For many of us, Coal Miner's Daughter was our first glimpse into Kentucky.
If you didn't live here, or more specifically in Eastern Kentucky, those first shots of the woods and the coal camps near Butcher Hollow seemed exotic. You could understand the dual desire to get out but never want to leave, something we saw in Sissy Spacek's performance as Loretta Lynn.
Spacek won the Oscar for best actress for her performance in the film, which is Wednesday's feature in the LexGo Totally Awesome '80s Film Festival. It's the home-state offering in the fest, which leans teen-centric, but most of would agree Lynn is totally awesome.
When the movie begins, Loretta is a teen, quickly getting married to Tommy Lee Jones' Doolittle Lynn, who barrels into an Eastern Kentucky coalfield in his military uniform and a red Jeep. From that moment, it is clear that Doo will not be satisfied becoming the father of another coal miner's daughter and that he will break his promise to Loretta's dad, Ted Webb (played by Levon Helm), not to take her far from home.
Neither the coal mines nor running moonshine has the future Doo wants, but his wife's voice does.
Roger Ebert wrote that Coal Miner's Daughter, which he put at No. 8 on his 1980 Top 10 list, is "one of those films people like so much while they're watching it that they're inclined to think it's better than it is."
True, it is a sort of boilerplate rags-to-fame story that we have seen many times and that was distilled to a science by VH1's Behind the Music series. But director Michael Apted's telling is so human and entertaining. Loretta and Doolittle's radio station tour is hilarious, particularly as we see Spacek take her character from a mousy mountain girl to the confident, sassy woman we came to know as a chart topper.
The movie, based on Lynn's autobiography, isn't always pretty in its portrayal of her life. But it is a story that has become a source of Bluegrass State pride.
IF YOU GO
LexGo Totally Awesome '80s Film Festival
When: 7:15 p.m. Wednesdays through March 27
Where: Kentucky Theatre, 214 E. Main St. Free parking in Transit Center garage; enter on High St. across from post office or Calvary Baptist Church.
Tickets: $6; available in advance at Kentucky Theatre box office and at Kentuckytheater.com.
Learn more: (859) 231-7924
March 6: Coal Miner's Daughter
March 13: Ferris Bueller's Day Off
March 20: Risky Business
March 27: The Breakfast Club
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Talk about Coal Miner's Daughter and the other movies in the LexGo Totally Awesome '80s Film Festival on Twitter with the hashtag #totallyawesome80s