awards Top Ten Films 3rd Place
Best Actress Sissy Spacek Won
National Film Preservation Board National Film Registry Inducted
National Society of Film Critics Awards Best Actress Sissy Spacek Won
New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best Actress Won
Writers Guild of America Awards Best Drama Adapted from Another Medium Thomas Rickman Nominated

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

Home media[edit]

  • This film 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 film was released in the VHS format in the 1980s by MCA Home Video and on March 1, 1992, by MCA/Universal Home Video.
  • On September 13, 2005, Universal released a 25th Anniversary Edition on DVD in widescreen (1.85:1) format and featuring the music tracks remixed to 5.1 Dolby Digital stereo, leaving the dialogue and effects tracks as they were on the original mono soundtrack from 1980.
  • That same DVD was included in a four-pack DVD set that also included Smokey and the Bandit, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and Fried Green Tomatoes.
  • On January 7, 2014, Universal Pictures released the film on Blu-ray.

Broadway adaptation[edit]

On May 10, 2012, at the Grand Ole Opry, Lynn announced that Zooey Deschanel was to portray her in a Broadway musical adaptation.[27]

One episode of The Simpsons, titled "Colonel Homer", is based partly on this film. The episode also stars Beverly D'Angelo as cocktail waitress Lurleen Lumpkin.


  1. ^ a b Box Office Information for Coal Miner's Daughter. Archived 2017-01-16 at the Wayback Machine The Wrap. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
  2. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (December 11, 2019). "National Film Registry Adds 'Purple Rain', 'Clerks', 'Gaslight' & More; 'Boys Don't Cry' One Of Record 7 Pics From Female Helmers". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 11, 2019.
  3. ^ "Women Rule 2019 National Film Registry". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2020-09-18.
  4. ^ "Complete National Film Registry Listing". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2020-09-18.
  5. ^ Sissy Spacek and Michael Apted. Feature commentary track, Coal Miner's Daughter 25th Anniversary/Collector's Edition, 2005.
  6. ^ Spacek, Sissy (2012). My Extraordinary Ordinary Life. New York: Hyperion. pp. 185–187. ISBN 9781401304270.
  7. ^ a b Adams, Sam (April 5, 2017). "Good memories still linger for 'Coal Miner's Daughter'". The Mountain Eagle. Whitesburg, Kentucky. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  8. ^ Coal Miner's Daughter: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (CD). Various Artists. MCA Nashville. 1980. 088 170 122-2.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  9. ^ "allmusic (((Coal Miner's Daughter - Various Artist > Review)))". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved July 17, 2011.
  10. ^ a b Lynn, Loretta. "Coal Miner's Daughter: Various Artists: Music". Amazon. Retrieved 2012-04-06.
  11. ^ a b "RIAA - Recording Industry Association of America". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2012-04-20.
  12. ^ "Coal Miner's Daughter / Loretta Lynn / LP Soundtrack: Sissy Spacek, Beverly D"Angelo: Music". Amazon. Retrieved 2012-04-06.
  13. ^ "Coal Miner's Daughter: Various Artists: Music". Amazon. Retrieved 2012-04-06.
  14. ^ "Soundtrack Album: Coal Miner's Daughter".
  15. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 283. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  16. ^ "RPM Country 25 Albums" (PDF). RPM. Vol. 33, no. 7. May 10, 1980. Retrieved 19 April 2020.
  17. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1980 - December 20, 1980" (PDF).
  18. ^ "Coal Miner's Daughter". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  19. ^ Coal Miner's Daughter at Rotten Tomatoes
  20. ^ "Coal Miner's Daughter". Metacritic. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  21. ^ "Coal Miner's Daughter". Variety. 31 December 1979. Retrieved 19 April 2020.
  22. ^ "Coal Miner's Daughter". 1 January 1980. Retrieved 19 April 2020.
  23. ^ "The 53rd Academy Awards (1981) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-10-07.
  24. ^ "1980 Academy Awards". 2007. Retrieved May 9, 2007.
  25. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-14.
  26. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-08-14.
  27. ^ Gans, Andrew (May 11, 2012). "Zooey Deschanel Will Star in Broadway Stage Adaptation of "Coal Miner's Daughter"". Playbill, Inc. Archived from the original on March 31, 2014. Retrieved May 12, 2012.

External links[edit]