At only 13, Loretta Webb marries Doolittle Lynn and is soon responsible for a large family. She appears destined to a life of homemaking, but Doolittle recognizes his wife’s musical talent, and buys her a guitar as an anniversary present one year. At 18, the busy mother of four children still finds time to write and sing songs at small fairs and local honky-tonks. This gift sets Loretta Lynn on the grueling, tumultuous path to superstardom and country-music greatness.
Honest and Accurate
Coal Miner’s Daughter spans the decades from 1948 Kentucky to the 1970’s, when Loretta Lynn had a nervous breakdown and collapsed on stage. First off, the scenes in rural Kentucky are very familiar to anyone who grew up in the mountains at that time. My own grandmother had seven brothers and sisters, lived in a cabin, and married at age 15. So I’ve heard the stories of her growing up, and it’s VERY close to what is depicted in this film. The Butcher Holler scenes are so realistic, they make you feel like you’re right there. It wasn’t like the Waltons, folks. This shows how it really was back then. I will always love Loretta for her honesty and I’m sure that many women can relate to her wedding night innocence. In fact she didn’t know where the babies were coming from until the first four were born. By that time she was 18 years old. It was only after Loretta’s father died in 1959 that she started singing in honky tonk bars. For anybody who loved the book as much as I did, I wish they would have shown how Loretta’s career affected her children. By the time her twins were born she was on the road so much that she simply didn’t have time to be an attentive mother. Success didn’t bring lasting happiness. Loretta’s busy career caused stress which led to her pill addiction and breakdown. The scenes of Nashville in the 1960’s are very accurate and Loretta’s friendship with Patsy Cline is fun to watch. Patsy was like a big sister and a mother figure to Loretta. She was brilliantly depicted by Beverly D’ Angelo. Sissy Spacek became Loretta Lynn for this film and seeing is believing. She was very convincing as a 13-year-old. What an amazing performance. Tommy Lee Jones redeems the character of Doo for his bad behavior and in the end he is a supportive father and husband. Loretta’s parents are portrayed very accurately by Levon Helm and Phyllis Boyens. I especially liked the mother’s “squaw dance”. Coal Miner’s Daughter is a masterpiece as a song, a book, and especially a movie.