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Sissy as Loretta, out front .. . Universal City Studios 18 MARCH 28, 1980 Film / Laura Richardson Coal Miner’s Daughter is a good movie. Not, mind you, a great movie it isn’t pretentious enough -but very good. An understated little character study with. delightful performances and charm. It invites comparison with Nashville, I suppose, since Altman’s 1975 kaleidoscope of C&W sleaze is the only other film about the Nashville sound that takes the music some sort of seriously, but beyond that any similarity can be laid at a hairdresser’s .door: both Ronee Blakely and Sissy Spacek sport fairly convincing Loretta Lynn manes. Altman didn’t seem to like country and western music, and I think it’s fair to say : that he hated Nashville, making it into a grand metaphor of right-wing idiocy, moneyed stupidity, and glittering exploitation of the gullible and greedy. People who don’t like country loved Nashville, probably because it fed several satisfying preconceptions, among them the mindlessness of the \(mostly white workbe, Altman said, sort of stupid to like this music. If, however, you like the other variety of proletarian musical expression black gospel singing Altman let you off the hook. But Altman was symbolizing, and Michael Apted’s Coal Miner’s Daughter is very concrete a film biography of singer-songwriter Loretta Lynn. Here is a sympathetic tale, inspiring in the classic rags-to-riches sense: young girl, one of a coal miner’s eight children, married at 14 to a man almost as ignorant as herself, has four kids before age 20, makes it big singing her very workingclass-female heart out; breaks down, comes back, and continues her career, still holding to a measure of outrageous innocence tempered by a peculiar brand of feminism. Lynn’s songs, with their “you’re looking at country” pride, are among the most pro-female of an often depressingly self-denigrating genre. Hardline country writing produced such dubious masterpieces as Billy Sherrill’s “Stand By Your Man,” rendered with far too much conviction by Tammy Wynette countered with “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ \(With Lovin’ on Your on the Warpath.” She spent most of adolescence pregnant; and there isn’t too much romance in her versions of homeand-family-loving “One’s on the Way” and “Pregnant Again” but then, having six kids isn’t terribly romantic. Sissy Spacek \(one of the two starring the first half of ;the film her skinned, rabbity face with its odd almond eyes is as “pore white” and right out of Quitman, Texas as anything imagined in Tobacco Road. For the first time she comes across not as vacantly menacing \(Badbut as merely unfinished, painfully young. She then transforms herself to look, by movie’s end, not only like a star, but a well-grown woman. She also looks a hell of a lot like Loretta Lynn, which is fairly amazing, and more amazing still sounds like her. She and Loretta, by the way, are great buddies now, according to informed sources at trashy magazines. The rest of the cast meets Spacek’s challenge. Tommy Lee Jones \(Harvard failed-macho husband Doolittle is marvelous, and Beverly D’Angelo as the late Patsy Cline sings with such assurance that the die-hard Cline fan I had with me was uncertain for a moment whether Cline’s voice had been dubbed in. \(It daddy does a very good tired-yet-strict, and in the role of the mother Phyliss Boyens .manages to make big luminous eyes and a wasted face the best arguments for birth control and higher pay that I’ve seen lately.