The Good

The Bad

Sissy Spacek plays Loretta Lynn in this famous retelling of her life, Coal Miner’s Daughter. Tommy Lee Jones plays Lynn’s Husband, Doolittle Mooney. The central story is that of Lynn marrying Mooney when she was a very young girl. They have a boatload of kids and isn’t until her husband pushes her that she pursues singing. Acting as her manager they go on the road together all but forcing radio stations to play Lynn’s homemade record. From there, she starts playing on the Grand Ole Opry and eventually befriends Patsy Cline. After Cline’s tragic death, Lynn becomes very famous yet this fame has a price as it takes her away from “Doo” (her nickname for her husband) and their children. This film is an uplifting tale of taking charge of your life and creating your own success.

Spacek shows why she received her best actress Oscar and Tommy Lee Jones shows, even at this young age, why he is one of America’s most solid actors. They are both so perfect in their roles, creating a real feeling of being in love while having to work out their own issues together. Everything about this movie feels right on, and when you see the real Loretta Lynn in the supplemental features you can’t help but see where this person came from. I knew nothing about this movie, I would venture to say that I am not even a country music fan, yet I really got a lot out of this film and I look forward to picking up some of Loretta Lynn’s music.

Features

Commentary with Sissy Spacek and Michael Apted; Tommy Lee Jones remembers Coal Miner’s Daughter

This “Commentary Track” is filled with tidbits about Sissy’s performance, how close she and Loretta Lynn became and basic production facts. While I think if I was more into country music I would have gotten more out of this, it is still something that gives a wealth of information about what happened behind the scenes of this movie. “Tommy Lee Jones remembers Coal Miner’s Daughter,” is pretty much the same thing, yet these anecdotes come from his own recollections as he and Michael Apted discuss the film. Honestly, I think they could have combined Lee’s answers to the commentary track, and thus had both Spacek and Jones on the same feature.

Interview with Loretta Lynn and Michael Apted; President George Bush, Sr. salutes AFI and Coal Miner’s Daughter

The “Interview with Loretta Lynn and Michael Apted” keeps itself within the tradition of the Tommy Lee Jones interview. Watching Lynn, you get the impression that Spacek wasn’t copying her, so much as, for that period of time, she actually became that person. Lynn talks a lot about her career, working with Spacek and the movie in general. One gets the sense that regardless of where she ended up, Loretta Lynn would always be herself. The first thing that struck me about the “President Bush salutes AFI and Coal Miner’s Daughter” piece was how he isn’t that well spoken, yet nobody seems to pick on him like they pick on his son. This extra feature is basically just on here it seems to show someone like Bush giving this film high praise. What is interesting to me is that Hollywood is supposedly so left in it’s politics, why would the creators of this DVD give Bush, Sr. a forum to speak? Could it possibly be a boon to DVD sales?

Video

Anamorphic Widescreen - 1.85:1. This movie works because of how it looks. I’m not saying that Jones’ and Spacek’s performances are not enough to sustain this movie, but I think that their acting is bolstered by their surroundings. This movie had the feel of the area it was taking place in. It just oozed off the screen. There were no moments where people were making fun of the south, or winking at the cameras in acknowledgment that this was a performance. Everything about this movie felt as if the people creating it were living these events. There is a long setup to Loretta Lynn’s eventual success. It isn’t because she was hit with failure early on, this movie just moved at a deliberate enough pace so we would appreciate and understand the characters.

Audio

Dolby Digital 5.1. English, Spanish and French Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono. Subtitled in Spanish and French. Captioned in English. This disk has restored audio and the 5.1 track is enhanced. Okay, I have a one speaker, 13” TV so I doubt that I am getting the full effect of all these bells and whistles, but this movie made me want to learn a little more about country music. I don’t mean to be a purist, but I mean REAL country music and not some guys in LA doing weak, acoustic guitar by themselves and THINKING they are country. The audio on this disc was fine, I didn’t notice any drop outs or problems where things would get distorted. I think it’s really interesting that so much of this movie isn’t even about the music, but the people that create and inspire it. Getting to witness the process of it’s creation was quite illuminating.

Package

Sissy Spacek stands on the front cover singing her heart out. When I saw how she looks in the beginning of the movie, I found myself not believing that she would eventually morph into the person on this cover. That back features 4 small shots from the movie, a tiny description of what it’s about, a Special Features listing, a cast list and some technical specs. Inside, is a photo journal that gives a pictorial history of this film. There are quotes from the actors, director and lines from the characters laid out throughout this. This layout looks really good, and I liked the photo journal because I read through it before screening the film. This helped give me an overall sense of the movie before I watched it. I don’t need that all the time, but in this case it was nice.

Final Word

It is amazing watching Tommy Lee Jones in the role of Doolittle Mooney. I know that Sissy Spacek is the star of this piece, but I really feel that without Mooney being as prominent as he is, Spacek’s role would not resonate as it does. This isn’t some “Ike and Tina” kind of relationship. It’s a tale of man showing a woman how truly special she can be. Sure they fight, but they also laugh and at the end of the day it is readily apparent that they need each other.

Coal Miner’s Daughter is the kind of movie I grew up hearing about it. I think if I try really hard, I can remember when this movie was released!! Yet, I had never screened it until MovieWeb asked me to do this review. From the opening frame, I knew that it was going to be a very rich and strong experience. And it was. Through all the ups and downs, the good and the bad, the highs and the lows... like life, it just kept on going.

Coal Miner's Daughter was released March 7, 1980.